This report describes the issues and processes involved in implementing the Boston Gun Project's Operation Ceasefire, which focused on countering homicide victimization among youths in Boston; and the report discusses the design and findings of the evaluation that assessed the impact of this intervention.
The Boston Gun Project Working Group began meeting in January 1995, and by the fall of that year, the project's basic problem assessment had been completed and the elements of what is now known as the Operation Ceasefire intervention mapped out; implementation began in early 1996. The two main elements of Ceasefire were a direct law enforcement attack on illicit firearms traffickers who supplied youths with guns, as well as an attempt to generate a strong deterrent to gang violence. The effort to counter illicit firearms trafficking expanded the focus of local, State, and Federal authorities to include intrastate firearms trafficking in Massachusetts in addition to interstate trafficking. Attention was given to traffickers of the makes and calibers of guns most often used by gang members. Further, the effort focused on traffickers of guns that had short time-to-crime intervals and were thus most likely to have been trafficked. The project attempted to restore obliterated serial numbers of confiscated guns to aid investigations of trafficking. Enforcement priorities were enhanced through an analysis of data generated by the Boston Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms' comprehensive tracing of crime guns and by developing leads from the systematic debriefing of gang-affiliated arrestees or those involved in violent crime. The effort to deter violent gang behavior involved the targeting of gangs engaged in violent behavior; reaching out directly to members of the targeted gangs; delivering an explicit message that violence would not be tolerated; and by using every legal means to apply sanctions for violent behavior. The evaluation analysis of impacts within Boston associated with the Ceasefire intervention followed a basic one-group time-series design. In addition, a nonrandomized quasi-experiment was used to compare youth homicide trends in Boston with those in other large cities in the United States. The time series showed a 63-percent reduction in the mean monthly number of youth homicide victims from a pretest mean of 3.5 youth homicides per month to a posttest mean of 1.3 youth homicides per month. Analyses suggest that the Ceasefire intervention was associated with statistically significant reductions in all time series. 28 notes and 7 exhibits
Date Published: September 1, 2001