Senior Research Associate, Urban Institute
- The Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy (VRS) reduced violence among the street groups who were treated by the intervention.
- Group members who participated in VRS perceived a level of improvement in neighborhood safety.
- Strong police-community cooperation is a key pillar of VRS, and a high level of mistrust between these two groups threatens the underlying foundation of this intervention.
In the research report, “Put the Guns Down: Outcomes and Impacts of the Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy,” Fontaine tested the efficacy of the Violence Reduction Strategy (VRS) in reducing violence and improving community perceptions to help deter future violence. The report evaluated VRS as a strategy in helping to reduce lethal violence that is highly concentrated in a relatively small number of urban neighborhoods. The VRS identified and targeted street groups who are disproportionately responsible for gun violence and worked to impact their behavior to deter future violence. The intervention utilized several different strategies, including face-to-face meetings with individual street group members and community leaders/police officers in an effort to increase positive communication and reduce levels of violence in the community. Following implementation of the VRS, information was gathered through follow up surveys and interviews to determine the efficacy of the intervention. The report found that the VRS reduced violence among the groups treated by the intervention and that group members treated by VRS perceived improvements in neighborhood safety. The report cautioned that a threat to the future efficacy of VRS is the high level of mutual mistrust between group members and police officers, as the strategy depends on strong police-community relationships.