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About this book

This book explores multi-year community-based crime prevention initiatives in the United States, from their design and implementation, through 5-year follow ups. It provides an overview of programs of various sizes, affecting diverse communities from urban to rural environments, larger and smaller populations, with a range of site-specific problems. The research is based on a United States federally-funded program called the Byrne Criminal Justice Initiative (BJCI) which began in 2012, and has funded programs in 65 communities, across 28 states and 61 cities.

This book serves to document the process, challenges, and lessons learned from the design and implementation of this innovative program. It covers researcher-practitioner partnerships, crime prevention planning processes, programming implementation, and issues related to sustainability of community-policing initiatives that transcend institutional barriers and leadership turnover. Through researcher partnerships at each site, it provides a rich dataset for understanding and comparing the social and economic problems that contribute to criminality, as well as the conditions where prosocial behavior and collective efficacy thrive. It also examines the future of this federally-funded program going forward in a new Presidential administration.

This work will be of interest to researchers in criminology and criminal justice, particularly with an interest in translational/applied criminology and crime prevention, as well as related fields such as public policy, urban planning, and sociology.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. In Support of Innovative Partnerships for Crime Prevention: The Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program

This chapter serves as the introduction to a set of cases that describe the planning, implementation, and assessment of a federally funded and locally administered crime prevention program: the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) program. The BCJI program emerged in 2012 as part of a suite of three federal programs known as the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI). This three-pronged initiative sought to link federal support to improvements in affordable housing crime prevention and a decrease in poverty through investments in education, training, and targeted incentives for private development in designated areas. While the BCJI program represented a new type of federal anti-crime program, it shares much in common with other programs that have come before it, many with similar theories as to the causes of crime, as well as a clear set of prescriptions toward its reduction and prevention. This chapter offers a description of the BCJI program; the history of federal efforts in support of local crime reduction; a concise review of the relevant theories that drive the programs’ preferred set of intervention points; and a summary of nine local case studies, followed by a final chapter that describes the technical assistance challenges in building locally informed, innovative, and comprehensive crime prevention programs.
Robert J. Stokes, Charlotte Gill

Chapter 2. Community-Based Empowerment, Collective Efficacy, and Collaborative Data-Sharing: Key Elements for Crime Reduction Planning in Baltimore

Baltimore City was selected in 2013 as one of the initial recipient cities of the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) grant. The focus neighborhood, McElderry Park, is located in east Baltimore. The approach for the BCJI grant involved community participation through a newly established advisory council, the McElderry Park Revitalization Coalition (MPRC), to better understand deep-rooted concerns that cause crime to persist in the neighborhood and to collaboratively formulate a multipronged approach to addressing these issues. The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) at the University of Baltimore (UB) served as an embedded research partner. A community-driven planning process was conducted to develop a plan. The top five themes addressed in the plan included physical disorder, crime and safety, law enforcement relations and response, lack of employment, and lack of youth programs/activities. The three-pronged approach to the project, implemented by many different stakeholders in the neighborhood, led to effective outcomes.
Seema Iyer, Cheryl Knott, Andrea Cantora

Chapter 3. A Community-Based Response to the Opioid-Epidemic-Linked Crime in Dayton, Ohio

The Dayton, OH, Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program (BCJI) site embarked on a multi-sector partnership effort focused on the reduction of opioid addiction, overdose deaths, and property crime directly associated with opioid users in the target neighborhood. Within the context of a broader effort, a community-based, non-arrest strategy directed at opioid addicts was developed, utilizing a motivational interviewing program intervention. The planned set of program interventions had two effects: first, more opioid addicts entered treatment as a result of the community engagement effort. Second, information gleaned from the ongoing dialogue with addicts helped accelerate several community-based efforts. These included opening a site for medication-assisted treatment and a newly formed collaboration between the police department and a local community service organization that expanded outreach to those who had been saved by naloxone treatment after an overdose. The BCJI program in Dayton reinforced the idea that crime reduction must be embedded in a community collaboration. The BCJI process enabled a shared policy and program space in which participants could bring their contacts, knowledge, and skills together. The final set of program innovations plied in Dayton exemplified the goals and aspirations of the BCJI program.
Brian John, Amanda Arrington, Jan LePore-Jentelson, Richard Stock

Chapter 4. Improving Community Governance to Reduce Crime: The Case of the Philadelphia’s Mantua BCJI Program

This chapter reports on the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) program in Philadelphia. The research locale, the Mantua neighborhood located in West Philadelphia, received a BCJI grant in 2012 that ran until 2016. This work is focused on new governance organization that emerged from a set of federal grant programs known as the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative pursued under the Obama Administration. The stated aims of the BCJI program involved building the organizational capacity of the community to be effective planning and problem-solving agents. Increased community capacity would then be leveraged to reduce the number of criminogenic places in Mantua by first determining – through a geographically focused, data-driven effort – the nature of crime, violence, and disorder in the community. Programs developed in the planning process included crime prevention through environmental design efforts, police-led hot spot interventions, a block leadership program, and youth-focused safety and engagement programming. Reporting on both process and selected outcome results, this chapter reports on the problems and prospects of a community organizational effort around the policy issue of crime. Research utilized a mixed-method approach, including systematic observation, focus groups, GIS analysis of crime, and personal interviews.
Robert J. Stokes

Chapter 5. Building a “Beautiful Safe Place for Youth”: The Story of an Effective Community-Research-Practice Partnership in Rainier Beach, Seattle

Translational criminology—the practice and process of bringing research evidence into strategies and decision-making in the criminal justice field—is growing in importance. However, there remain significant barriers to the development and sustainability of evidence-based policy and practice. In the United States, federal funding initiatives like the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) program have provided the impetus to further translational criminology efforts by promoting sustainable, data-driven partnerships between researchers, police and local government agencies, community organizations, and residents. In this chapter, we describe the factors needed to develop a successful partnership through a case study of the Seattle, WA BCJI program, Rainier Beach: A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth (ABSPY). We begin with a discussion of the literature on translational criminology, including barriers to and facilitators of successful translation. We then describe the history, characteristics, and key stakeholders of ABSPY and how we built an approach that reflects best practices in researcher-practitioner partnerships. We conclude with lessons learned and recommendations for sustaining similar efforts in collaborations between communities, local governments, and academics.
Charlotte Gill, Claudia Gross Shader

Chapter 6. Cleveland, Ohio: A Community Law Enforcement Partnership for Sustainable Neighborhood Change

We describe the implementation and outcomes of a Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) program in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, which took place from 2014 to 2017. The key elements of the strategy included (1) identifying a high-crime-, violence-, and gang-involved neighborhood that would benefit from BCJI resources; (2) implementing intelligence-led policing strategies known to be effective in reducing firearm violence; (3) involving community members and organizations in planning, implementation, and sustainability efforts; and (4) selecting a target area small enough so that effective intervention could realize neighborhood change and improved safety. Originally, the proposed activities were law enforcement driven and community complemented, but the planning process soon reversed that focus so that activities as implemented became more community driven with intelligence-led policing activities supporting those efforts. Existing and new strategies implemented in the target neighborhood are discussed in detail. Evidence of BCJI impact and outcomes are presented via police data citywide and from the target area and from a youth survey about their perceptions of law enforcement. Challenges to implementation and evaluation and opportunities for future directions are also discussed.
Daniel J. Flannery, Liuhong Yang, Mark I. Singer, Michael Walker

Chapter 7. Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Grant Program in Providence, Rhode Island

The Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) initiative was focused in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence. The Olneyville section of Providence has a history closely tied with the textile industry, and the industry’s collapse in the mid-twentieth century distressed the neighborhood in many ways we still see today. For example, Olneyville has a disproportionately high number of chronically vacant residences compared to other similarly situated neighborhoods. Similarly, Olneyville has a disproportionately large percentage of vacant land, residential parcels in tax delinquency, and property foreclosures. It is currently among the most economically distressed neighborhoods in Providence. Olneyville has also experienced challenges relating to crime. Olneyville reported the highest number of violent crimes between 2010 and 2013 when compared to other neighborhoods in Providence. Known locally as Community and Police Alliance (CaPA), the BCJI initiative in Providence was a community-led approach that sought to improve community conditions and crime issues. The BCJI-Providence plan focused on five priority outcomes: reductions in crime, particularly serious assaultive crime; reduction in quality of life problems; improvement of the physical environment to reduce crime and disorder; and the redevelopment of nuisance properties and the increase in affordable housing. Surveys, interviews, and examination of official crime data suggested that the BCJI program was an effective mechanism for both focusing services and encouraging the Providence Police Department and community groups throughout Olneyville to stay engaged in productive communications around the issue of crime and community development.
Sean Varano, Stephanie Manzi

Chapter 8. “Harmony in the Hills”: Peaks and Valleys in the Berea, KY, Rural BCJI Program

The Berea, KY, Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) program, funded in FY 2015, was one of BCJI’s few completely rural sites. The program was intended to empower and mobilize local communities to develop evidence-informed approaches to reducing youth crime in three counties in Appalachian Kentucky. The program was grounded in criminological theories of crime and place, as well as extensive qualitative cultural research and storytelling with local communities to uncover their perceptions of crime and safety, youth development, and ideas for change. However, despite substantial community buy-in and a robust planning phase, implementation could not be completed due to a “course correction” in the goals of the BCJI program, which was at odds with the strategies our communities proposed. Nonetheless, we learned a number of valuable lessons throughout the process about how to apply community-led, data-driven, place-based crime prevention strategies in rural settings, which have been largely neglected in traditional criminological research. In this chapter we describe the unique challenges of applying BCJI principles to a rural community and the successes and pitfalls of our program. We conclude with recommendations for rural community- and place-based research and practice.
Jenna Meglen, Charlotte Gill

Chapter 9. Unfamiliar Waters: Expectations Versus Reality for a Newly Minted Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Grant Research Partner in the City of St. Louis

The City of St. Louis, Missouri, received a Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Planning and Implementation Grant in 2015 to support place-based and person-focused strategies intended to enhance safety in two neighborhoods, Carr Square and Columbus Square. This chapter focuses on our work as the research partner in this grant. We begin by providing an overview of the site and grant activities, describing its progression from planning through implementation. We then outline our understanding of the role of research partner and how this evolved over the duration of the grant. As part of this discussion, the ways in which the reality of our work sometimes diverged from expectations are highlighted. Next, we describe some of the challenges we faced while serving in an unfamiliar, nontraditional research role and working in a deindustrialized city struggling to transform itself. While lengthy bureaucratic processes, issues with resident engagement, and problems sustaining a relationship with the police made implementation difficult, our position as researchers, external to city government, positioned us to assist our partners with addressing some of these issues. At the same time, the assistance of our partners was critical for carrying out our activities. It is our hope that the ideas presented here can help future research partners navigate, what may be for them, unfamiliar waters.
Lee Ann Slocum, Cherrell Green, Thomas Owen Baker

Chapter 10. Applying the ACTION Framework to BCJI in Tucson, Arizona

The Tucson BCJI case, known as THRIVE in the 05, is focused on a cluster of small neighborhoods near the urban core of Tucson, Arizona. The THRIVE in the 05 community is known for its unique history and cultural vitality. Despite its unique historical character, the THRIVE in the 05 community currently faces many challenges that limit opportunities for community and economic development, including crime. In this chapter, we describe the THRIVE in the 05 planning and assessment phase process and outcomes and the application of the ACTION framework - a research framework that was developed to guide research and planning efforts. The ACTION framework is made up of four domains: assess, connect, transform, and in our neighborhood. Each of these domains is grounded in an overarching principle of shared expertise among community partners (i.e., those individuals who live in or otherwise have stake in the target community) and researchers. The principle of shared expertise recognizes that community members and research partners each bring unique expertise, skills, and experiences to the table that strengthen the research design. In terms of process, this translates into joint decision-making and ensuring that both entities have equal power to share perspectives and knowledge. Ultimately, this results in action-focused research that optimizes scientific rigor and community authenticity, leading to the co-creation of intervention strategies to address community concerns in meaningful and sustainable ways.
Mary Ellen Brown, Katie Cotter Stalker

Chapter 11. National Support for Collaborative Approaches to Neighborhood Safety: Developing a Technical Assistance Approach for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program

This chapter describes the evolution of federal policy intervention that informed the BCJI program through a review of the history of prior federal, locally-supportive programming in community safety. It also offers a review of the purpose and role of technical assistance in this BCJI context, with a special focus on LISC’s public safety and justice model. Third, an organizational framework is developed around the four pillars of the BCJI program, which include data-driven decision-making, cross-sector partnerships, community engagement, and program sustainability. Within these pillars, examples of the challenges and successes of early adopters of the BCJI program are discussed. The fourth and final section will offer a set of conclusions and recommendations for future interactions of this program.
Matt Perkins


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