Saving Lives: Ten Essential Actions Cities Can Take to Reduce Violence Now

Jan 12, 2022
  • Description

As 2022 begins, America's cities confront an ongoing surge in violent crime, particularly homicide. The Council on Criminal Justice documented a 30% rise in murders nationwide in 2020, while police data from large cities reveal another 7% increase in 2021. Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Portland, and at least ten other municipalities experienced the most homicides in their cities' history last year. This spike has been driven primarily by community gun violence, or violence involving firearms in community settings. It is claiming lives, tearing families and communities apart, filling prisons, and eroding support for policing and other criminal justice reforms. Policymakers and practitioners need to put polarized, "us versus them" politics aside and focus on solutions that strengthen both community and enforcement-based approaches.

In response to the crisis, the CCJ launched a Violent Crime Working Group in July 2021. Composed of a diverse range of leaders, the Group dedicated itself to saving lives by producing anti-violence guidance that is timely, relevant, and reliable. Since then, the Group has met 11 times, consulted with the field's leading experts, produced three reports on national crime trends, held two live public web events, and issued seven bulletins highlighting its key findings and featuring concrete recommendations to improve policy and practice in this critical area.

In this final report, the Group identifies Ten Essential Actions that cities can take now to reduce community gun violence. This list is not comprehensive; instead, it highlights the actions members believe are most likely to make the greatest immediate impact on violence. Listed in roughly sequential order, the actions are short-term measures that can be carried out within a year. They are not a substitute for longer-term strategies and investments that can address poverty, inequality, racism, and other underlying systemic causes of crime and violence. In addition, state and federal support are key to help cities succeed in their front-line anti-violence campaigns.