Originally cited at http://www.usdoj.gov/ag/success.htm
- During the late 1980s, Boston was a city caught in a crossfire of gang violence and
murder. In 1990, the city recorded the highest number of killings in its history.
- To reverse the trends, Boston initiated a comprehensive community-based
strategy to reach at-risk youth before they take their first step into crime
and to deal with those already in trouble. The city created the Youth Violence
Strike Force ("Strike Force"), a coordinated multi-agency task force of
45 full-time Police Officers and 15 officers from outside agencies. Membership
in the Strike Force includes the ATF, the Massachusetts State Police and
juvenile corrections officers. The Strike Force is one of the primary enforcement
strategies employed by Boston to combat youth violence and break up criminal
- Operation Night Light sends police and probation officers on nightly home visits to
ensure youth compliance with probation. This ground breaking partnership has fostered better
interactions between police and probation officers, parents, and youths.
- Operation Cease Fire represents Boston's zero-tolerance policy for crime and gang
activity. Boston police meet with gang members to make clear that there will be zero tolerance
for their violence-- and graffiti, truancy, and noise statutes are vigorously enforced to halt gang
- Boston worked closely with the ATF, U.S. Attorney's Office, DEA, FBI and the Suffolk
District Attorney's Office to develop the Boston Gun Project. The Project has cracked down on
the illegal gun market who sell to youths through tracing gun serial numbers and severely
punishing those who provide gangs and youths access to guns.
- Prevention efforts are also part of the Boston model. The Summer of Opportunity
partnership with businesses engages at-risk youth in activities geared to benefit their academic
and professional aspirations, and places some of the youth in part-time jobs. The Department of
Health and Human Services funds community schools so children can have safe havens from the
dangers of the streets.
- Boston's three-pronged strategy of prevention, intervention, and enforcement for youth
violence is paying off. Youth homicides have dropped some 80% citywide from 1990 to 1995,
and in 1996 not a single youth died in a firearm homicide in the city. Violent crime in public
schools decreased more than 20% in the 1995-1996 school year and over 150 drug dens have
been closed through joint Federal-state-local cooperation.
- Like many communities across the country, Jacksonville experienced unprecedented
increases in juvenile crime. From 1991 to 1996, more than 80 juveniles died as a result of
firearms-related incidents. In 1992 alone, 454 youths were arrested for aggravated assaults.
- Florida State Attorney Harry Shorstein used a combination of early
intervention for at-risk youth and tough punishment for juvenile criminals
to revamp the existing juvenile justice system.
- The State Attorney's Office became actively involved with numerous intervention
programs, including School Liaison Programs, the School Conflict Resolution Program, and
- Creating a safe and positive school environment was made a top priority.
School Resource Officers were stationed throughout the schools to create positive bonds with
students and increase campus safety. The Truancy Arbitration Program held hearings with
parents, teachers, and the State Attorney's office to curb student truancy. A program for at-risk
students with serious discipline problems was instituted where the students attend weekly
delinquency hearings in juvenile courts.
- The restructured juvenile justice system in Duval County,
Florida includes a strong diversionary program called the Youth Offender
Program. The program takes appropriate non-violent youth offenders out
of the congested court system and puts them into diversionary programs.
It is estimated that about 70% of the diverted youths do not re-offend.
- The Jacksonville program also prosecutes habitual juvenile offenders as adults. This
serves the dual purpose of protecting the public and providing a strong incentive for at-risk youth
to abide by the law.
- From 1993 to 1996, murder committed by juveniles dropped 72%, the number of
vehicle thefts decreased by nearly 60%, and rape and sex offenses were cut in half.
- An evaluation of Jacksonville's juvenile justice system estimated that over 7,200
robberies, burglaries, and motor vehicle thefts were prevented by incarcerating habitual juvenile
offenders as adults during 1992-1995.
- From 1984 to 1994, homicides jumped 200% in Salinas. Other crimes such as assault
and robbery also increased over the same period. Salinas residents identified gang violence and
fear of gangs as the number one problem facing the community. The Salinas Police Department
identified between 20 and 25 local gangs, with approximately 1,500 gang members.
- In September 1995, the Clinton Administration awarded the Salinas Police Department
nearly $1 million as part of the COPS Youth Firearms Violence Initiative. Salinas used the
funding to expand their anti-gang task force into a full-time effort. A Police/Community
Advisory Commission was formed to involve the community in crime reduction strategies.
- The Salinas Police Department created a Violence Suppression Unit (VSU) to take
firearms away from youth and gang members. Working closely with the District Attorney's
Office, the Unit's 17 officers used the Geographic Information system database to enhance
tracking of criminal activity in their area.
- Salinas established a Violent Injury Prevention Program to reduce and prevent violent
acts by youth.
- The city also introduced "Peace Builders," a violence intervention program encouraging
non-violent behavior amongst elementary school-aged children. Additionally, 20 neighborhood
block clean-up programs were formed to clear garbage from the streets.
- Salinas experienced a dramatic drop in crime after passage of the 1994 Clinton Crime
Bill. Community policing efforts led to 165 juvenile arrests and 392 adult arrests by the VSU
officers between October 1995 and May 1996. Homicides fell by 62%, gang related assaults
decreased by 23%, and drive-by shootings dropped by 31%. Residents are more active in crime
prevention and community officers serve as mentors for Salinas youth.