Group Violence Intervention

Under GVI group members are offered strong motivation to stop the gun violence. Law enforcement partners explain to group members, face-to-face and in simple and respectful terms, that if any member of their group shoots and injures someone – anyone – then they will not only prosecute the shooter, they will thereupon accord high priority to the criminal behavior of all of the group members, pulling every conceivable enforcement lever on each group member who is susceptible to appropriate legal action – from home visits by probation officers and the enforcement of child support orders to narcotics enforcement and federal prosecution. This is a credible warning because the group members are few in number – a tiny fraction of the City’s population – and identifiable.  The choice is then the group members’ to make.  Group members are given advance notice about the consequences that will follow gun violence, and they decide for themselves whether they will subject themselves to these consequences.

Group members are also offered assistance. In the same face-to-face meeting in which the law enforcement consequences are explained, group members are invited to take advantage of services that can help them change their lives for the better. Providing services to group members who request them is made a priority.

Face-to-face meetings between group members and GVI partners are the most prominent medium of communicating the anti-violence message, though additional tools and channels are also important. A number of cities implementing GVI have adopted custom offender notifications as a tool to expand the reach of the anti-violence message. Custom notifications include the same core message as the one delivered in the group setting. They also offer: the ability to communicate with high-risk group members who are not under community supervision; the efficiency to communicate quickly to disrupt an emergent beef or spike in activity; and the opportunity to reduce the sense of anonymity by incorporating individualized information regarding legal risk into the message.  As the number of cities implementing GVI expands and experience in these cities accumulates additional innovations have been adopted to reflect local needs and to support and strengthen the core components of GVI.

GVI has proven effective in many other cities grappling with gun violence. Careful and scientifically valid evaluations have shown that strategies of this sort have reduced homicides by 34% in Indianapolis, reduced youth homicides by 63% in Boston, reduced shootings by 22% in Cincinnati, and reduced gun assaults by 43% in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Reports and Publications

Robert E. Worden and Sarah J. McLean, 2013, Syracuse Truce, Year One: An Assessment. Albany, NY: John Finn Institute for Public Safety.

Robert E. Worden and Sarah J. McLean, 2014, Syracuse Truce, Year Two: An Assessment.  Albany, NY: John Finn Institute for Public Safety.

Robert E. Worden, Sarah J. McLean, and Kelly J. Becker, 2015, Syracuse Truce: Third Annual Assessment.  Report to the Syracuse Police Department.  Albany, NY:John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety, Inc.