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Multidisciplinary Teams, Street Outreach, and Gang Intervention: Mixed Methods Findings from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Denver

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2023
46 pages

The authors’ goal for this paper was to advance the science of gang intervention by evaluating a non-law enforcement intervention in Denver, Colorado, that uses multidisciplinary teams and street outreach workers to simultaneously change the behavior and identity of gang members.


Community violence intervention and prevention initiatives aim to develop local infrastructures that inoculate communities from violence. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to evaluate an intervention designed to facilitate disengagement from gangs and desistance from crime. An impact evaluation, based on a preregistered randomized controlled trial, was paired with a process evaluation, based on field observations and interviews, of the Gang Reduction Initiative of Denver’s centerpiece intervention that uses multidisciplinary teams and street outreach workers to construct and implement coordinated case plans for high-risk gang members. The results of the impact evaluation revealed that clients assigned to the intervention were nearly 70 percent less likely to perpetuate violence yet were three times more likely to identify as gang members. The results of the process evaluation indicated that multidisciplinary teams were effective in securing services for their clients. Despite their limited training and heterogenous strategies, street outreach workers were viewed positively by their clients and were observed to prioritize behavior over identity change. These findings are situated within longstanding tensions concerning the use of outreach workers and the targeting of gang behavior and/or identity in violence reduction, along with the emergence of community violence intervention and prevention supported by large-scale federal investment. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: April 1, 2023