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Program Profile: Indianapolis (Ind.) Violence Reduction Partnership (IVRP)

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on June 06, 2011

Program Summary

A policing program that targeted high-risk chronic offenders in order to reduce gun violence in Indianapolis, Indiana. The program is rated Promising. When compared to the homicide trends in six other cities, Indianapolis was the only one that experienced a statistically significant decline. Gang-related homicides and homicides involving 15-24 year olds also showed a statistically significant decline.

Program Description

Program Goals/Target Population
The Indianapolis (Ind.) Violence Reduction Partnership (IVRP) was created in response to high levels of gun-related homicides in Indianapolis during the 1990s. It was a replication of the “Project Ceasefire” initiative by the Boston (Mass.) Police Department, which simultaneously held meetings with gang members to communicate a message of deterrence and launched a gang crackdown. Inspired by the success of the Boston initiative, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department created its own version of the program in 1998. The program used a specialized approach to reduce gun-related violence among those most at risk for offending, mainly gang-involved chronic offenders who used illegal firearms.

Program Components/Key Personnel
The program was comprised of three stages: identification, implementation, and outreach.

Identification. During this identification stage, research was conducted to find out details about the homicide problem in Indianapolis, including identification of key offenders and patterns of offending.

Implementation. During this stage, “pulling lever” meetings were held with probationers and parolees. In these meetings, a message of deterrence was communicated, along with the consequences of violating the law. These offenders were encouraged to take advantage of community services, such as mentoring, employment, housing, education, and vocational training. These meetings spread the message that violence will not be tolerated and that there are opportunities for these offenders to turn their lives around. The meetings were accompanied by crackdowns of local gangs to illustrate the message of deterrence and zero tolerance for violence.

Outreach. This stage depended upon the participation of community partners. Meetings were held to come up with ideas to supplement the program, and neighborhood leaders, social service providers, and ex-offender mentors were recruited to participate.

Throughout all stages of the program, collaboration with community partners, criminal justice agencies, and research associates was necessary to tailor a specialized solution to the problem of gun violence in Indianapolis.

Program Theory
The idea behind the Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership was based on the “pulling levers” deterrence strategy. Through this strategy, research on patterns of crime in the community is used to create a tailored intervention to tackle a specific problematic criminal activity. In Indianapolis, the pulling levers approach was used to combat the issue of gun homicide among chronic offenders. Research was used to identify chronic offenders most at risk for committing violence, and these offenders were called in for pulling lever meetings. During these meetings, the message made clear was that if violence was committed, the appropriate sanctions, or “levers,” would be applied, or “pulled.”

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1

Homicide in Indianapolis, Ind.

McGarrell, Chermak, Wilson, and Corsaro (2006) found that monthly homicides were reduced by 34.3 percent in Indianapolis following the April 1999 Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership (IVRP) intervention. When compared to the homicide trends in six other cities, Indianapolis was the only one that experienced a statistically significant decline.


Homicide in 6 Other Cities

With the exception of Cincinnati, Ohio, all of the comparison cities experienced slight decreases in monthly homicide rates. None of these declines were statistically significant, however. Cincinnati’s postintervention mean actually rose after the intervention.


Study 2
Gang-Related Homicides
Corsaro and McGarrell (2009) found that gang-related homicides declined by 38.1 percent following the IVRP intervention; this decline was proved to be statistically significant.

Non-Gang-Related Homicides
Non-gang-related homicides declined by 8.6 percent following the IVRP intervention, but this decline was not statistically significant. The reduction in homicides was more evident in gang-related homicides than non-gang-related homicides in magnitude and significance, adding further support that IVRP led to a reduction in gang violence in Indianapolis. 

Study 3

Homicides Involving 15- to 24-Year-Olds

Corsaro and McGarrell (2010) determined that this age group was at the highest risk for committing violence and was also most likely to experience a statistically significant and substantive reduction in homicides rates after the intervention. Following the intervention, homicide incidents involving 15- to 24-year-olds were found to be 48 percent of the preintervention rate; they declined from 28.8 homicides per 10,000 at-risk population to 12.8 homicides per 10,000 at-risk population.


The highest-risk populations were African American and white males aged 15 to 24, and these rates declined at a greater rate than homicides involving all other populations between pre- and postintervention periods. After the intervention, African American male homicides were 41 percent of the preintervention rate, declining from 145.2 to 54.1, while white male homicides were 81 percent of the preintervention rate, declining from 17.9 to 4.5. African American female homicides and white female homicides also declined substantially, but these results were not found to be statistically significant.


Target Area Homicides

Postintervention target area homicides were 67 percent of their preintervention rate. Homicide rates among 15- to 24-year-olds in these areas declined from 150.9 to 33.5 per 10,000 people. In comparison, other high-risk neighborhoods in the city had significantly higher rates of homicides involving 15- to 24-year-olds.


Homicides Among Remaining Indianapolis Population

Homicides involving the remaining Indianapolis population experienced a statistically significant reduction. After the intervention, the homicide rate for the remaining population was 95 percent of the preintervention rate, declining from 2.0 homicides per 10,000 people to 1.7 homicides per 10,000 people.

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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1

McGarrell, Chermak, Wilson, and Corsaro (2006) analyzed the impact of the Indianapolis (Ind.) Violence Reduction Partnership (IVRP) using an interrupted time series quasi-experiment to examine homicide trends in Indianapolis. They used six Midwestern cities as comparison groups: Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky., and Pittsburgh, Pa. Information for these cities was obtained using the Supplementary Victim-Level Homicide Database. These cities were chosen based on their similarities to Indianapolis in homicide and population rates, as well as their proximity to Indianapolis.


Homicide data was studied from Jan. 1, 1997, to June 30, 2001, with the intervention period occurring in April 1999. The postintervention period was May 1999 to June 2001. McGarrell and colleagues used time-series analyses to compare monthly homicide trends during these periods for Indianapolis and the six comparison cities. Preintervention monthly homicide means were compared to postintervention means to determine the effect of the IVRP intervention on homicide trends.


Study 2

Corsaro and McGarrell (2009) disaggregated monthly homicides into gang- and non–gang-related homicides. Since the intervention was targeted at gang-affiliated chronic offenders, the researchers believed that the impact of IVRP should be stronger for gang-related violence. Otherwise, the decline in homicide rates could be attributed to external forces.


The data for this study was obtained from information on offenders from the pulling-lever meetings. During the meetings, researchers took detailed notes about homicide incidents and which suspects were involved in gangs. These incident review findings revealed patterns of violence in Indianapolis not available from official data sources, and they showed a high degree of gang-related offenses.


Corsaro and McGarrell used an interrupted time-series analysis to differentiate the impact of the IVRP intervention on gang versus non-gang-related homicides. Monthly events of homicides were coded as gang-related or non-gang-related, based on information from researchers and police files. If at least one victim or suspect was shown to be affiliated with a gang, the homicide was coded as gang-related. They compared percentage changes across homicide types between pre- and postintervention periods to analyze the differential effects of the intervention. Monthly homicide trends were assessed between January 1997 and June 2001, with April 1999 as the intervention date. 


Study 3

Corsaro and McGarrell (2010) used a time-series analysis to examine changes in homicide rates between different neighborhoods in Indianapolis, as well as different age, race, and gender groups. The purpose was to isolate the effects of IVRP on certain high-risk groups and to control for certain factors that could have influenced its effect. 


Three urban neighborhoods designated as police beats were used to analyze homicide rates in high-risk areas relative to other neighborhoods in Indianapolis. These areas were adjacent to the locations of the pulling-levers meetings, and were chosen as target areas based on several risk factors, including male divorce rate; residential stability; and concentrated disadvantage (which took into account unemployment, poverty, and female-headed households).


City-level neighborhood data was used to examine changes in homicide patterns. Population and demographic information was obtained from the 2000 U.S. Census. All homicides that occurred between January 1997 and December 2000 were included. 1997 and 1998 were treated as the preintervention period, with 1999 and 2000 as the postintervention period. Annual homicide events were studied for each year, and risk-specific homicide patterns were examined before and after the IVRP intervention for each group. Age, gender, and race were studied for each homicide incident, where each incident represented a unique homicide victim. African American male homicides were the total number of annual events that involved African American males aged 15 to 24 as either the victim or suspect in a homicide incident, and this criteria applied to all groups in the 15- to 24-year-old age range. The comparison group was all other homicides, which included all homicides that did not involve 15- to 24-year-olds.

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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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, Steven Chermak, Jeremy Wilson, and Nicholas Corsaro. 2006. “Reducing Homicide Through a ‘Lever-Pulling’ Strategy.” Justice Quarterly 23(2):214–31.

Study 2
Corsaro, Nicholas and Edmund McGarrell. 2009. “Testing a Promising Homicide Reduction Strategy: Reassessing the Impact of the Indianapolis ‘Pulling Levers’ Intervention.” Journal of Experimental Criminology 5(1):63–82.

Study 3
Corsaro, Nicholas and Edmund McGarrell. 2010. “Reducing Homicide Risk in Indianapolis Between 1997 and 2000.” Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 87(5):851–64.
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Additional References

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

Chermak, Steven, and Edmund McGarrell. 2004. “Problem-Solving Approaches to Homicide: An Evaluation of the Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership.” Criminal Justice Policy Review 15(2):161–92.

McGarrell, Edmund, and Steven Chermak. 2003. Strategic Approaches to Reducing Firearms Violence: Final Report on the Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.
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Related Practices

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Following are practices that are related to this program:

Focused Deterrence Strategies
Problem-oriented policing strategies that follow the core principles of deterrence theory. The practice is rated Promising. The evaluation found that focused deterrence strategies (also referred to as “pulling levers" policing) can reduce crime.

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

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Urban

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

Program Type: Community and Problem Oriented Policing, Gang Prevention/Intervention, Violence Prevention, Specific deterrence

Targeted Population: Serious/Violent Offender, Gang Members, High Risk Offenders

Current Program Status: Not Active

Listed by Other Directories: Campbell Collaboration

Edmund McGarrell
Michigan State University, School of Criminal Justice
560 Baker Hall
East Lansing MI 48824-1118
Phone: 517.355.2192

Nicholas Corsaro
Assistant Professor
University of Cincinnati, School of Criminal Justice
P.O. Box 210389
Cincinnati OH 45221
Phone: 618.453.6375