U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Ending Gang Homicide: Deterrence Can Work

NCJ Number
Stewart Wakeling
Date Published
February 2003
8 pages
This paper describes how Stockton, CA, adapted the Ceasefire approach proven effective in Boston, MA, in reducing gang-related youth homicide by just over 75 percent.
In Boston, a strategy called "Ceasefire" achieved a 60-percent reduction in youth-perpetrated homicide by combining intensive enforcement activity, enhanced collaboration among law enforcement agencies, and direct communication with gangs and gang members. Stockton's adaptation of Ceasefire unfolded over several months from the fall of 1997 through the fall of 1998. The Stockton Police Department (SPD) began by reassigning several patrol officers to a new unit that would focus on violent gangs. This Gang Street Enforcement Team (GSET) had a mandate to respond to gang violence with intensive, ongoing enforcement efforts. The SPD then began reaching out to other law enforcement agencies that could help target violent gangs. The goal was to link the efforts of all the local, county, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies already working on the problem of gang violence in the county. These agencies pooled their traditional resources and joined together in sending the GSET message to youth gangs that violence, particularly homicide, would be addressed with the full resources of law enforcement and the courts. The most common forum for communicating this message was group meetings with youth on probation or parole who were at high risk of becoming involved in gang violence. Meetings were also held with at-risk youth at local secure facilities. In addition, Stockton worked with officials from San Joaquin County in creating and expanding programs that provided gang-involved youth with alternatives to violence. Stockton's effort is also significant because it didn't rely on a large grant or new funding stream to support its anti-violence initiative. The city used the financial resources and programs available to it in mounting a cost-effective strategy against youth-involved homicide. 1 figure and 6 notes