Deterrence programs that focus law enforcement resources on known gangs are a promising violence prevention measure in urban areas with a history of lethal violence, according to a study published in the American Society of Criminology Journal Criminology & Public Policy. In “Assessing the Impact of Focused Deterrence on Serious Violence in New Orleans,” researchers evaluated whether a focused deterrence program could reduce violence in a “chronic and high-trajectory homicide setting” such as New Orleans, and found the outcome to be promising.
After implementing an approach specifically designed to stop gang violence in 2012, authorities in New Orleans saw “a statistically significant reduction above and beyond changes observed in comparable lethally violent cities,” write researchers Nicholas Corsaro and Robin S. Engel, of the University of Cincinnati. Among key outcomes, they found a 17 percent reduction in overall homicides, a 32 percent reduction in gang homicides, and a 26 percent reduction in homicides involving young Black male victims.
As part of the Group Violence Reduction Strategy approach, members of the City of New Orleans and New Orleans Police Department identified gang members and contacted them to let them know that authorities are paying attention to their activities, according to the study.
“Our findings illustrate that it might be possible to alter the mindset of gang and criminally active group members in settings where retaliatory violence has been a common occurrence,” the authors write.