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Boston, Massachusetts Smart Policing Initiative: Evaluating a Place-Based Intervention to Reduce Violent Crime

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2012
14 pages

This report presents the methodology and findings of an evaluation of Boston's (Massachusetts) Safe Street Team (SST), which sought to modify the place characteristics, situations, and dynamics that promoted violence in 13 targeted "hot spots" (neighborhoods with high rates of violence).


The impact evaluation found that the SST strategy was linked to a 17.3-percent decrease in the total number of violent index crimes, a 19.2-percent reduction in the number of robberies, and a 15.4-percent reduction in the number of aggravated assaults. There was no evidence of the displacement of violence crime to neighboring jurisdictions. The SST officers deployed nearly 400 different situational/environmental, enforcement, and community/social service interventions in the 13 hot spots. All team members received in-service training that focused on both the SST program and problem-oriented policing generally. SST officers were required to engage community members and local merchants in identifying and responding to problems. SST officers were required to stay in their assigned areas unless an emergency call required their involvement. The report's descriptions of SST activities are categorized as situational/environmental (e.g., removal of graffiti and trash, adding or fixing lighting, removing abandoned vehicles); focused enforcement interventions (e.g., drug dealing, street gangs, and robbery crews); and community outreach/social service interventions (e.g., new recreational opportunities for youth, expanded social services, and planning community events). The impact evaluation used a non-randomized quasi-experimental design that matched the 13 SST target areas with comparable violent-crime hot spots throughout the city. 3 tables and 2 figures

Date Published: August 1, 2012