John Jay College’s National Network for Safe Communities Awarded $1,000,000 Federal Grant to Enhance and Sustain Proven Crime Prevention Strategies

September 18, 2012 | John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC), a project of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has been awarded a $1,000,000 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to enhance and sustain two highly successful crime-reduction strategies.

For more than 15 years, scores of diverse jurisdictions throughout the United States have been implementing two effective strategies — the group violence reduction strategy (GVRS), first implemented in Boston in the mid-1990s as “Operation Ceasefire,” and the drug-market intervention (DMI) strategy, pioneered in High Point, North Carolina in 2004. The National Network was created to connect and support the 60 or so jurisdictions that are currently implementing one or both of these strategies, help them learn from one another and address common issues, and provide a supportive community of practice for new jurisdictions.

John Jay College President Jeremy Travis, who serves as the National Network co-chair, noted that the National Network was formed in 2009 on the basis of the then very strong evaluation record and field experience with the core anti-crime strategies. “This one million dollar grant by the Bureau of Justice Assistance recognizes the national importance of these evidence-based crime fighting strategies,” Travis said. “This is another important milestone in the development over almost 20 years of one of the most promising directions in our national struggle to reduce crime in a way that also strengthens communities.”

Earlier this year, a Campbell Collaboration Systematic Review, the gold standard in evaluating social science interventions, found “strong empirical evidence” for the effectiveness of the National Network’s crime reduction strategies after reviewing the strongest formal evaluations of both GVRS and DMI implementations and related focused-deterrence strategies in a range of cities.

“Despite overall reductions in crime, communities across the country continue to experience unacceptable levels of violent crime,” said Bureau of Justice Assistance Director Denise E. O’Donnell.  “BJA hopes, through this grant to the National Network for Safe Communities, to expand the numbers of communities that implement these research based and effective crime fighting strategies and sustain and enhance them over time.”

“There is a growing body of research and field experience documenting that these strategies are associated with substantial reductions in violent and drug crime when implemented with fidelity,” said Professor David Kennedy, Director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control and co-chair of the National Network. “Based on this evidence, the National Network has been rolling out these strategies nationwide so that America can address its crime problems in a fundamentally different and more effective way.”

The roster of National Network member jurisdictions—including leading sites such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Cincinnati, Oakland and Newark—has grown strongly since the Network was launched, and the strategies are applied successfully in large and small cities as well as towns and rural areas. Reflecting growing federal endorsement of the National Network strategies, Baton Rouge and Detroit recently received Department of Justice funding for their implementations, and National Network leaders are working closely with these sites to support the process.

Currently, a pilot project aimed at implementing the group violence reduction strategy in Indian Country is also underway.  This project is the result of the National Network’s partnership with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Justice Services and the San Carlos Apache Tribe and is part of the President’s High Priority Performance Goal Initiative to reduce violent crime in Indian communities around the country.

The National Network also works closely with its members to develop innovative ways of implementing its strategies or expanding their application and has seen striking results in a range of areas, including the use of social network analysis to pinpoint those who are most at risk of shooting or getting shot; amplifying the moral voice of the community in the direct communication with offenders; and applying the focused-deterrence approach to chronic domestic violence offenders.

The three-year BJA grant will help the National Network to further enhance implementation of its strategies, better assist its current member sites in producing sustained results, and meet the sharp increase in demand for the strategies from new jurisdictions.

Specifically, the National Network plans to:

  • Develop an in-depth curriculum for a “Ceasefire University,” an annual multi-day program to be offered at John Jay College to a range of strategy stakeholders.
  • Invest in conferencing technology for distance support to sites and convening regular meetings with site project managers, police chiefs, community leaders and others to track progress, discuss problems and provide a platform for peer-to-peer support.
  • Invest in project management software system that will be standard across  sites, and determine a set of standardized base data to be collected by sites to enhance implementation fidelity and facilitate scholarly research.
  • Build on the the advice of professionals on curriculum development, distance learning and data collection regarding the two anti-crime strategies.
  • Compile a “cookbook” on key strategy elements, consisting of case studies, how-to guides and other material providing a description of the most common problems and a discussion of the solutions applied in National Network sites.
  • Develop a software package for police departments to conduct Social Network Analysis in the context of group violence reduction strategy implementation.
  • Conduct peer-to-peer training visits for National Network sites.
  • Develop and implement the metrics needed to embed its strategies into CompStat, the main data-driven management and accountability system used by state-of-the-art police departments.

For further information on the National Network for Safe Communities, please visit www.nnscommunities.org.

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice: An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit www.jjay.cuny.edu.

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For more information, call:
Doreen Viñas-Pineda 212-237-8645