This report presents the evaluation methodology and findings for the U.S. Justice Department's Strategic Approach to Community Safety Initiative (SACSI), which was launched in 1998 in 10 sites to determine whether Boston's successful strategy in countering juvenile homicide and firearms violence could be effective in other cities.
The study found that when implemented as planned, the SACSI strategy reduced targeted violent crime in a community by as much as 50 percent. The keys to success were leadership by U.S. Attorney's Offices, the integration of research into practice, collaborative strategic planning by broad-based core groups, and a range of intervention strategies implemented by working groups. The intervention strategies ranged from enforcement/suppression to prevention. Like Boston under its Operation Ceasefire, 9 of the 10 SACSI sites targeted homicide and other serious violent crimes, with attention to those that involved firearms. One site (Memphis, TN) was the exception, where the SACSI partnership focused on reducing rape and other types of sexual assaults. All of the SACSI programs have continued under a broader program entitled Project Safe Neighborhoods. The national assessment team used Uniform Crime Reports data to examine whether SACSI contributed to downward trends in violent crime or whether the crime patterns were occurring regionally or nationally in non-SACSI cities. The evaluation also compared the crime rates of each SACSI site to matched comparison cities chosen geographically and by size. No control areas were used, and the comparison areas were imperfect matches, so it was not possible to definitely determine that SACSI alone was responsible for the reductions in crime. Still, although cities of similar size across the United States experienced decreases in violent crime in the late 1990s, the decreases were significantly greater in the SACSI cities. 9 tables, 16 figures, and 16 references
Date Published: October 1, 2005