Can community intervention really solve the crime problem?

There’s a very interesting article at the Huffington Post claiming that increased profiling of the places where violent crime is most likely to occur, and the individuals and groups most likely to commit it, is having a dramatic effect on serious crime in US cities.  Here’s an excerpt.

A growing body of criminological evidence shows that serious violence (and much other crime) is concentrated among remarkably small numbers of “hot” people and places. We now know that homicide and gun violence are overwhelmingly concentrated among serious offenders operating in groups: gangs, drug crews, and the like representing under half of one percent of a city’s population commit half to three-quarters of all murders. We also know some reliable predictors of risk: individuals who have a history of violence or a close connection with prior victims are far more likely to be involved in violence themselves. Hot groups and people are so hot that when their offending is statistically abstracted, their neighborhoods cease to be dangerous. Their communities aren’t dangerous; they are.

Hot places are likewise very few and account for a startling proportion of a community’s crime. Research on hot spots shows violence to be concentrated in “micro” places, rather than in “dangerous neighborhoods,” as the popular idea goes. Blocks, corners, and buildings representing just five or six percent of an entire city will drive half of its serious crime.

The good news is that these concentrations create high-payoff opportunities to intervene. The cities that recognize this fact are creating community-based interventions with a laser-like focus on the people and places driving violence.

In Chicago, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Philadelphia, Oakland, and Stockton — all cities where homicide, not homicide reduction, has made headlines for years — a community, social service, and law enforcement partnership identifies group members with extensive criminal histories and engages them in meetings — “call-ins” — to demand an end to violence, explain the legal risks they face, and offer them help.

. . .

The approach can transform what are often broken relationships between police and historically troubled, oppressed, and deeply angry minority communities. By making it clear that law enforcement can tell the difference between the very few even potentially violent and everybody else, and leading with intervention rather than arrest and incarceration, law enforcement wins the trust of communities and strengthens their ability to act on their own behalf and police themselves.

This is not simply an aspiration; more and more, it is a proven approach.

There’s more at the link.

I’m not qualified to assess the value of the approaches this article discusses.  I fear many of them may be ‘feel-good’ panaceas instead of the strict policing that’s often conspicuous by its absence.  (The perspectives of ‘street cops’ on the subject are often vitriolic – see, for example, the views on crime, criminals and law enforcement of the authors of Second City Cop, a blog by and about Chicago police.)  I’m not sure whether a hard-line approach to crime hasn’t worked, or whether it’s not been sufficiently hard-line to have the desired effect.  On the other hand, we’ve got to do something to reclaim the crime- and violence-ridden urban ghettoes in our major cities.  If this approach can, indeed, produce the desired effect – perhaps allied with a hard-line approach to those who won’t ‘play the game by the rules’ – then I’m all for it.

What say you, readers?  Have any of you noticed this sort of program in action in your area, and seen any improvement in local crime rates?



  1. Early intervention is good.
    Better schools via dumping the unions and going to vouchers so the parents can direct their kids to schools away from gangs and bad influences (and giving people a REAL choice makes them feel empowered, and since criminals all start as kids…).
    Harder prison time where it's not a gang- or grievance- or jihad-breeding ground to deter those on the margins, combine with some philosophical education in cause and effect, good and evil, while they are in, so they get a better understand of their effects on society.
    Getting rid of GOVERNMENT corruption, so they can't just say "why we gotta be the chumps? Everybody doin' it, man! We just want OUR piece!"
    Welfare reform, so that being on the dole is a lifestyle that REALLY sucks, and structured so that any job, any earned income, always makes their life better, because there are no hard income levels that things cut off at.
    And of course, allow constitutional carry everywhere, especially big cities. Let the worst apples get weeded out "naturally."

  2. What ROLF said (above), plus CHANGING THE CULTURE – white, suburban-bred liberals have destroyed lower income families with an endless stream of feel good programs.

    The race warlords – Jackson, Sharpton, et al, are out to get fame and fortune for themselves and "some mo' monies" for the poor blacks who cheer them on because all the poor blacks can see is "us wants mo' monies" as if dollars filtered through a government bureaucracy are the answer. (side question: just where does Jesse Jackson's income come from?).

    As the HuffPo article states (but doesn't have the guts to identify the problem as young blacks) if you subtract crime committed by black males age 15-30 the statistics then show a very much lower, "white European" crime rate. I suspect this is largely the result of white liberals' 50 year attempt to show they're just so f****ng much smarter than everyone else they're the only ones who know how to manage a complex society.

    It would not surprise me if the HuffPo article is just another soon-to-be-failed-attempt in that long 50-year litany of Harvard/Stanford/Berkley "we're so much smarter" social/housing/government spending crap. It is HuffPo, after all.

    I say give it 5 years and if it doesn't work conduct midnight urban renewal by ARCLight and move on, because the problem is insoluble by modern methods.

  3. This did not always work in every neighborhood. But: There was a time when foot patrol was a good deterrent, because the same officers worked an area for a while, recognizing people and faces. Then they took to their cars, and legislation against profiling, which did work on foot, made for a bolder /unknown clientele.
    Liberals and welfare have turned poor white/ghettos/barrios into angry, undereducated denizens who have no true control over their own living quarters.
    And, Rolf is correct. Personally, I think HufffPo is doing a bit of a white-wash job, but then they are owned by AOL media and the main idea with MSM is that talking about it isn't like doing anything real. It's the perception that counts.
    I live near Stockton and shop there once or twice a month. I've been getting a strange itch in-between my shoulder-lades within the last year when I come into town. Sad. It's a great little city.

  4. We have EXACTLY the same problems here in Sydney, New South Wales Australia.
    The identity and locations of career-criminal families, criminal family groups and organised criminal groups, such as pseudo-bikie (1%-ers) groups that are in reality nothing but criminal organisations, is common knowledge across all stratas of Australian society.
    Yet, and for good reason, our Police and Authorities are heavily constrained from arbitrarily 'marching in' and systematically targeting them, destroying them.
    As a Policeman told me very recently, "We can't just break in and take them away, we're not allowed to".
    Such restraints are the difference between a Police State, and Police maintaining the rule of law.

  5. Too many police are on the payroll of criminal families.

    Which points to the need for vigilante groups, such as you see springing up spontaneously in Mexico in response to drug cartels.

    It's okay to have concealed carry, but when the opposition packs automatic weapons and RPGs, and law enforcement is on the criminal payroll, ordinary citizens are hung out to dry.

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