Anti-Violence Strategies Boost Confidence in Cops: Study

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New York police officers. Photo by David Merrett via Flickr

Gun violence declined significantly in two New York City neighborhoods where community-based “interruptors” are deployed, and the confidence of at-risk young men in police also increased, according to a study released Monday.

The study, “Denormalizing Violence,” looked at data from two troubled neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn where the city had been implementing a strategy called “Cure Violence,” aimed at identifying and engaging persons believed most likely to be involved in gun violence.

Comparing results with similar troubled neighborhoods where the program had not been introduced, researchers found that gun injuries fell 50 per cent in one area (East New York) from 44 to 22, between 2014 and 2016; and dropped from 35 to 13 in the second neighborhood in the South Bronx over the same period.

In both neighborhoods, researchers also found that confidence in police increased by 22% over the same period, measured by responses to questions on whether individuals could “count on police” to help when violence broke out, and whether they would call police if they saw someone beaten or shot.

In neighborhoods where the city anti-violence programs had not been introduced, confidence went up 10% in response to the first question, and 14% in response to the second.

The study, produced by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation Center in New York, cautioned that the results did not prove a direct link between confidence in police and drops in violence, but it “underscores the strong association between the two, and points to police legitimacy as another important benefit of successful efforts to reduce community violence.”

The Cure Violence programs have been introduced in 17 New York City neighborhoods, as part of a $12.7 million program approved by Mayor Bill de Blasio and New City Council to expand gun violence prevention strategies. Other elements of the program include job programs, counseling, and legal assistance.

Described as a “place-based, public-health oriented approach to violence reduction,” the program uses outreach workers and “violence interrupters” to intervene directly with individuals considered most likely to become involved in violent disputes.

Between 180-200 respondents were surveyed in each of the neighborhoods.

The results of the study underline the fact that public safety is a “shared responsibility” between police and community residents, said Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, in a press release accompanying the studies.

“The success of the Cure Violence program shows that we can work together to co-produce public safety in New York City neighborhoods, and continue to build trust between law enforcement and the people they serve.”

The study was conducted by Sheyla A. Delgado, Laila Alsabahi, Kevin Wolff, Nicole Alexander, Patricia Cobar, and Jeffrey A. Butts.

Please click here for the study results and the research brief.

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