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Program Profile: Police-Led Community Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence (St. Louis, Missouri)

Evidence Rating: No Effects - One study No Effects - One study

Date: This profile was posted on June 03, 2019

Program Summary

This police-led program was designed to reduce gun crime and serious violence in the Wells Goodfellow neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri. The program is rated No Effects. The intervention did not have a statistically significant effect on gun violence or total violence trends in the target neighborhood compared with the average trends of seven matched comparison neighborhoods across the city.

Program Description

Program Goals/Target Sites
This police-led initiative was an intervention designed to reduce gun crime and serious violence in St. Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) collaborated with numerous justice, government, and community organizations to develop the intervention for the Wells Goodfellow (WGF) neighborhood. The program strategy was based on a preintervention assessment of violence patterns in WGF as well as the problems cited by WGF residents and stakeholders (Koper et al. 2010).

The City of St. Louis has a population of about 318,000. Slightly more than 25 percent of city residents live below the poverty line. In 2007, the city experienced 7,654 Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) Part I violent crimes, a rate about two-and-a-half times that of other U.S. cities of similar size. In 2004 and 2006, between 82 and 89 percent of the city’s homicides were committed with a firearm. Approximately 8,000 people reside in the WGF neighborhood, 98 percent of whom are African American. The neighborhood is characterized by high levels of family disruption and vacant housing units, as well as a high violent crime rate (Koper, Woods, and Isom 2016).

Program Components
The program included enhanced enforcement, prosecution, and offender supervision in WGF. Many of these key components were not entirely new or unique to WGF; however, they were intensified during the project period.

Patrol officers, detectives, and officers from multiple SLMPD specialty units coordinated proactive enforcement activities, such as directed patrols, surveillance, warrant application and execution, drug enforcement and investigation, intensified responses to shootings, and in-depth follow-up investigations. Activities were focused on hot spot crime locations, known offenders in the neighborhood, and the deterrence of nonresidents who sold or bought drugs in the WGF neighborhood.

Federal authorities assisted SLMPD with the activities, including a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) team that conducted drug operations in WGF. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) provided funding to supplement police overtime. ATF also conducted joint patrols with SLMPD during parts of the project and traced recovered firearms. Overall, these activities were designed to deter illegal gun carrying and use, target known offenders, suppress drug activity believed to be associated with much of the violence in the WGF neighborhood, and better respond to incidents of serious violence.

In addition, the City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office increased its focus on the prosecution of offenses in WFG, particularly for cases involving violence, guns, or drugs. Prosecutors worked with SLMPD to strengthen cases and requested judicial orders to restrict outside drug offenders from entering the neighborhood. The United States Attorney’s Office also committed to prosecuting eligible gun cases from WGF.

Finally, SLMPD also coordinated with probation and parole officers to improve supervision for high-risk probationers in WGF. This involved strengthening a joint police-probation intensive supervision program for high-risk probationers in WGF (including first-time gun offenders).

The program also included efforts to improve police–community relations, and to mobilize and stimulate the community through community meetings, job fairs, and other special events. For example, an interagency team had been addressing issues related to nuisance and vacant properties in WGF, and this effort intensified during the intervention.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Total Violence
Koper and colleagues (2016) did not find statistically significant differences in total violence between the Wells GoodFellow (WGF) neighborhood and the seven matched comparison neighborhoods.

Gun Violence
There were no statistically significant differences in gun violence between the WGF neighborhood and the seven matched comparison neighborhoods.

Total Violence Ratio
There were no statistically significant differences in the total violence ratio between the WGF neighborhood and the seven matched comparison neighborhoods.

Gun Violence Ratio
There were no statistically significant differences in the gun violence ratio between the WGF neighborhood and the seven matched comparison neighborhoods.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
To study the impact of a police-led initiative in St. Louis, Missouri, Koper, Woods, and Isom (2016) used a quasi-experimental multiple time series design to compare trends in total violence and gun violence in the Wells GoodFellow (WGF) neighborhood with the average trends in seven matched comparison neighborhoods. Approximately 8,000 people reside in the WGF neighborhood, 98 percent of whom are African American. The neighborhood is characterized by high levels of family disruption and vacancy, as well as a high violent crime rate. In 2007, WGF experienced 357 violent crimes, including 14 homicides, 82 robberies (60 of which were armed robberies), and 250 aggravated assaults (117 of which were committed with guns). WGF also had high levels of drug offending, with 272 drug offenses reported during 2007.

WFG gun violence and total violence trends were compared with the average trends in several matched comparison neighborhoods. Comparison neighborhoods were matched based on numerous social characteristics, such as population, race, age, youth by age and race, number of households, number of female-headed households, vacant housing units, and percentage of rentals. Neighborhoods adjacent to WGF were not selected in order to reduce the possibility that those areas would be affected by crime displacement or diffusion of crime reduction benefits from the WGF intervention. Although the comparison neighborhoods typically had lower counts and rates of violence than did WGF, there were no significant baseline differences between groups.

Outcome measures included counts of UCR Part I violent crimes (murder, rape, robbery aggravated assault) committed with or without firearms during the 2005 to 2008 study period. Preintervention included data from 2005 until the intervention began in April 2008. The intervention took place from April to December 2008, after which postintervention data was collected for 38 weeks. The data were obtained from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and aggregated into weekly time series for the target and comparison areas. The researchers examined changes in weekly counts of violence in WGF during the intervention period and assessed trends in WGF relative to those in the comparison areas. Seasonally adjusted t tests were conducted to identify changes in weekly counts of total violence and gun violence during the intervention. Time-series methods were used to test for differences in pre- and post-intervention trends. In addition to examining trends in total violence and gun violence, the researchers also examined trends in the ratio of crimes in the target area and the pooled comparison area. The study did not conduct subgroup analyses.
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Implementation Information

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The program was developed through collaborative community efforts. A research partner working with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) analyzed geographic and demographic patterns in homicides, gun violence, and drug offenses in the Wells GoodFellow neighborhood. The study detailed reviews of homicides and a sample of other gun crimes that took place in the neighborhood during 2007 (Koper et al. 2010). In April 2008, the findings were presented at a community summit that brought together community members, community leaders, and representatives from SLMPD, the Mayor’s Office, and several other government and nongovernment agencies. The program strategy was based on the study findings as well as the problems cited by individuals who attended the summit.
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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
Koper, Christopher S, Daniel J. Woods, and Daniel Isom. 2016 “Evaluating a Police-Led Community Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence in St. Louis.” Police Quarterly 19:115–149.
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Additional References

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

Koper, Christopher. S., D. Hoffmaster, A. Luna, S. McFadden, and Daniel Woods. 2010. “Developing a St. Louis Model for Reducing Gun Violence: A Report from the Police Executive Research Forum to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.” Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum.
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Related Practices

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

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

Race/Ethnicity: Black, White

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): High Crime Neighborhoods/Hot Spots

Program Type: Community and Problem Oriented Policing, Community Awareness/Mobilization, Gang Prevention/Intervention, Violence Prevention, Hot Spots Policing

Targeted Population: Serious/Violent Offender, Gang Members

Current Program Status: Not Active