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Keywords:

  • Street Gangs;
  • Civil Gang Abatement;
  • Community Organization;
  • Neighborhood Safety

Research Summary:

Civil gang injunctions are an increasingly popular gang suppression tactic. This article reports on the first scientific evaluation of the community impact of this strategy. San Bernardino residents in five neighborhoods were surveyed about their perceptions and experience of crime, gang activity, and neighborhood quality 18 months before and 6 months after the issuance of an injunction. Analyses indicated positive evidence of short-term effects in the disordered, primary injunction area, including less gang presence, fewer reports of gang intimidation, and less fear of confrontation with gang members, but no significant changes in intermediate or long-term outcomes except lower fear of crime. Comparison of this injunction area with a previous one suggested that improvements in neighborhood dynamics might accrue over the long term. Negative effects were observed in the secondary, less disordered injunction area.

Policy Implications:

This study suggests that the strategic suppression of gang member activities may translate into modest immediate improvements in community safety and well-being. Furthermore, the findings suggest that law enforcement use caution regarding the size of an injunction area and the type of gang targeted by the tactic. Coupling an injunction with efforts to improve neighborhood social organization and provide positive alternatives for gang members might substantially improve its effectiveness.