January | February 2018

Stakeholder Corner: Ceasefire Detroit Contributes to Dramatic Drop in
Violent Crime

By Sheryl Jones, Director, Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative

Cease Fire logoWe should all feel safe and secure in our communities—on our streets, in our schools, at work, and in our homes. Yet, too many Americans are threatened by violence every day. Gun-related violence, in particular, represents a major threat to public safety in our cities and Detroit, MI, is working to address this challenge.

In many areas in the city, violence was commonplace and seemed impossible to stave off until the city established the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative in 2012. The Department of Justice has supported our crime-reduction efforts with OJJDP-administered technical assistance and youth violence prevention grants.

Ceasefire Detroit is a major and promising component of the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. The program’s goals are to reduce gun violence committed by and against youth, intervene with high-risk individuals and collaborate with community groups to improve their quality of life, and promote resiliency, emotional healing, and healthy responses to trauma and conflict. We based Ceasefire Detroit on the Boston Gun Project—an intervention strategy to reduce gang, group, and street crew gun violence among youth ages 16–24 that has grown into a national model.

Ceasefire Detroit currently operates in seven police precincts with the highest levels of violence, and is showing promising results. The program was implemented in its current form in Detroit’s 5th and 9th precincts in June 2015. That year, those precincts reported the largest reductions in shootings across the city. In June 2016, the program was expanded to the 6th, 8th, and 12th precincts. In 2017, the 6th precinct showed a 36-percent drop in homicides while the 8th and 12th precincts reported a 37-percent drop and a 3-percent drop, respectively. In January 2018, we expanded Ceasefire Detroit to two additional precincts and plan to have the program in all precincts by the end of the year.

left quoteIf you look at how other major cities have been able to deliver sustained reductions in violent crime, it has been a process of identifying the right strategies and building on them year by year. It also involves having the right partners and we have been fortunate to have great partners at the local, state, and federal levels working on this.right quote

—James Craig, Detroit Police Chief

Our success can be attributed to coordinated enforcement, prevention, intervention, and reentry efforts among the program partners—federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies; social service providers; and community members.

An important facet of the program involves “call-in” meetings during which members of the Detroit Police Department as well as representatives from the mayor’s, prosecutor’s, and United States Attorney’s offices meet in person with known gang members. The officials work to secure commitments from the gang members to resolve conflicts peacefully and advise them of the legal consequences of breaking that commitment. Through our community partnerships, we offer support in the form of housing, transportation, and job training and placement if the gang members choose to leave gang activity.

This holistic approach to violence reduction—adding large doses of compassion and support services to the strategy—results in a win for Detroit’s troubled communities. Ending the tragedy of gun violence will require a sustained effort at all levels. Together, however, we will make a difference, and bring greater security and peace to Detroit.


Read about OJJDP’s youth prevention initiatives and download a literature review on gang prevention from OJJDP's Model Programs Guide.

Learn about OJJDP’s Comprehensive Gang Model by visiting the National Gang Center.

Sheryl Jones is the director of the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative and a professional educator. Over the course of 30 years, she has developed and implemented numerous school, district, and citywide initiatives and worked on state and national projects. Sheryl’s passion is to help improve the quality of life for all Detroiters.