Five target areas were selected to receive the initiative, on the basis of high levels of gang-related crime. These areas were identified as home to the city’s seven most violent gangs.
To reduce gang-related violence, the program implemented three main suppression tactics:
Aggressive curfew enforcement. Juvenile curfew ordinances were strictly enforced, especially when suspected gang members were encountered. In Dallas, the law is that juveniles under 17 must be in their residence between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Aggressive truancy enforcement. The police department coordinated with schools to ensure that students did not miss classes and patrolled for students not at school during school hours. Texas law stated that juveniles between 6 and 17 had to be in enrolled in school and in attendance from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Officers patrolled areas during these times to make sure students were not skipping school.
Simple saturation patrol. Officers conducted high-visibility patrols in identified target areas. During these patrols, they conducted surveillance, stopped and frisked suspicious persons, and investigated suspicious activity. To provide a deterrent effect, their presence was made highly visible.
Teams of six to eight officers were assembled to implement the strategy. Officers were freed from responding to calls for service so they could concentrate on assigned duties.
The Dallas Anti-Gang Initiative was based on the idea of suppression of gang activity through law enforcement tactics. This is the deterrence theory—that increasing police patrol and making their presence highly visible provides a general deterrent effect. This theory was specifically tailored to the gang problem in
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Violent Gang-Related Offenses
Fritsch and colleagues (1999) found that the preintervention monthly mean of violent gang-related offenses was 20.9 for all target areas combined, and dropped to 8.9 postintervention. This was a statistically significant decrease of 57 percent.
The preintervention monthly mean was 22.6 for all control areas combined, and dropped to 14.3 postintervention. This was a statistically significant decrease of 37 percent.
After examining strategies used in target areas, it was found that aggressive curfew and truancy enforcement were effective in reducing gang-related violence, while saturated patrol alone was not. In addition, after an analysis of crime in targeted areas, the study found minimal evidence of displacement of crime to other areas.
Gang-Related Offenses Reported to Police
There were no statistically significant reductions in gang-related offenses reported to police. However, there were statistically significant increases in target areas in reported robberies (23.8 percent increase) and auto thefts (15.4 percent increase). There were also statistically significant decreases in target areas in reports of criminal mischief (15 percent decrease) and weapons violations (30 percent decrease). The 30 percent statistically significant decrease in criminal mischief was also seen in control areas.