For the past two years, the Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) and the Office of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for Criminal Justice & Public Safety (CJPS) has been working to reduce the impact of group violence in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. The results from a recent independent evaluation speak for themselves: these efforts are working.
What is Group Violence Intervention?
We know that there is strong proof linking roughly 70 percent of shootings and homicides to .05 percent of the city’s population. Our efforts through the Group Violence Intervention (GVI) program directly target this small fraction of the community directly.
The GVI program provides social services and support to at-risk Philadelphians, focuses messaging on deterrence and law enforcement actions, and amplifies community-rooted messaging to combat violence. Team members have spent countless hours doing direct, in-person outreach to group members in strategically identified neighborhoods to make the maximum impact possible.
This evidence-based approach has led to a significant decrease in group-related violence, which we explore below.
Is GVI working?
Throughout the program’s initial execution period, our teams provided services to 113 groups in Philadelphia. Within those groups, 276 individuals were directly contacted at least once.
On average, these groups saw a 38.6 percent reduction in shootings per week. Groups who received services from the GVI program at least twice saw an even more significant drop (50.3 percent) in the number of weekly shootings.
CJPS enlisted the help of The University of Pennsylvania to evaluate GVI from a third-party perspective. The evaluator found that the program produced significant reductions in group-member-involved gun violence at both the group and neighborhood levels. Read the report in full, here.
Our battle with gun violence is far from over and the Kenney Administration is committed to continuing this critical work.
In response to the positive evaluation, the City is moving forward with expanding the GVI program and its services. Since the conclusion of the evaluation period, GVI has expanded into 15 police districts throughout the city of Philadelphia. In the next year, the GVI program plans to staff 12 case managers, three site supervisors, a peer retention specialist, and a data manager.
Reducing violence in our city is the highest priority and the progress of the GVI program shows that we can make a difference by strategically engaging those who are at risk of being engaged in gun violence. We will continue to invest in this approach going forward to make an even larger impact.
- Group: A network of individuals who commit violent crimes together. This can include neighborhood groups with no hierarchies or business.
- Shooting: A violent incident that results in some type of gunshot injury or fatality, and is reported to law enforcement.
- Group-Member Involved Shooting: A shooting is considered group-member involved if the victim is/was a member of a known group, the shooter was/is a member of a known group, both the victim and shooter were members of a known group, data shows that shooting is probably group related.