Community Policing Helps Reduce Youth Violence

Case studies of cities' approaches to reduce youth violence

Harvard Law School directed five case studies of four cities — Boston, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco — that have made significant efforts to reduce youth violence or reform the juvenile justice system.

Key Findings

The researchers found that:

  • Community policing — cooperative efforts between neighborhood residents and the police — in these cities has proved a successful way to reduce youth violence.
  • To combat youth violence most effectively, police departments must combine aggressive policing with deference to communities.
  • The eighth case study, of San Francisco, focused on that city's reform of its juvenile justice system and found that politics played a large role in the effort.

Key Results

  • The case studies are taught at Harvard's Law School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and can be purchased by other schools.
  • A book on law enforcement and prevention efforts involving the police in Boston, New York, and Chicago, with an ethnographic study of the impact of the Boston programs on the city's youth and parents, has also been completed.

Funding

A $50,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) funded the studies. With the addition of two other case studies not funded by RWJF, a total of seven case studies (one of Boston, four of New York, and two of Chicago) focused on violence prevention programs supported by the police in those three cities.