This study evaluated the community impact of San Bernardino, CA’s civil gang injunction strategy.
In late 2002, it had become clear that the gang problem in San Bernardino was out of control, with violent crime rates skyrocketing. In response, local police announced a civil gang injunction (CGI) that placed restrictions on the activities of gang members, such as loitering at schools and riding bicycles. The goal was to diminish residents’ sense of insecurity and promote a safer community by curtailing gang member activities. This study evaluated the impact of the CGI on the Verdugo Flats neighborhood of San Bernardino by surveying residents in 5 neighborhoods in and around Verdugo Flats on their perceptions and experience of crime, gang activity, and neighborhood quality both 18 months prior to the CGI strategy (N=797 residents) and then again 6 months after the CGI was issued (N=1,129 residents). Results of statistical analyses indicated an almost immediate impact of the CGI on gang visibility and residents’ level of fear. However, no significant impact was noted for the intermediate or long-term outcomes with the exception of reduction in residents’ level of fear. Moreover, negative effects were noted in the secondary and less disordered injunction area following the issuance of the CGI. The findings suggest that future CGI strategies should be coupled with strategies to improve neighborhood social organization and to provide positive alternatives for gang members. Footnotes, tables, references