Focused deterrence strategies

Program basics

  • Law enforcement and community organizations partner to target a particular form of crime in a community
  • Coalition of law enforcement and community actors research key offenders, patterns of behavior, and other factors driving that particular crime, then use an array of strategies to reduce the frequency of target crimes
  • Strategies often include more traditional policing methods along with providing social services to offenders
  • Approaches often include direct communication with offenders through group meetings and other open forums. These meetings serve to inform target individuals of the additional focus of law enforcement, the changes that need to occur, and the social services that are available

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)

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Strong (second-highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps; the second-highest level of evidence by the National Institute of Justice


Target population

Community-wide

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Outcomes and impact

  • Reduced crime, including crime in gang settings
  • In Boston's Operation Ceasefire, youth homicides decreased 63%, monthly gun assaults declined 25% citywide, shots-fired calls for service declined 32%, and handgun recoveries increased 22%

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Strong commitment from law enforcement leadership is key to generating buy-in from law enforcement writ large.
  • Thoroughly-developed, collaboratively-created action plans can strengthen cooperation between law enforcement and community actors.
  • Partnerships with community leaders and local advocacy groups can help establish program legitimacy and build trust in the program and law enforcement.
  • To improve public support of these strategies, law enforcement and community organizations should develop relationships with local media and ensure that members of the press understand the logic behind the program, the specific strategies that are being used, and the collaborative way the strategy is being executed.
  • Qualitative research can help inform program strategy by providing greater context around the crime that involved actors are seeking to reduce.
  • National organizations like the National Network for Safe Communities can provide access to training and support.

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