HANDBOOK ON CRIME PREvENTION GUIDELINES: MAKING THEM wORK
Box 9 . Paving the way for the safe neighbourhoods project: the Strategic
Approaches to Community Safety Initiative in 10 United States cities*
In the early 1990s, the Boston Police Department partnered with Harvard University
researchers to analyse the problems of juvenile homicide and gun crimes and to work
together to implement appropriate intervention strategies. This collaboration, called Opera-
tion Ceasefire, was considered successful--the youth homicide rate dropped from an
average of 40 deaths annually to between 10 and 15.
To see if Boston's approach could be replicated in other cities, the Department of Justice
launched the Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative. This report presents the
main findings of a national assessment of the project approach in 10 cities.
The SACSI strategies in each city were developed by multiagency, multidisciplinary core
groups led by United States attorneys' offices.
Nine of the ten SACSI sites targeted homicide, youth violence or firearms violence. Memphis
was the exception, where the SACSI partnership focused on reducing rape and sexual
What did the researchers find?
The study found that the SACSI approach, when implemented effectively, is associated
with reductions in targeted violent crimes, sometimes by as much as 50 per cent. Successful
elements of the SACSI approach include the leadership provided by United States attorneys'
offices, the integration of research into the planning and intervention strategies,
collaborative strategic planning and implementation of a range of intervention strategies.
What were the study's limitations?
Because the SACSI programme did not involve random assignment or perfectly matched
controls for the target areas, it is not possible to say definitely that SACSI alone was
responsible for the reductions in crime, or whether it was SACSI in combination with
other anti-crime efforts (or other factors altogether). Cities of similar size across the United
States experienced decreases in violent crime in the late 1990s, but the decreases were
significantly greater in the SACSI cities.
*Adapted from: Jan Roehl and others, "Paving the way for Project Safe Neighbourhoods: SACSI in 10 US Cities",
United States Department of Justice, NIJ Research in Brief, April 2008, available from www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/
The success of the project at its 10 sites has in turn led to the scaling up of the
probation were complying with their curfew, and there was a concerted re-entry
project to work with parolees prior to their release.
The project has been flexible,
Project Safe Neighbourhood: A National Program to Reduce Gun Crime--Final
Project Report (Washington, D.C., 2009).