Dallas (TX) Anti-Gang Initiative

Suppression; Ages 10–16

Effectiveness

(Read the criteria for this rating)
  • Promising gang structure

Description

The Dallas (TX) Anti-Gang Initiative targeted five geographical areas that were home to seven of the city’s most violent gangs. Three main suppression strategies were employed:

  • Saturation patrols/high-visibility patrols in target areas—These patrols stopped and frisked suspected gang members and made appropriate arrests.
  • Aggressive curfew enforcement—Ordinances were strictly enforced whenever suspected gang members were encountered.
  • Aggressive enforcement of truancy laws and regulations—Police worked in conjunction with school districts to curb truancy.

Gang unit officers teamed with community-policing officers to carry out selected strategies in each of the five geographical areas. By examining weekly and monthly police reports that documented overtime-funded activities, evaluators determined which of the three suppression strategies various Dallas police teams mainly used. Patrol beats that had a similar number of gang-related violent offenses in a one-year period prior to the anti-gang initiative were selected for comparative evaluation purposes. Gang-related violent offenses reported to the police before and during the initiative were analyzed in both target and control areas. The analysis showed that gang-related violence decreased significantly during 1996–97 in both target and control areas; however, the decrease was more substantial in targeted areas (57 percent versus 37 percent). The larger decrease in gang-related violence in targeted areas was attributed to the use of two combined strategies: aggressive enforcement of curfew and truancy laws and regulations. Traditional (undirected) saturation patrol did not produce significant reductions when used as the main suppression strategy. The authors advise that these results must be interpreted with caution and replicated across and within several jurisdictions before broad and definitive conclusions can be drawn about the usefulness of a particular strategy. Although this program no longer exists, it is a relatively straightforward model that any community can implement.

Risk Factors

Individual
Conduct disorders (authority conflict/rebellious/stubborn/disruptive/antisocial)
Early and persistent noncompliant behavior
Early onset of aggression/violence
General delinquency involvement
High alcohol/drug use
Low perceived likelihood of being caught
Physical violence/aggression
Violent victimization
School
Frequent truancy/absences/suspensions; expelled from school; dropping out of school
Low school attachment/bonding/motivation/commitment to school
Poor school attitude/performance; academic failure
Community
Availability of firearms
Feeling unsafe in the neighborhood
High-crime neighborhood
Neighborhood physical disorder
Neighborhood youth in trouble
Peer
Association with antisocial/aggressive/delinquent peers; high peer delinquency
Association with gang-involved peers/relatives
Peer alcohol/drug use

Endorsements

National Gang Center: Promising program

Contacts

Gang Unit
Dallas Police Department
1400 South Lamar Street
Dallas, TX 72515
Phone: (214) 671-GANG
Fax: (214) 670-8250

Eric J. Fritsch, Ph.D.
Criminal Justice Department
University of North Texas
Denton, TX 76203-5017
Phone: (940) 565-4954
E-mail: fritsch@unt.edu

References

Fritsch, E. J.; Caeti, T. J.; and Taylor, R. W. (1999). “Gang Suppression Through Saturation Patrol, Aggressive Curfew, and Truancy Enforcement: A Quasi-Experimental Test of the Dallas Anti-Gang Initiative.” Crime and Delinquency, 45:122–139.

Fritsch, E. J.; Caeti, T. J.; and Taylor, R. W. (2003). “Gang Suppression Through Saturation Patrol and Aggressive Curfew and Truancy Enforcement: A Quasi-Experimental Test of the Dallas Anti-Gang Initiative.” In S. H. Decker (ed.), Policing Gangs and Youth Violence. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning, pp. 267–284.

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