Arnold Ventures asked the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to review and summarize the research evidence for policies and programs that reduce community violence without relying on police.
Surveys of New York City public housing residents suggest that changes in some public safety outcomes might be mediated by gains in community well-being, social cohesion, engagement with government, and citizen trust in the competence of government agencies and actors. As communities become more tightly connected and more supported, they may experience gains in public safety.
Sheyla Delgado, deputy director for analytics at John Jay College and a researcher for the Cure Violence evaluation, says the comparisons offer promising evidence in favor of the program’s public health approach to violence reduction. She says what seems to make Cure Violence different from comparable programs that work to reduce violence is that it humanizes all of its participants.
As part of an evaluation of the New York City Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety (MAP), researchers from John Jay College of Criminal Justice collaborated with survey specialists from NORC at the University Chicago to collect data from two probability samples of residents in public housing developments in New York City. One sample of residents came from communities involved in the MAP initiative. A second sample was from statistically matched housing developments not involved in MAP.
Take the Cure Violence program, a core part of CMS. It has proven to be effective in combating gun violence by treating shootings as a public-health issue that can be contained, just like the outbreak of a disease. According to a study from John Jay College, after Cure Violence was implemented in East New York in 2010, the neighborhood saw a 50% drop in gun injuries.
Was the presence of the MAP initiative in some NYCHA developments associated with greater improvements in crime and victimization outcomes compared with the same outcomes in NYCHA developments not involved in MAP? The results presented here do not answer the question in full, but they offer an early look at efforts by the research team to generate more precise answers. Additional analyses are needed to rule out competing explanations and to examine the complex series of relationships among all the study’s variables. Based on the preliminary findings in this report, however, the results of MAP to date may be considered promising.