Creating an Effective Foundation to Prevent Youth Violence:

Lessons Learned from Boston in the 1990s

September 26, 2005
Anthony Braga (Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School) and Christopher Winship (Diker Tishman Professor of Sociology, Harvard University)

This brief is primarily based on "Partnership, Accountability, and Innovation: Clarifying Boston’s Experience with Pulling Levers" an essay by Braga and Winship that appears in David Weisburd and Anthony A. Braga (eds.), Police Innovation: Contrasting Perspectives, from Cambridge University Press.

Police strategies can acquire true legitimacy within the inner city only if the community partner publicly supports police tactics when they are appropriate and criticizes them when they are not. By engaging the Ten Point ministers in their violence prevention efforts and creating a sense of joint ownership of the youth violence problem, the Boston Police Department created the political support necessary for both innovation and more focused and aggressive intervention. Without such support, the police cannot pursue an innovative enforcement strategy that targets truly dangerous youth at the heart of urban violence problems.