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Reducing Youth Gang Violence in Urban Areas: One Community's Effort

NCJ Number
Date Published
4 pages
This paper describes the Little Village Gang Violence Reduction Project of the Chicago Police Department and summarizes recent evaluation findings.
The project's goal was to reduce serious gang violence of individual youth gang members, as well as gang violence at the community level. The underlying assumption of the project model is that the gang problem is largely a response to community social disorganization, in which key social institutions (family, schools, police, and businesses) are unable to collaboratively address the problem. The thrust of the model is to have organizations and representatives of the local community join forces to address and control the behavior of young gang members and encourage them to participate in legitimate activities. A variety of agencies and individuals comprised the project, including two tactical officers, a neighborhood relations sergeant, and a clerical officer; three adult probation officers; a community organizer; and four community youth workers. Tactical officers shared information with the rest of the team about gang incidents and referred gang members to community youth workers for jobs and school programs. In turn, youth workers, including some former gang members, provided information to police about youth involved in violent gang incidents. The youth workers also helped gang members meet probation appointments and requirements. Probation officers provided access to information about criminal activities. The community organizer shared what was known about local families and served as a liaison between community residents and the project team. A variety of contacts and services were provided to gang members, including referral to and placement in jobs or job training, remedial education, recreation activities, counseling in homes and on the streets, crisis counseling, and referral to drug treatment and mental health services. In conjunction with social intervention, there was an effort to suppress violence through information gathering, monitoring of gang members, and arrests for criminal activity. Based on analyzed data obtained primarily during the project's first 3 years, the project appears to have been a success. The cohesive team approach was probably at the heart of the project's success in reducing gang crime, particularly gang violence. Considerable weaknesses were found in the implementation of the community mobilization and organizational change and development strategies. Recommendations are offered for the replication and adaptation of the Gang Violence Reduction Project. 2 figures