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Study: Baltimore Antiviolence Strategy Drove Down Shootings

Baltimore’s flagship anti-gun violence strategy likely drove down shootings in the city's historically violent Western District by one-quarter over 18 months — a substantial reduction achieved without a corresponding increase in total arrests. That’s the preliminary finding of new research by a team of academics that has been evaluating the effectiveness of Baltimore’s so-called “group violence reduction strategy,” which Mayor Brandon Scott launched in the Western District at the start of 2022, reports the Baltimore Banner.

An alternative approach to policing, the group violence strategy identifies those at highest risk of gun violence and offers them social services, reserving more traditional punitive enforcement for those who refuse help and continue criminal behavior. The researchers determined it was “highly likely” that the group violence reduction strategy was responsible for a close to 25% reduction in shootings in the Western District — or 60 fewer people shot — over a year and a half. They found that overall arrests in the Western District did not increase over the 18-month period, in line with policing trends citywide and in similarly violent sections of the city. In addition to declining gun violence, the University of Pennsylvania team found the group violence strategy drove down carjackings by about one-third. Other types of crime, such as robberies and assaults, which are less likely to be associated with group activity, appeared unaffected, the researchers found. Whether the success of the strategy can be sustained over a longer period or scaled citywide — as Scott aims to do — remains an open question.


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