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Experts Agree on 10 Ways to Reduce Community Gun Violence

As cities try to combat deadly gun violence, 16 leaders from law enforcement, public health, academia, and community programs released an evidence-backed action plan to guide the battle.

The Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ) Violent Crime Working Group listed 10 short-term actions leaders can take to reduce community gun violence without the need for large expenditures or new legislation. The panel said success requires blending law enforcement with community-led strategies, and called on leaders to end “polarizing political debates” and demonstrate “courage and commitment."

“Violent crime is a deadly serious challenge, but if we set aside our political differences, roll up our sleeves, and put effective, proven strategies in place, we can save lives,” said CCJ's Thomas Abt, a gun violence expert who chairs the group.

Abt adds, “Too much time has been lost to unproductive, hyperpartisan arguments. The science tells us what works, and this plan highlights the strategies that will make the biggest impact now.”

The plan, Saving Lives: Ten Essential Actions Cities Can Take to Reduce Violence Now, describes actions that the panel agrees are most likely to make the greatest immediate impact on violence.

Among the recommendations:

--Set clear goals for violence reduction. Annual 10 percent reductions in homicides and non-fatal shootings are realistic goals.

--Identify key people and places driving violence. Cities should conduct a rigorous problem analysis based on shooting data, law enforcement intelligence, and social network mapping. Trained street outreach workers should verify findings.

--Engage key people through a strategy that conveys a message of empathy and accountabiility. Support and services should be offered to individuals at high risk of violence. It must be made clear that further violence will be met with swift and certain consequences.

--Every city with high rates of violent crime should create a permanent unit in the mayor's office dedicated to violence reduction. These units must be well staffed and funded to succeed long-term.

In a briefing on their report, panel members agreed that, as criminologist Alex Piquero of the University of Miami said, "the goal is not to arrest our way out of this problem."

The Council on Criminal Justice documented a 30 percent rise in murder nationwide in 2020, and police data from large cities show another seven percent increase in 2021.

Support for the initiative comes from The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Charles Koch Institute, The Pew Charitable Trusts and Microsoft, as well as CCJ’s general contributors.

The Working Group members are Ciera Bates-Chamberlin of LIVE FREE ILLINOIS, Eduardo Bocanegra of READI Chicago, Paul Carrillo of Giffords Law Center, Hernán Carvente-Martinez of Healing Ninjas Inc., Vaughn Crandall of California Partnership for Safe Communities, Linda Harllee-Harper of the Washington, D.C., Office of the City Administrator, St. Louis public safety director Daniel Isom, Judge London Kite of Jacksonville, Fl., Ajima Olaghere, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice, Temple University, criminologist Emily Owens of the University of California, Irvine, criminologist Alex Piquero of the University of Miami, Vallejo, Ca., Police Capt. Jason Potts,, Chico Tillmon of the University of Chicago Crime and Education Labs, Deputy Los Angeles Police Chief Emada Tingirides, and Prof. Daniel Webster of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


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