Profile No. 33

Operation Night Light -- Boston, MA

Program Type or Federal Program Source:
Program for surveillance of probationers.

Program Goal:
To effectively enforce the terms and conditions of probation with an eye on public safety, protecting the safety and rehabilitation of the offender.

Specific Groups Targeted by the Strategy:
Juveniles and youth on probation.

Geographical Area Targeted by the Strategy:
Boston, MA.

Evaluated by:
Internal data collection.

Contact Information:
Bernard Fitzgerald, Chief Probation Officer
Dorchester District Court
510 Washington Street
Dorchester, MA 02124
Phone: 617­288­9500

Years of Operation:

Operation Night Light began in November 1992 as a partnership between probation officers in the Dorchester, MA, District Court and Boston, MA, police officers in the Anti-Gang Violence Unit (which later became the Youth Violence Strike Force). This alliance was created at a time when Boston was experiencing heightened gang violence, a rise in homicide victims under the age of 17, public alarm, increasingly bold behavior of gang members in courthouses, and criticism by minority community leaders and judges of police "stop and search" tactics. Probation officers worked independently of police, and curfews were not commonly imposed by the court and were difficult to enforce. In response to those problems, a few probation officers met informally with a few police officers to develop the Operation Night Light model as a more effective way of deterring juvenile violence.

Operation Night Light pairs one probation officer with two police officers to make surprise visits to the homes, schools, and worksites of high-risk youth probationers during the nontraditional hours of 7 p.m. to midnight, rather than from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., which was previously the norm.

In Dorchester, where Operation Night Light started, probationer surrenders based on new arrests declined 9.2 percent between January 1994 and June 1996, compared with a statewide increase of 14 percent during the same period.

Operation Night Light is one element of a collaborative, comprehensive strategy that was implemented in Boston to address escalating violent crime rates. For a more detailed description and a discussion of how this program fits into Boston's overall crime reduction strategy, please see profile 2.

Previous Contents Next

Promising Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence OJJDP Report