Profile No. 26

Youth Firearms Violence Initiative -- Bridgeport, CT

Program Type or Federal Program Source:
Initiative to deter gun carrying in crime hotspot areas; Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Program Goal:
To reduce youth firearm violence.

Specific Groups Targeted by the Strategy:
Juveniles and youth under age 25.

Geographical Area Targeted by the Strategy:
High-crime areas in Bridgeport, CT.

Evaluated by:
John Jay College of Criminal Justice,
New York, NY; Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA.

Contact Information:
Thomas Sweeney, Chief of Police
Bridgeport Police Department
300 Congress Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Phone: 203­576­7611

Years of Operation:

The Bridgeport Police Department (BPD) used support from COPS to develop a multifaceted gun violence reduction initiative that incorporated five distinct but interrelated components: warrant enforcement; ballistics identification; crime mapping; gun suppression; and prevention. The initiative received DOJ COPS' Youth Firearms Violence Initiative support for 18 months (through June 1997) and much of the demonstration effort is now institutionalized.

An enhanced warrant enforcement program provided for employment of two warrant administrative aides who were assigned to review all outstanding warrants with a priority for identifying firearm-related charges. Of 3,138 warrants researched during the program period, 833 were for narcotics offenses, 696 for probation violations, 652 for assaults, 260 for larcenies, and 172 for firearm charges.

Ballistics identification capacity was created internally through enhancements that included acquisition of a comparison microscope for ballistics examinations. Firearm evidence had previously been sent to an outside laboratory, delaying investigations by days; in house ballistics examinations permitted a 24-hour turnaround. The BPD is now part of the Drugfire Program, the FBI's automated computer technology that links firearm evidence across jurisdictions.

A crime-mapping system was developed to provide rapid identification of crime hotspots, with an emphasis on targeting gun incidents throughout the city. That system has been upgraded to provide immediate tracking of crime trends and appropriate deployment.

Gun Suppression Details were developed by training a special pool of officers that could be made available during all of their shifts for assignment to gun violence hotspots. During the program's operation, 174 details were deployed resulting in 43 gun seizures (22 of which were from juveniles).

Prevention education also was integrated into the initiative. "Character Counts," a national initiative developed through the Josephson Institute of Ethics, was brought in by BPD to train a pool of educators and counselors to present a curriculum to students of all grade levels on the concepts of trustworthiness, respect, fairness, caring, responsibility, and citizenship. The extent of the curriculum's infusion into the school system or community social programs has not been evaluated; however, BPD has become the first local law enforcement agency to be part of the Character Counts Coalition, a national organization of more than 60 community-related groups.

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