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“We Carry Guns to Stay Safe”: Perspectives on Guns and Gun Violence from Young Adults Living in Chicago’s West and South Sides

October 4, 2018

Homicide is the leading cause of death for black boys and men ages 15 to 34 in Chicago, and the easy availability of guns is a contributing factor. To stem the tide of gun violence in Chicago, policymakers need more insight into why young adults carry guns and what might deter them from doing so. The Urban Institute, in partnership with community program providers,  surveyed young adults living in Chicago's West and South Side neighborhoods with high rates of gun violence. This survey's purpose was to learn firsthand whether and why young adults in these neighborhoods carry guns, how they acquire firearms, how they experience gun violence and policing, and what they think could reduce gun carrying and promote safety.

Put the Guns Down: Outcomes and Impacts of the Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy

August 22, 2017

Across the United States, policymakers, practitioners, and communities are seeking ways to reduce the lethal violence highly concentrated in a relatively small number of urban neighborhoods. With funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) collaborated with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and other city stakeholders to implement the Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy (VRS), beginning in 2009. Chicago VRS identifies and targets street groups disproportionately responsible for gun violence and works to deter additional violence using a three-pronged strategy: criminal justice sanctions, community moral suasion, and social services provision. The intervention includes call-in meetings in the targeted police districts, during which identified group members are put on notice by VRS partners—including top leadership from CPD, federal and state prosecutors, and credible community messengers—that although they are valued community members, gun violence must stop, and that street groups represented in the meeting that continue to be involved in shootings will be the target of coordinated enforcement actions. Researchers at the Urban Institute and Yale University, in partnership with NNSC, conducted a comprehensive, mixed-methods, quasi-experimental outcome and impact evaluation of Chicago VRS funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The evaluation began in November 2011, seeking to determine whether and how Chicago VRS affected group member–involved violence and how the intervention may have been related to perceptions of group members, community residents, and police officers.

Mistrust and Ambivalence between Residents and the Police: Evidence from Four Chicago Neighborhoods

July 31, 2017

This brief examines the fractured relationship between residents in high-crime Chicago neighborhoods and the police that serve those communities. Based on surveys of people living in and police officers serving in four Chicago police districts on the city's south and west sides collected as part of the evaluation of the Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy, these data demonstrate ambivalence between the police and residents. Community members do not generally perceive the police as acting in a procedurally fair manner and do not support their work; this perception is particularly high among people with recent arrest histories in co-offending networks. Police officers do not believe the community trusts them, and officers express little confidence or trust in those living in the districts they police. However, residents are generally willing to cooperate with the police on crime control efforts.