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Across the United States, policymakers, practitioners, and communities are seeking ways to reduce the lethal violence highly concentrated in a relatively small number of urban neighborhoods. With funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) collaborated with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and other city stakeholders to implement the Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy (VRS), beginning in 2009. Chicago VRS identifies and targets street groups disproportionately responsible for gun violence and works to deter additional violence using a three-pronged strategy: criminal justice sanctions, community moral suasion, and social services provision. The intervention includes call-in meetings in the targeted police districts, during which identified group members are put on notice by VRS partners—including top leadership from CPD, federal and state prosecutors, and credible community messengers—that although they are valued community members, gun violence must stop, and that street groups represented in the meeting that continue to be involved in shootings will be the target of coordinated enforcement actions. Researchers at the Urban Institute and Yale University, in partnership with NNSC, conducted a comprehensive, mixed-methods, quasi-experimental outcome and impact evaluation of Chicago VRS funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The evaluation began in November 2011, seeking to determine whether and how Chicago VRS affected group member–involved violence and how the intervention may have been related to perceptions of group members, community residents, and police officers.
More than 10 murder-suicides, almost all by gun, occur each week in the United States, according to "American Roulette: Murder-Suicide in the United States", a new study by the Violence Policy Center (VPC). The study used a national news clipping service and Internet survey tools to collect incidents nationwide from January 1, 2005, through June 30, 2005, and is one of the largest and most comprehensive studies ever conducted on murder-suicide. During this six-month period, at least 591 Americans died in 264 murder-suicides, and almost all murder-suicides (92 percent) involved a firearm. Using these figures, the VPC estimates that nearly 1,200 Americans die each year in murder-suicides.VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, "Murder-suicide wreaks havoc on hundreds of American families each year. Much more needs to be done to understand and prevent murder-suicide. One key aspect of prevention is reducing access to firearms, by far the weapon of choice in murder-suicide."