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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Johns Hopkins Study: Hot Spot Policing Focused on Guns Is Most Effective Strategy for Reducing Gun Violence in Baltimore

A Baltimore program that assigns detectives to work in neighborhoods at high risk for gun violence was more effective at reducing gun violence in Baltimore than other initiatives, a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds. The so-called “hot spot” program, which focuses on individuals with a history of gun violence and curtailing illegal gun possession led to significant reductions in homicides and nonfatal shootings.

This finding is part of a new report, “Estimating the Effects of Law Enforcement and Public Health Interventions Intended to Reduce Gun Violence in Baltimore,” from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. The report analyzes data from 2003 through 2017 to estimate the effects of law enforcement and public health interventions designed to reduce gun violence within high-crime areas in Baltimore.

The report found that the hot spot program focused on guns, which is run by the Baltimore Police Department’s Violent Crime Impact Section (VCIS), led to a 12 to 13 percent reduction in homicides and 18 to 20 percent fewer shootings in areas where it was implemented between 2007 and 2012. Somewhat similar efforts were mounted in 2013 but were not linked with reductions in gun violence. In contrast, other programs that saw a reduction in gun violence in the short term saw an eventual return to previous levels. However, while successful in reducing gun violence, the behavior of some VCIS officers generated complaints of abuse and costly lawsuits for the City.

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