An evaluation of Chicago’s CeaseFire program found “violence was down by one measure or another in most of the areas that were examined in detail.” Started in 1999, CeaseFire expanded to 25 sites in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois. An evaluation team led by Northwestern University’s Wesley Skogan said CeaseFire “focused on changing the behavior of a small number of carefully selected members of the community, those with a high chance of either ‘being shot or being a shooter’ in the immediate future. Violence interrupters worked on the street, mediating conflicts between gangs and intervening to stem the cycle of retaliatory violence that threatens to break out following a shooting. Outreach workers counseled young clients and connected them to a range of services.”
A report filed with the National Institute of Justice said crime mapping found decreases in the size and intensity of shooting hot spots due to CeaseFire in more than half of the sites. The report cited “significant shifts in gang homicide patterns in most of these areas due to the program, including declines in gang involvement in homicide and retaliatory killings.” Skogan’s team noed that some of CeaseFire’s core concepts and strategies were adapted from the public health field, which has shown success in addressing issues such as smoking, seat belt use, condom use, and immunization. CeaseFire will be discussed next week by Gary Slutkin, founder of the program and director of the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention, at the National Institute of Justice’s annual conference on research and technology, which is being held in Crystal City, Va., near Washington, D.C.