Reducing Gang Violence in Houston

Chicago is undergoing a rash of gang violence. Democrat Mayor Rahm Emanuel, choose Garry McCarthy (formerly Chief of the Newark Police Department, formerly with the NYPD) to be his new Chief of Police. McCarthy in turn has turned to David Kennedy to help stymie gang violence in Chicago.

Kennedy is a self-taught, public safety academic and criminal street gang expert whose data, evidence, and crime reduction tactics reduced the homicide rate in Boston and scores of other American cities. He has nearly three decades of boots-on-the-ground experience working with criminal street gang members in their own neighborhoods and recently published “Don’t Shoot.”

On Wednesday, July 11, 2012, Kennedy spoke to a small group of Houstonians dedicated, in practice and profession, to smart and effective public safety policy about the data-based truisms discovered in his first national effort, Operation Ceasefire.

During the blood-soaked 90’s, the American homicide rate was still soaring, fueled by gang crime and ‘group-based’ violence. Operation Ceasefire was a Harvard-based/policing/publicity program created by Kennedy that became the baseline for community-based gang violence prevention programming. It has since been adopted to some degree in 70 American cities, the latest being Chicago. The initial data and findings published by Kennedy while at Harvard have held true to date and are replicable, where the public will exist to modify tried and failed anti-gang policing tactics.

The program premise is simple:

  1. When it comes to violent crimes, especially homicides, a very small number of gang/’group’ members are responsible for a large and disproportionate number of killings;
  2. Gang-related homicides are not random; they are motivated by personal disputes and the rivalry inherent in gang culture making them predictable;
  3. Crimes that are predictable can be prevented;
  4. Intentional dissemination of the anti-gang plan to gang members results in ‘self’ deterrence;
  5. Communities needed to and would support gang members who sought return to lawful society through education, employment, etc.

Enter Mr. Kennedy’s think tank, the Center for Crime Prevention and Control, which provides basic analytical and tactical services and support required to affect an anti-gang plan. The cost of Kennedy’s groups services to implement a policy package here in Houston, Texas: approximately $150 – $250k. The value: Priceless. It’s time Houston, with one of the highest homicide rates in the nation, 50% gang-related, sat up and took notice of the enormous cost in lives and in tax revenue caused by ignoring gang crime. Isn’t it time our community adopted the nation’s proven best practices for crime fighting at the lowest cost possible?

This article originally appeared on Houston Strategies as a response to this Wall Street Journal article.