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Program Profile: Project Safe Neighborhoods (National Evaluation)

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on February 09, 2016

Program Summary

This program is a multiple agency initiative to reduce gun violence in large cities through enhanced enforcement and deterrence. The program is rated Promising. Cities that received the program experienced a significant reduction in violent crime relative to control cities between 2000 and 2006.

Program Description

Program Goals
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a nationwide, federally funded initiative that aims to allocate criminal justice resources toward reducing gun-related violence in urban communities. PSN was developed by combining strategies and tactics from other interventions such as Project Exile (in Richmond, Virginia), the Boston Gun Project, and the Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative. Each site that received funding followed the general PSN model (described below), but individualized the approach to target the specific nature of gun crimes in that city. For example, sites may have involved different partners on the interagency task force or focused their enforcement efforts on different types of offenders.

Program Activities
As part of PSN, an interagency task force is established to collect data and analyze patterns of gun violence in a community. A PSN task force includes local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies; community organizations; and local service providers. They work together to conduct a problem analysis that provides a detailed understanding of gun-related crime and violence in a specific neighborhood. Through data analysis and the coordinated efforts of all agencies, an individualized strategy to address gun violence is developed. The data-driven enforcement strategy aims to detect instances of gun violence and prosecute offenders severely.

Key Personnel
PSN involves a high level of interagency collaboration. Federal, state, and local law enforcement; prosecutors; and probation and parole officers collectively develop an enforcement plan under which gun violence and possession will be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Criminal justice personnel also work closely with local service providers and community organizations to communicate the deterrence message, provide full warning of the enhanced enforcement of gun crimes, and offer social services to offenders.

Program Theory
PSN aims to incapacitate and deter violent offenders. Enhanced prosecution of gun-related crimes leads to longer prison and jail sentences for those offenders, keeping them off the streets and unable to commit additional crimes. Additionally, in communicating the message that the community will not tolerate gun crimes and that the full force of the criminal justice system will be dedicated to catching and harshly punishing these acts, offenders recognize an increased risk associated with committing a gun-related crime. Consistent with theories of deterrence, this increased certainty and severity of punishment should discourage potential offenders from engaging in gun crimes (Kennedy, 1997). 

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Violent Crime Trends
Compared with cities that did not implement Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), McGarrell and colleagues (2010) found that treatment cities experienced a statistically significant decline in violent crime. Between 2000 and 2006, PSN cities experienced an average 4.1 percent decline in violent crime, while non-PSN cities experienced a 0.9 percent decline. 

Furthermore, cities that received a higher dosage of PSN were significantly more likely to experience decreases in violent crime, relative to cities that did not fully implement PSN. Every unit increase in PSN implementation was associated with a 5.7 percent decrease in the city’s violent crime rate.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
In a national evaluation of the impact of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), McGarrell and colleagues (2010) used a quasi-experimental design with longitudinal data to compare trends in violent crime in large cities that implemented PSN and large cities that did not. The authors looked specifically at violent crime trends between 2000 and 2006. The treatment group included 82 U.S. cities of 100,000 or more residents, which received funding to implement PSN during this time period; the control group included 170 non-treatment cities. However, because PSN is a national initiative, the deterrence message that law enforcement and prosecutors would be targeting gun violence was broadcast across all U.S. cities. To distinguish between cities that enacted all or most elements of the PSN approach and those that did not, the authors evaluated each city as receiving a high, medium, or low dosage of PSN. Comparisons were drawn accordingly. The impact of PSN on violent crime was determined using hierarchical linear modeling and growth curve modeling methods.

Violent crime was measured with city-level data from the Uniform Crime Reports. The authors relied on a composite measure of violent crime that included homicides, robberies, and aggravated assaults. To discern the effect of the PSN intervention on violent crime, the authors included a series of control variables, including concentrated disadvantage, population density, annual state incarceration rates, and the number of police per 100,000 residents. The authors acknowledged that at baseline, treatment cities had significantly higher levels of violent crime on average than non-treatment cities.
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Cost

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Since the development of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) in 2001, the federal government has allocated funding toward implementing PSN on a national scale. Estimates of costs for individual cities are not available; however, McGarrell and colleagues (2010) estimated that roughly $1.5 billion had been spent so far on the national implementation. Information about funding opportunities for PSN is available at the Bureau of Justice Assistance Web site: www.psn.gov
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Implementation Information

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Information about training and technical assistance (T/TA) that is available for the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative is available at the Bureau of Justice Assistance Web site: https://www.bja.gov/programdetails.aspx?program_id=74.
 
A list of T/TA providers is also available here: https://www.bja.gov/Programs/PSN/PSN_TTA_manual.pdf.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
McGarrell, Edmund, Nicholas Corsaro, Natalie Kroovand Hipple, and Timothy Bynum. 2010. “Project Safe Neighborhoods and Violent Crime Trends in US Cities: Assessing Violent Crime Impact.” Journal of Quantitative Criminology 26: 165–90.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Kennedy, David M. 1997. “Pulling Levers: Chronic Offenders, High Crime Settings, and a Theory of Prevention.” Valparaiso University Law Review 31(2): 449–84.

Klofas, John, Natalie Kroovand Hipple, and Edmund F. McGarrell. 2010. The New Criminal Justice. New York, NY: Routledge.

McGarrell, Edmund, Natalie Kroovand Hipple, Nicholas Corsaro, Timothy S. Bynum, Heather Perez, Carol A. Zimmermann, and Melissa Garmo. 2009. Project Safe Neighborhoods- A National Program to Reduce Gun Crime. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.
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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Problem-Oriented Policing
These analytic methods are used by police to develop crime prevention and reduction strategies. The practice is rated Promising and led to a significant decline in crime and disorder.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types



Reducing Gun Violence
Reducing gun violence is a persistent public policy concern for communities, policymakers and leaders. To reduce gun violence, several strategies have been deployed including public health approaches (e.g., training and safe gun storage); gun buy-back programs; gun laws; and law enforcement strategies. The practice is rated Promising for reducing violent gun offenses.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Violent offenses
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Program Snapshot

Gender: Both

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): Other Community Setting, High Crime Neighborhoods/Hot Spots

Program Type: Community and Problem Oriented Policing, Community Crime Prevention , Violence Prevention, General deterrence, Specific deterrence

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Campbell Collaboration

Program Director:
C. Edward Banks
Senior Policy Advisor
Bureau of Justice Assistance
810 Seventh Street, NW
Washington DC 20531
Phone: 202.307.3081
Website
Email

Researcher:
Edmund McGarrell
Michigan State University
560 Baker Hall
East Lansing MI 48824
Phone: 517.355.6649
Website
Email

Training and TA Provider:
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Bureau of Justice Assistance
810 Seventh Street, NW
Washington DC 20531
Website
Email