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Designing Safety: Public Safety Initiatives Managed by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development

New York City relies heavily, but not exclusively, on law enforcement to prevent crime and violence. Other interventions are essential to prevent crime and to avoid undue reliance on policing. City officials recently expanded three such programs: the Crisis Management System ...

Published onNov 11, 2023
Designing Safety: Public Safety Initiatives Managed by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development
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Abstract

New York City relies heavily, but not exclusively, on law enforcement to prevent crime and violence. Other interventions are essential to prevent crime and to avoid undue reliance on policing. City officials recently expanded three such programs: the Crisis Management System (CMS) which includes core components of the Cure Violence approach, the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety (MAP) focused on the safety of public housing, and the Precision Employment Initiative (PEI) that supports the work skills and job readiness of city residents.

New York’s Department of Youth and Community Development asked the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (JohnJayREC) to review the three programs and consider their suitability for evaluation research. The three initiatives were designed according to officials’ interpretation of the best available scientific evidence, but they have not yet been subject to rigorous research. More evidence is needed to establish existing program effects with enough reliability to ensure that any new efforts to expand each program would support communities and significantly reduce violence.

Each of the three programs launched by New York City presents methodological challenges for evaluation. Previous research at John Jay College examined two programs, CMS and MAP. Those studies offer some guidance for future measurement and analysis strategies. The third program, PEI, has not yet been involved in a detailed evaluation. However, the research literature related to its substance and focus (employment support) provides considerable background material.

Rigorous evaluations of the three programs would have to:

Measure each program’s intentions and activities, not only apparent outcomes.
Collect data at relatively small geographic levels (streets, neighborhoods, etc.).
Collect data over an extended period and account for the influence of elapsed time and other factors that occurred over the same period.
Measure the content and frequency of a program’s interactions with other social programs, city officials, and agency staff.
Measure the perceptions and opinions of agency staff and community residents regarding the actions and effects of programs.
Collect data about the well-being and job performance of staff and volunteers.
Measure other social and economic factors not directly related to program activities that may be correlated with its intended outcomes.

Staff members from DYCD asked JohnJayREC to review the three programs and provide information that could shape future efforts to improve their effectiveness in preventing and reducing community violence. The following report incorporates the research team’s review of available program documentation, each program’s key components and strategies, and relevant opinions and perceptions of program staff and community residents.

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