Study: CeaseFire Model Can Stop Epidemic of Gun Violence, Replicated in Baltimore

Jan 11, 2012, 3:13 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

>>EDITOR'S NOTE: On 9/13/2012 CeaseFire changed its name to Cure Violence.

New research released today reinforces the concept that gun violence can be reduced and prevented by taking a public health approach to the problem. Findings from a study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health show that shootings and killings in even America’s most violent communities can be reduced using the CeaseFire model—a model that employs disease control and behavior change strategies to reduce violence. CeaseFire employs ex-offenders who have unique credibility with community members and effectiveness in getting people to rethink the impulse to resolve disputes using guns.

Safe Streets Baltimore was launched by the Baltimore City Health Department in 2007 as a CeaseFire replication site, and research released today represents the first rigorous study of a replication of the CeaseFire model. In Baltimore, researchers found the Safe Streets program cut homicides by more than half in the Cherry Hill neighborhood. An earlier Department of Justice evaluation found 41 to 73 percent drops in shootings and killings in CeaseFire zones in Chicago.

NewPublicHealth spoke with CeaseFire founder, Gary Slutkin, about the CeaseFire model earlier this year. “If you release yourself from preconceived ideas about good and bad people and just look at what is actually happening, empirically you see that [violence] spreads like any other infectious disease,” said Slutkin. In another interview, Tio Hardiman, director for CeaseFire Illinois, commented on the CeaseFire approach, “You have to be able to detect conflicts before they arrive and before they escalate.”

Findings from the CeaseFire replication study in Baltimore include:

  • The Safe Streets program cut homicides by more than half in the Cherry Hill neighborhood.
  • In communities studied where Safe Streets wasn’t put into place, young people were seven times more likely to think it is okay to use a gun to settle disputes, compared to young people in Safe Streets neighborhoods.
  • Sites structured to follow the CeaseFire model most closely performed better than sites that deviated from the model. For example, sites that managed the program out of a single location appeared to have a greater impact on reducing shootings and killings than those spread across multiple neighborhoods.
  • The program was associated with reductions in gun violence in 3 of the 4 neighborhoods where Safe Streets was implemented.

UPDATE: Watch Daniel Webster, Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence, talk about the study.

Because of the promising results seen in this evaluation, the Safe Streets program will be expanding, having received a new $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice that will help bring the program to additional Baltimore neighborhoods.

>>Bonus: Read a Q&A with Kristin Schubert, director and a specialist within RWJF on violence prevention, on efforts to prevent the spread of violence.


This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.