David Kennedy’s ‘Ceasefire’ Strategy: Stop the Gun Violence–or Else


Commonwealth Magazine profiles David Kennedy, a leader in an innovative strategy against urban gun violence. Kennedy, 54, a John Jay College professor, helped develop Ceasefire, a strategy for dealing with gang members that relies on delivering a forceful message that gun violence would no longer be tolerated in the community. Commonwealth says, “The beauty—and effectiveness—of the approach…was its limited focus. It was not an attempt to solve the root causes of urban poverty or to turn gangbangers into choirboys. The goal was to curtail the gun violence that was taking so many young lives and destabilizing urban neighborhoods.”

The story continues: “Under the Ceasefire model, gang members, many of whom were under some form of court supervision through probation or parole, were ordered to attend meetings where they were met by a phalanx of law enforcement muscle. The gatherings often included not only police, but probation officers and state and federal prosecutors. Also present were clergy and youth outreach workers, who were there to say the community was fed-up with gang violence but also ready to extend a hand with jobs or schooling to those who were ready to put down the guns. The message from the law enforcement crowd: Stop the gunplay or we lower the prosecutorial boom on everyone affiliated with your group the next time there is a shooting that any member is involved in.”

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