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Youth, Firearms and Violence in Atlanta: A Problem-Solving Approach

NCJ Number
Date Published
30 pages
Publication Series
This report presents the methodology and findings from an evaluation of Atlanta's Project PACT's (Pulling America's Communities Together) efforts to reduce juvenile gun violence, which emerged as a top concern from PACT consensus-building sessions of Federal officials, local agencies, and community groups.
Baseline measures of the magnitude, extent, and nature of juvenile gun violence in Atlanta were obtained, and the findings were shared with a range of agencies and community groups. Through a lengthy series of training and problem-solving sessions, the best ideas of local law enforcement officers and juvenile justice officials were combined with promising programs from other cities to produce a list of possible interventions. A promising subset of police interventions, termed "strategic firearms enforcement," was selected for intervention. Instead of relying on fast response to 911 calls and post-incident investigations to apprehend violent juvenile gun offenders, the intervention sought to prevent the next 911 calls by breaking the chain of illegal events that led to shootings. The key elements of this strategy -- decrease illegal demand, reduce illegal supply, discourage illegal carrying, and deter illegal use -- can complement other community-based efforts, such as teen outreach and rehabilitation programs. The evaluation of the problem-oriented and implementation process yielded a number of lessons. First, building a partnership from scratch takes more energy and time than is usually anticipated. Second, achieving conceptual consensus about the importance of a problem does not guarantee that a practical consensus will be reached about how to deal with it. Third, in the "real world" of community problem-solving, evaluators cannot remain aloof from the decision-making process. Other lessons drawn are as follows: local data are needed to prompt local action; successful collaboration requires suspension of self-interest; it is difficult to focus on long-term objectives when beset by short-term distractions; and change comes slowly to large and complex organizations. 3 figures, 37 references, and appended detailed description of intervention strategies

Date Published: January 1, 2001