ICS faculty and staff are some of the world’s leading experts in using the Focused Deterrence model of violence reduction to directly communicate consequences for violence to at-risk gang members and have successfully strategized, designed, implemented and evaluated violence reduction efforts in cities across North America and Scotland.
Focused deterrence strategies are generally comprised of law enforcement, social service, and community partners who reject the violence in clear, direct ways. First, various law enforcement agencies are coordinated to create meaningful and predictable consequences for groups who engage in violence. This component of the strategy is referred to as “pulling levers,” as law enforcement attempts to pull every lever legally possible following a violent incident. To respond to violent groups in a swift and predictable manner requires a coordinated effort among several agencies that prioritize group violence, share information, and develop comprehensive group-focused responses. Direct and accurate communication of the strategy to the target population (gang members) is of central importance to increase compliance. This is often done during “offender notification meetings” (also referred to as “call-ins” or “forums”), during which violent group/gang members are warned that if any member of their group commits an act of violence, the entire group will become the priority of law enforcement. Second, assistance for those who want to transition out of the violent lifestyle is often offered in the form of access to streamlined social and job services. Finally, key leaders within neighborhoods assist in the development of community engagement activities and strive to create a “moral voice” of the community by delivering a clear message of nonviolence and rejecting the norms and narratives of the street that promote violence.