U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs; National Institute of Justice The Research, Development, and Evaluation Agency of the U.S. Department of Justice U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice ProgramsNational Institute of JusticeThe Research, Development, and Evaluation Agency of the U.S. Department of Justice

Translational Criminology and the Science of Community

NIJ Conference 2011
June 20-22

Welcome and Introduction

John H. Laub So the title of this session is Translating the Science of Community to Criminal Justice Practice (and Back). And I think it's fair to say that, historically, criminology and criminal justice have had a bias on individuals, individual focus on much of the research with respect to crime causation and individual focus with respect to much of the criminal justice policy and practice, be it rehabilitation, deterrence, what have you.

Despite that bias, we have about 100 years of research that indicates that crime is not randomly distributed across space. In fact, crime is concentrated within certain neighborhoods, certain communities. So there is an intuitive sense by those of us that do research as well as those of us who do criminal justice practice, that context matters.

But the question is, how does context matter? Why does context matter? Is it something about the community structure? Is it something about the community process? And, most importantly, what could be done about it?

Now, in the early 1990s, the National Institute of Justice funded, along with the MacArthur Foundation, the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. This was the largest project that NIJ has funded to date, and the focus of that project was to understand the effects of neighborhoods on human development. And I'm pleased that the Scientific Director of that project is here with us today, Robert Sampson.

What we're going to do with this session is Rob is going to begin talking about his work from the PHDCN project, and he's going to take a considerable amount of time to lay out some of the key findings from his work on communities and crime, and then followed, Chief, Commissioner Davis, Edward Davis, will spend about 15 minutes providing some commentary remarks, followed by Chief Michael Davis [who] will also do about 15 minutes of remarks, and then we'll have a chance to respond, and then hopefully, we will have a very interesting give-and-take.

Let me briefly introduce the three panelists for you, starting with Commissioner Edward Davis. Edward Davis is the 40th Police Commissioner of the City of Boston. Prior to becoming Commissioner, he served as the Superintendent of Police in Lowell, Massachusetts. Commissioner Davis has received numerous awards, including the National Leadership Award from the Police Executive Research Forum. He has also received the prestigious National Institute of Justice Pickett Fellowship and attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Government Executives at Harvard University.

Commissioner Davis holds masters degrees in criminal justice from Anna Maria College and a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from New Hampshire College. Commissioner Davis has served on the Police Executive Research Forum Board of the Directors and was the Founding Member of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs Association.

Chief Michael Davis — Michael is a sworn police officer for 19 years and Chief of Police for the Brooklyn Park Police Department for more than 3 years. Prior to joining the Brooklyn Park Police Department, Chief Davis was the Sector Commander for the Minneapolis Police Department. Chief Davis holds a masters degree in organizational management and a bachelors degree in criminal justice. Chief Davis also served as a community faculty at the Metropolitan State University since 2008.

Robert Sampson is the Henry Ford II Professor of Social Science at Harvard University and a Senior Advisor in the Social Sciences at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Science. He has also served as Chair of the Sociology Department at Harvard from 2005 to 2010, and for this academic year, he is a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City. Rob has won many awards and honors for his work, and I would say that even though he has a long list of research topics, including, as Tom mentioned, crime in the life course, he is the foremost urban sociologist around the world. And he is going to be talking about his work from the Project on Human Development, so please welcome Robert Sampson.


[End of video clip]

Lessons from Chicago and Beyond

Robert J. Sampson Thank you for that kind introduction. It's an honor to be here in this large crowd, early morning. And I think it's especially appropriate to present a bit on the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, seeing as the NIJ was really an historic funder of this project early on, along with the MacArthur Foundation. It was an example of a private/public collaboration that is somewhat unusual in science.

A bit on a caveat before I start: I'm not a policy expert, and this project is not policy evaluation. So I find this to be an interesting panel, and the title of Translational Criminology is a bit of an experimentation. My view is that research is about producing knowledge, and that knowledge we think is relevant to policy. But that link is difficult.

And furthermore, practice informs research, and that, going back, I think has not done as much in the field of criminology. So I'm very much looking forward to hearing from Commissioner Davis and Chief Davis on their thoughts on practice, and hopefully, at some point, the ideas that come out of this panel may be implemented.

I'm going to start off with the thesis, and it's pretty simple really. But you have to put this in the context of our contemporary era where much of the thought in social sciences, but also the public at large, is about the opposite — namely, how globalization, for example, has flattened the world, right, one of the best-selling books, Thomas Friedman, The World Is Flat. In social science, Anthony Giddens, a key social theorist, talks about placelessness, or the idea of place as fantasmagoria: cell phones, Tweeter, whatever, when you're walking down the street, everyone seems to be talking to someone else rather than where they are. They're constantly running into me in New York.

But in the world of placelessness, that thesis is right at some levels, but it's really wrong, I think, when it comes to crime and many other social phenomena. A, there's a deep neighborhood concentration to crime, but, and this is important for criminologists, it's important for social scientists, it's not just about crime; there is a deep social concentration in space across multiple social phenomena. I'll give you examples of that.

Thirdly, and this is tricky, there's change, right? I mean, poverty has gone up, it's gone down, there's gentrification, there's increasing immigration, diversity, there's the idea that neighborhoods are constantly changing. They are, but there is a persistence to the structure, and I'll show it to you, a persistent inequality.

And finally, it's not just about poverty, and that's one of the old mainstays in sociology and criminology. It's important, race is important, and I'll show you how, but social and cultural mechanisms are crucial in helping us explain that.

So, some examples: Let's start with crime. This is a map of Chicago, site of the project. And I've tried to make this simple: The stars here are homicide events proportional to the size of the population. Something like over 3,000 homicide incidents, and this is from the most recent data we were able to get from the police department, were coded in time and space, and the larger the star, the more the homicide. And what I've done in each of the communities is to array them by what I call child health: simply, low, medium, or high. And this is based on a scale of infant mortality and low birth weight babies, which is epidemiologically a strong indicator of child health.

And what you'll see is that there's a strong link: Areas of high violence are corresponding to areas where children are growing up in a quite disadvantaged neighborhood and have low health.

Now, this has many implications. Just to give you one recent study actually using our data, not for me, Pat Sharkey showed that exposure to violence among children led to cognitive deficits in learning that lasted many years. So child health, child learning, child intelligence — deeply connected to violence, and these are, in turn, part of a spatial story.

The response to crime in the criminal justice system is perhaps even more concentrated. This is a map of concentrated incarceration. Actually, we hear a lot about mass incarceration; I prefer to think of it as the local concentration of mass incarceration, because it's actually not mass. If you'll note, well, I don't think I have, yes, I'm going to forget the laser pointer given this, you'll note a top third or more of that map and the city, there are areas where it's even low, and in fact, some communities, there's hardly any incarceration, it's highly variable, and then some areas such as Austin and the West Side and the Southwest Side, have very, very high rates of incarceration. So this is deeply concentrated as well. Moreover, crime, like incarceration, is persistent.

I want you to, if possible, look at this chart a little bit because it shows you two things. It shows you not only the persistence of incarceration, on the x-axis is the incarceration rate in 1990 to '95, and on the y-axis to the left is the incarceration rate up to 2005. Over almost a 10-year period, that is a straight line. In social science, we often don't see lines like that; it's the correlation of .98, so not much is changing.

But the other thing you need to know is that the communities up to the right are those that are predominantly black, and the communities down to the left are predominantly white. And the differentials here are not just modest, they're not even large; they're shockingly large. And in fact, the two red arrows point out the highest rate of incarceration in the black community and the white community — that is, predominantly white community that has the highest rate of incarceration — the differential is over 40 times, okay? That's not a typo. The highest-rate incarceration black community has a rate over 40 times higher than the highest-rate white community. So there's deep persistence, deep inequality by crime, by incarceration, by child health; that much is clear.

You might say, well, look, things have changed; we just had an economic crisis. Gentrification has roiled neighborhoods in the '90s, 2000s, that's true, but the structure, the pecking order, if you will, is quite stable. This is a map or chart of concentrated disadvantaged, poverty, welfare assistance, female-headed families in 2000; the census data can't even be looked at yet because it averages it from 2005 to '09, but we were able to obtain housing vouchers from Chicago Housing Authority as an indicator of low-income residents. When we chart that out, again, strong persistence, and if anything, some communities that were already poor got worse, the ones you see up in the corner there to the upper right.

Well, this is Conference on Criminology; we're all familiar with the great crime decline. Doesn't that mean that things changed? Yes: Crime went down. Crime went down in New York; we hear about that. It went down in Chicago, went down in a lot of cities. But the change or the secular large-scale change is being superimposed on a relatively deep ecological structure. The red line is basically the rate of decline in violence in Chicago over the 10-year period 1995 to 2010, 15-year period, actually.

But if you look at the other side, the violence rate in 1995 and the violence rate in 2010, what you see is again another straight line, and you think, well, how can they both be true? Well, it's actually very simple. It's going, the line is going up or down; crime is increasing, decreasing, but most communities are falling on that line, meaning there is a relative stability to the crime rate in communities. And that's a powerful finding; I think it's relevant to practice. It's relevant to theory.

[End of video clip]

Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods

Sampson So let's move then to a discussion of the project, and let me just say at the outset that this is a large-scale project, it's a collaborative project, again, funded by MacArthur, National Institute of Justice, and later on, National Institute of Mental Health and many other foundations.

And I'll end by telling you where we're at with it, call it PHDCN for short, many collaborators with this in the early days and continuing — Tony Earls, Steve Raudenbush, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, and others should be acknowledged — and it's had many spinoffs, as you will see, which is an advantage, I think, to the funding of a project by an agency, because there are unintended consequences.

But we designed it in a very special way. The first was, if context is important, one must take seriously the measurement and study of that context. It's not just something that's another characteristic of the individual; it's a characteristic that needs its own scientific integrity as a unit of analysis. I'll say more about that.

So we did a multimethod longitudinal study of neighborhoods. You'll see some of the results of this. We did resident surveys, this is all original data collection, resident surveys, observations, I'll tell you what we did there, talked to leaders of organizations. We also used other data that existed, such as census data, crime records, and organizational records. These studies were carried out roughly from 1995 to 2002, and then there were some extensions as well.

The individual part, technically, it's accelerated longitudinal design, but that doesn't sound very nice, so let's just call it a suite of longitudinal cohort studies, multiple cohort studies. Starting from birth — we enrolled women when they were pregnant — or the kids were just born, 3-year-olds, 6-year-olds, 9, 12, 15, 18, followed them through time, each cohort followed through time.

Now, importantly, the cohort — and remember, we're starting with this idea of neighborhood is important, so we structured this multi — and again, I don't want to get in too much detail here, but it's relatively straightforward — it's a multistage sampling design whereby we first pick the neighborhoods, stratify those by the key characteristics — and you can see this, hopefully — black, white, Latino, and then mixed neighborhoods, black/white, black/Latino, and then low income, medium income, high income. And then we selected randomly within the strata the sample. So you can see these neighborhoods are distributed all over Chicago and, when weighted, represent the city. So our kids are representative of those growing up in the city of Chicago in 1995, and their families, and the neighborhoods are represented, and we studied the neighborhoods separately. Okay? So that's the design.

This shows you the diversity. We wanted to get it and we got it. It's a very diverse sample by race, ethnicity, particularly the three largest groups, and we also have, if you know, considerable diversity by immigration, lots of first and second generation — well, not a lot, but relatively enough power anyway to look at generational effects with regard to migration.

Now, this was a massive study and I have to give thanks to the staff that carried it out; at one point, we had about 150 people that we hired, trained, and that worked in Chicago in the West Loop for these seven years, and they did a yeoman's job carrying out this study. People were followed wherever they moved in the United States and Mexico and, in some cases, beyond. This just gives you an example of, it's really dark around Chicago because about 80% of the sample stayed in the Chicago area, so they covered the entire city, moved out to the suburbs, but they moved down the Mississippi to New York, some to Boston. I don't know if there's one up there in Minnesota; I think there are some. [Chuckles] So you might have some up there; who knows? California, Texas, Florida, and we tracked them down and traced them, so it's a true longitudinal study. I just wanted to give you a feel for that.

[End of video clip]

Collective Efficacy

Sampson One of the first concepts that we looked at was what you can think of as collective efficacy theory, and this in a sense is charted out here in this particular slide. Collective efficacy really tries to unite two concepts: first of all, a sense of cohesion or ties among residents. Now, now we're not talking about deep personal ties where you're having dinner with your neighbors every night, but a sense of working trust and acknowledgement of neighbors. And secondly, a sense of the expectations about control — that is, what people will do under certain conditions of challenge.

And shared expectations are crucial: When you're in any environment, the shared expectations for how you act is an important theoretical concept, and this goes back actually in the history of social thought. And we thought about this and carried it out with what we thought was a somewhat innovative way, was to use vignettes where we asked residents, how likely is it, for example, if kids were skipping school and hanging out on the corner, how likely is it residents would do something about it?

And that could range. It could range from intervening with the kids to calling the school to calling the police. So it's informal social control, but it can involve formal institutions; that's the key. It's that connection rather than doing nothing.

And cohesion and shared expectations for control are highly related to one another; they vary tremendously across neighborhoods. And it is related, as you might expect — collective efficacy, that is, the collectiveness part, the efficacy, the intentions to do something, it's undermined by concentrated disadvantage, neighborhoods that are turning over rapidly. It's importantly related to network ties and organizations. So we looked at, in a sense, the whole picture of what the causes of collective efficacy are, but also, what the influence of collective efficacy is on crime, and that's the — go to the purple arrow down to the right — we found collective efficacy related to violence, to other aspects of health.

So now, for a little bit of, just a little bit tougher work here, but I tried to make these as straightforward as possible: This shows you the association of collective efficacy and time with later homicide rates. What we did is to look at, using our multiple surveys, we did it two different points in time, 1995, 2002, and then we looked at the homicide rate after that, from '96-2000, and then after the 2002 survey, up to 2006, and this controls for a number of factors that are important in the literature, such as poverty, friend/kinship ties, prior homicide, too, so it's almost change in homicide. And the dark bars to the left are the lowest quartile in collective efficacy, lowest 25% distribution of neighborhoods, and the right is the highest quartile. And this difference, by the way, these are all homicide rates, about 16 to 4 to 10.4, it's about a 50% difference in homicide, so that's a, it's not only significant but it's substantively large.

Now, if you believe this model and you work out the math, it's something like about 150 fewer killings over the period of about five years associated with that change in collectively efficacy, net of the other characteristics.

What about change? Neighborhoods differ; maybe our controls didn't work so well. Another way to look at this is the change within a neighborhood over time. In this analysis, what I did was to take each year as a unit of analysis; that is, I calculated the homicide rate in '95, '96, '97, looked at it over time, then calculated the rate of change, whether it accelerated or decelerated. As we know, crime is going down.

So an interesting question one can ask is, is the neighborhood change, how the neighborhood is changing, is it related to the rate of decline or the rate of deceleration? And it is.

If you look at this chart, I think the easiest thing is to compare the blue and the red lines. The blue line shows the homicide trajectory from '96 to 2006, and those are basically communities where there were decreases in collective efficacy and increases in poverty. And basically, you see a pretty flat trajectory. Again, there was a secular decline in crime, but it was not going down as fast in those areas, whereas the red dashed line are areas with increases in collective efficacy and decreases in poverty, and you see a distinct and significant difference as this controls for other changes as well and I think provides a different way of looking at the matter.

I said a moment ago that it's not just the internal characteristics; this is not a story about, oh, there's a magic bullet out there, collective efficacy. This is just one factor. And this chart shows you the importance of the surrounding context.

So what we can do is to say a neighborhood has a certain poverty rate, a certain rate of collective efficacy, a certain rate of homicide, but what about the neighborhoods around them? Well, we can actually measure those and spatial statistics and spatial methodologies have come a long way.

So what we were able to do is to take all the neighborhoods into Chicago and look at the kind of the ripple effects of what does it mean for a community to be located in a high-risk environment, or next to other high crime rate neighborhoods? Does that have any independent effect? And it does; it has a large effect. This particular model, although it looks simple, there's only four bars, actually controls for a lot of the usual suspects out there in terms of racial composition and poverty, density, and so forth.

But what you see when you compare the two bars on the left with the two bars on the right, that's the effect of collective efficacy, and this is a standardized homicide rate. So what you can see basically is that these areas have higher homicide rates than these areas, that's the direct effect of collective efficacy, whereas this, even though a community may internally have high rates of collective efficacy, that's not enough, right? That's not necessarily a protective factor, because you can see that this area is surrounded by high-poverty, high-crime areas, and that has direct influence net of the internal characteristics. Similarly, the rate of over here, for high collective efficacy areas, you can see that when you're surrounded, the rate matters.

So it's saying that both characteristics matter. That means then that in thinking about policy, in thinking about theory, we really have to take the larger social structure into account. It's really a mediation of, well, individuals, neighborhoods, communities around the city, and even macro-level city policies. I'll come back to that, too.

[End of video clip]

Not Just a Chicago Story

Sampson There is some really interesting work going on now in Boston, and this is actually hot off the press. Anthony Braga, David Hureau, who's a student at Harvard, and others, have been working hard in collaboration with the police department to get data on shootings and crime and looking at hotspots, but the Boston Neighborhood Survey has replicated a key component of the PHDCN survey, carried out in the Harvard School of Public Health and a few other people involved in that.

And this is a map that shows the distribution of collective efficacy measured just the way I have been talking about it in Boston, and you'll note that there is tremendous variability in the city with regard to the distribution. The blue and yellow, basically, areas are the low collective efficacy on this map, in case you can't read the legend, and the sort of orangeish-red areas here are high.

So what you find, like you find in Stockholm, like you find in Chicago, and now we're finding in Brisbane, Australia, and Los Angeles and other cities around the world, is tremendous ecological variability. And although this analysis is still going on, I mean, I'm not giving you a final story here, when you put shootings in Boston over that, that's what you see, okay? Each triangle is a shooting in Boston, and it maps very closely.

Now, we could have an argument about causality and what's going on. I presented data to show that I think that there is a relationship; I actually think it's reciprocal and that's what our data shows. I just didn't have time to get into it; that is, collective efficacy reduces crime, crime reduces collective efficacy. There's a reciprocal ongoing relationship.

In this particular analysis, David has gone on to show that this relationship holds after controlling for concentrated poverty, the odds ratio is something like over three for poverty and about one and a half for collective efficacy, so the strong relationship for both factors.

But I just wanted to give you a feel for the idea that it's not just about Chicago.

[End of video clip]

The Importance of Culture

Sampson We can show that altruistic behavior, and this is a bit controversial because scientists argue about where altruism comes from — I argue that it's social in nature, it varies. And we can do this behaviorally, not just what people think.

And legal cynicism is another aspect of community; it's almost a cultural aspect that's important, as is what we call legal cynicism. People that have a corrosive attitude about the law — for example, we asked people, it's okay to get around the law if you can get away with it; we asked about police legitimacy, police can be trusted, police are fair, police work with residents. I think the chiefs will probably recognize that no matter what they do, that in certain communities, there's a distrust and this really is a challenge in terms of, it seems to me, practice.

And what we found, I'm just going to tell you the results, is that in areas with high legal cynicism, two things: One, those neighborhoods that are sort of flat and don't decrease or are persistently high violence, it's not just collective efficacy and poverty; a recent paper published by others shows that those sort of cycles of violence neighborhoods are very high in legal cynicism. There is something about the attitudes of the residents that's implicated.

And in a paper with Jeff Morenoff and Steve Raudenbush, we also showed that legal cynicism accounts for a significant share of the black-white gap in violence.

[End of video clip]

Systematic Social Observation

Sampson So I want to tell you quickly about a couple other aspects to the project. One is systematic social observation. We asked people what they think, collective efficacy, cynicism. What we can see and observe is also important. So we drove around in sport utility vehicles with cameras in the back and videotaped 22,000 street blocks in Chicago, and we coded disorder. Now, this, I could talk for an hour, I love this stuff, because broken windows, you all know about that; there's a lot of rich theoretical material here. Do broken windows cause crime? What is the effect of disorder? What is this picture? Here's an actual picture in Chicago. Is this disorder or is that art on the wall? Is that gang graffiti or are these kids? There's arguments that this kind of disorder affects crime, health, migration.

Well, we looked at this. To anticipate, I do think cues of disorder are important. But what we found is what's really more important are the perceptions that surround them more so than the actual, like, say, the number of bottles or the number of garbage or the amount of graffiti on the wall, is less important than the perceptions, and that's important because the perceptions are what really drive the change.

And in sort of a theoretical analysis, we looked at how individuals' position, actual disorder in a community, predicted perceived disorder, but what we found was that when you control for what you can actually see, the amount of disorder in an environment, that the characteristics of the population, for example, the concentration of immigrant groups, concentration of minority groups, predicted a greater perception of disorder, and that was true even for immigrant first-generation, second immigrant groups, and for whites, blacks, Latinos. In other words, everyone is affected by this.

And people who live in the same neighborhood, the same block group, they're having the same amount of disorder in that they have very differing interpretations. Some people think it's a problem; some people don't. That seems to me a real challenge to law enforcement because you can't assume then that there is a uniform response to disorder. It also means not that broken windows is unimportant, but that if you change that disorder, or if, let's say, you clean up that particular neighborhood, you may or may not get the difference you expect based on the context in which it occurs.

[End of video clip]

Organizations Matter

Sampson I want to touch on one other theme before closing, and that is organizations. So I've talked about disorder, I've talked about measuring what we can see, I've talked about the importance of residents and their cultures and their ties and their perceptions, but organizations, and of course law enforcement is an important organization, matter a lot.

And we have looked at these things through two lens. One is through what's known as the Collective Civic Participation Study, looked at the density of nonprofits; we've also looked at the cohesion of leadership networks, and I just want to show you a bit. In the Key Informant Study, we talked to educational leaders, business leaders, religious leaders, law enforcement including district commanders, neighborhood relation sergeants, community policing liaisons, political players, the aldermen, in community organizations. And we can look at the networks among these organizations and among the individuals, and various things come out of this.

So, for example, we can see how law enforcement is tied to other organizations. This one is portrayed such that the width of the arrow is in proportion to the number of contacts between those domains. And I have a lot to say about this, but I'll just note that there is some evidence that despite a lot of the research saying that churches and religious collaborations are important, that at least in Chicago, the connection between law and religion is relatively low, almost nonexistent; same with education. And this may be a problem, and we're still working on this analysis, and even community organizations.

So this gives us a different kind of information. And also, our data tell us that communities vary tremendously, not just in the number of organizations, but the cohesion of the ties among the residents. So of those types of organizations I just listed, the ties look like this. In some communities, you have a very dense web among leaders; not residents, leaders. And others, you have a lot of cliques and isolates, and these vary a lot and they actually predict the crime rate.

And finally, in terms of organizations, this is a picture I took in Roseland after a student was shot at Fenger High School, and it made the national news, a beating. And I was driving around doing some fieldwork and came across this protest, and it was really interesting to me. They were all black men protesting; I was talking with them. It was part of the, it was linked to a ceasefire, but it's an example of collective, not individual, collective behavior; this is a poor community, disadvantaged community, high crime. And they were taking advantage of the ability to organize and try to reduce violence in that community. And this is part of our story.

Now, what drives this? According to our data, a big piece of it has to do with the kinds of factors I just talked about in terms of the organizational ties among leaders in the community, but also the actual density. I mean, numbers matter; nonprofit organizations, especially given the devolution at the national level, nonprofit organizations are becoming increasingly important with regard to government services and I think working with the police.

[End of video clip]


Sampson So let me conclude then. As I said, this was a sort of experimental session with translational criminology and some of the implications. I think first of all, just very simple, persistence: enduring neighborhood effects, inequalities persistent despite change; we need to take this into account. It has multiple facets to it, and I think no policy can succeed without taking this into account.

Second, based on our methodology but also theory, social and cultural mechanisms matter, right? It's not just changes in material well-being, but we have factors, and these are not the only ones, such as collective efficacy, legal cynicism or norms of legitimacy, perceptions of disorder or what I think of as contextual cognition, right, cognition is dependent on context. This, I think, has to be taken into account.

Organizational imperative, a chapter on that, the importance of nonprofit organizations, the importance of interorganizational ties, a challenge I think is the potential disconnect from criminal justice institutions, not just the police, from certain groups but also from certain institutions, and in Chicago, the church. That may not be true in other cities. And leadership networks, cohesion is not the same thing as resident efficacy. And one other thing we found is that where there's high activity of residents, there's often a disconnect with the leaders themselves. So you can't assume that where there's a lot of leaders working on a problem, that the residents are actually onboard; in fact, it happens quite often like that.

And finally, this is not just a neighborhood story; it's beyond local community. There are vast social changes taking part in terms of immigration and increasing societal diversity. I showed you effects of being surrounded by other high-crime neighborhoods. So I want to make the pitch I think in our project, that these need to be taken into account as well.

Now, these findings and more, just thought I would show you, will be coming out this fall, University of Chicago Press, Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect, so the thesis is in a sense in the title, and for those of you who want more information, you can find it there. And I can also say one other things in terms of the legacy of the project, that we just got funding in part from the MacArthur Foundation to follow-up in 2011, 15 years after the study started a sample of the cohort of kids. So we're still moving on. Thank you.


[End of video clip]

Edward Davis

Edward Davis Good morning to everybody.

ALL Morning.

E. Davis I want to just start out by saying what a pleasure it is to be here in your company. I have followed many of you over my career, and the fact that I am where I am is strictly due to following the research and making sure that I knew exactly what was happening in the best practices that were out there, and you're responsible for getting that information to us.

Tragically, our field doesn't follow it as closely as we should, and I'm going to talk about that at the end of my presentation as to how we might be able to improve that. But I want to thank John for giving me the opportunity to be here and to talk about this tremendous study. I think Rob and his team did an incredible job in moving the field forward and improving our understanding of things like perception and trust and issues that we talk a lot about, but we don't really understand very well.

And so, this is information is actually helpful to what I do and how I do it, and that's really the crux of the importance of academic research. You couldn't imagine the medical profession operating without informed experiments, and that should not be the case in our business, either.

Now, I'm going to make a fast confession. This is not my tie. [Laughter] This tie and the fact that I keep touching my collar, I have no collar stays and I did not bring a tie. [Laughter] My friend John gave me a tie, thank you, John, [Laughter] and I still have problems with the collar stays. So if my collar goes up, my apologies to everybody. [Laughter]

Why do I tell you that story? Well, I thought to myself last night, how could you forget your tie and your collar stays? Are you an idiot? [Laughter] Do you disrespect the people who have come here? [Laughter] I want to make a good impression. Neither of those things are the case.

I reflected on my week last week. From Tuesday to Saturday, I had a police officer shot, I had the Bruins win the Stanley Cup, [Laughter] I had an Academy, thank you, I had an Academy graduation, and then I had the Bruins parade after the Stanley Cup. [Laughter] So to say the least, I had a busy week, and I forgot a couple of things.

I don't tell you that story because I'm boasting about the Bruins, because I remember many years ago when we couldn't win anything in Boston, and we used to hate the Yankees because they won everything. And now, we're in that same boat, so I understand people's sensitivity about it.

But I tell you that story because I want you to know that the fact that my colleagues don't pay attention as much as they should to the research is because they're caught up in that tumult of running police agencies. It makes it very, very difficult to sit back and reflect on scholarly research when they're batting the doors down with all of these exciting things that happen to us day in and day out.

But we've got to figure out a way to be better at that, and we need you to work closely with us on that with the kind of experimentation that Rob Sampson has outlined today.

So let me just talk about a few things. I've got four points to make and very short time to do it in. Collective efficacy is extremely important to us. It's the trust issue that we've all been working on, and from a very visceral standpoint as a police commissioner, I know that if we don't have trust with the community, people won't report crimes to us, they won't cooperate with us when crime occurs, and we can't do our fundamental job of prosecuting people and making sure that people are held accountable for the crimes that they commit.

But the reasons for that, for that lack of trust, and the reasons for those problems with people's cynicism with the criminal justice system, are rooted in exactly what we've been doing wrong over the last 20 years. I remember when I first came to Boston, I listened to people; I went out into the community and I talked to community members all over the place. And there were some areas that were very happy with the police, and there were some areas that were very angry with the police.

And I remember the very first time that I went to a community meeting in Roxbury, I was beaten up pretty badly. The people at the meeting were all parents or victims of, not only homicide victims, but victims of shootings and crime. And the perception was clear that they didn't trust the Boston Police to care about following up on those crimes. There were mothers that said, my son was shot and nobody every investigated it; nobody ever came to our house to talk to us; nobody ever did this and nobody ever did that. There were murder victims who had not been contacted after the homicide, the initial investigation, and they felt that a year later or two years later, nobody cared about the case.

And so, I knew that my work was cut out for me there. I also found out by going out into the enforcement units, and one in particular, the Mobile Operations Patrol, MOP we call it, Mobile Operations are the motorcycle guys. I happen to ride a motorcycle, so I go out on patrol with them and I talk to them about what they do. And I realized that in the Boston Police Department, MOP is one of the first units that they send into a troubled neighborhood. If there's a problem, an eruption of violence, a homicide that occurs or a shooting that occurs, MOP goes in.

So I talk to the guys on the street and I say do them, "What is it that you're doing there when you go in? What's your mission?" Well, they tell us, tell me that the mission is numbers. "We want a lot of violations written, we want to stop a lot of people, and we want to enforce the law and make sure that all the bad guys get taken off the street, a certainly understandable response to a surge of violence in a neighborhood."

But when you look at the people that get the law enforced against them, it's not the people that are actually shooting. They're too wise to our ways. They're not carrying guns in their cars; they know we're going to come in after an incident like that. They understand how to get underneath the radar when that enforcement happens.

But if the MOP unit has a message from the administration to increase enforcement, they literally increase it against the whole neighborhood. And people feel that.

One of the big things that were told to me at the community meeting that first time was, "We don't like Operation Rolling Thunder." Heavens, I can't imagine why you wouldn't like Operation Rolling Thunder. It's fine for people to hear that the police department is going to do Operation Rolling Thunder in a troubled neighborhood; it's not so fine to the people who live in the neighborhood. They're getting rolled over.

So I made it clear that there would be no more Operation Rolling Thunder. And I made it clear to the officers that we are not going in simply trying to increase enforcement across the board and rack up numbers, because that policy creates the numbers that Rob talked about, a 40-times increase in incarceration rates in neighborhoods where violence is occurring.

And the very neighborhoods that we should be lifting people up to help us and to engage us in that war against crime, we're alienating. We're alienating the very people that we need to work with us through our policies — well-intentioned policies, policies that we believe will help, but policies that don't take into effect this issue of collective efficacy.

One of the neighborhoods that you saw that had high levels of collective efficacy is Southie. Southie is a neighborhood in transition. It was a largely Irish neighborhood, famous because of the activities of a guy by the name of Whitey Bulger. Whitey Bulger is on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List right under Osama, who's no longer there, and a guy that is responsible or is being charged with 19 homicides.

But there was very little crime in Southie other than this organized criminal one-on-one that was going on. There were very few armed robberies, there were very few drug deals, there were very few things happening in the neighborhoods. As a matter of fact, the local law was that Whitey wouldn't let drug dealers set up in Southie. After the investigation, we found that was not true, that Whitey was actually profiting over the drug deals. It wasn't Whitey; it was the neighborhood. It was the collective efficacy of Irish immigrants who came to that community and made sure that certain things didn't happen in their neighborhood.

We see it now in East Boston. East Boston is largely Latino, many South American immigrants. The first-generation immigrants into our city keep those neighborhoods safe; those small enclaves of people who have joined together from a foreign country are not areas that are full of crime.

I had the same experience when I was in Lowell: Largely Cambodian community had immigrated to Lowell after the Khmer Rouge had run roughshod over the community in their native country.

And in spite of the fact that there were Khmer Rouge who immigrated with them, the good people and the bad people, if you will, from Cambodia, there was very little violence and crime in the first generation of people who moved to our country. But the second generation got to be a problem: They ganged up. They formed gangs to protect themselves against the American gangs that were there.

I've seen the same dynamic in Cape Verde, where the Cape Verdean officials have called us and said, "You are deporting people back to our country and they are bringing gang problems with them; we've never had gang problems on the island." So the first-generation Cape Verdean immigrants were not a problem; the second generation have been. And some of their children have been sent back; some of the children of the first generation have actually been sent back because of their connections with gangs. It's a dynamic that I've seen over and over again, and Rob's work plays that out. So we're very, very lucky to have this kind of information.

The relationship between crime and disorder is one issue that I find quite interesting in this study. First of all, it's brilliantly done, the way that they've measured crime and disorder here, to have a van drive around with video on it, and to be documenting each one of the potential problems that you see: broken glass, graffiti, the types of disorder that our offices are constantly working on, and being able to quantify that.

It's almost like you have a scientific process that establishes a mathematical equation to something that has only been felt before. We know neighborhoods that are full of disorder: When you drive into them, you can feel it. But I didn't think anyone would ever be able to say, this neighborhood has X and this neighborhood has Y. But I think Rob has done a tremendous job in establishing a process that would measure that.

And his findings are interesting to me. I think that generally, he's clearly correct in his assessment, but what do I tell my cops to do? What is it that I tell my officers that they should be concentrating on out there on the street?

We talked about collective efficacy. So in one neighborhood, which was described as the least organized neighborhood in our city, the Mattapan neighborhood, it was at the base of that swath of shootings that occurred right down the Blue Hill Avenue corridor in the city. That particular area is critical, and I put a captain in there that I knew was very good with the community. That captain actually did community organizing, grassroots community organizing, to increase our participation with the community and to increase the trust between police and the people who live there. And one of the ways that they did this, and this may go to the perception rather than the reality of things, because perception is where I deal all the time, but by being the front end for city services on these disorder issues, the police were seen as doing something other than just putting kids in jail, that they were good for something in the city.

And so, what we've been able to accomplish there is by increasing the cooperation among the police in the community, and pulling people together to work on problems like graffiti, to work on problems like storefronts, to work on problems like gangs congregating in certain areas, the police have been the front end. The people have been hesitant to talk about it; they've been afraid. So the police end up being the front end for city services. It's a very effective way to show that they can be more to the community than simply the people who put kids in jail.

I want to talk a bit about action research, applied research, the type of work that Rob does. And especially to the younger researchers out there who are trying to decide how to go here: My colleagues and I need your help. Many of us realize that, some don't, but all of us need your help.

This business doesn't work unless we understand exactly why crime occurs. And this kind of information that gives us hands-on real-time knowledge of what we should be doing and how we should be directing our officers will make a difference in the long run. It raises our profession, our occupation to a profession if we listen carefully, if we tie a stronger bond with the people who are in this room.

I encourage my colleagues to do that; there should be many more of them in this room watching this presentation and other presentations that will happen over the next two days.

Just an analogy: It's the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and even though I had the kind of week that I had this past week, I took time out to sit down and read this study and to prepare for this presentation and to understand what topics you were covering in the next couple of days.

It's the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. If you were a Civil War researcher today, how much would you give to be at Gettysburg, to be at Appomattox, to be at any of the battles that occurred in the Civil War?

That's exactly what's happening on the streets of our city today. We are engaged in criminal activity where lives are being lost. Your being there, your being present, can make all the difference, literally difference between life and death. If we do our jobs properly, that crime rate will continue to decrease and people's trust in the system will increase.

This past week, two things happened to me that I think are extremely important after four years of pushing these policies and making connections that I believe are stronger in Boston than what Rob had to say. The first one was one of our officers was approached by an individual in Mattapan who told him that Johnny Jones came into my neighborhood the last three nights and shot up my neighborhood; you've got to do something about him. That wouldn't have happened four years ago. He stood up, he told us what was going on; this was in the least organized, most troubled neighborhood in the city.

And the other thing is I talked to a guy from a salvage company the other day; I saw him cutting the steel grates off a business. And I said to him, what are you taking those off there for? He said, oh, man, it's happening all over the city; everybody is cutting these things down. Those are the kind of things that we have to look for. Thank you.


[End of video clip]

Michael Davis

Michael Davis All right. First of all, I'm in a precarious situation, going last. Okay, this is an experiment, so I'm going to try a little experiment. You've been sitting for a while. This is going to take 10 seconds or less. I want you to stand up, shake the hand of someone you don't know and sit down within 10 seconds, [Laughter] quick.

M. Davis Five, four, three, two, one.

M. Davis Thank you for that. If you don't remember what I say, you'll remember that exercise. [Laughter] There's a lot of — first of all, I want to talk about Ed Davis. Ed Davis, you should know, for those who don't, I'm sure all in this room do, he's one of most respected people in the business. I met him about a year and a half ago, and he's been a huge influence on me. So thanks, Ed, for that, being who you are for the younger chiefs. And you're my brother, by the way, so [Laughter] I'm just kidding.

I do have some thoughts about the future of policing, where we're at, and some of the things we need to focus on. I'm going to talk a little bit about community policing. It's been around for about 30-some years now. And I think it takes on several different iterations depending upon where it is you're looking at it to be instituted. I think if you have 10 different chiefs up here and ask them what community policing means in their particular jurisdictions, you'll get 10 different explanations of what that is, and I think it's part of that's intentional.

But I think there is something about community policing and the current iteration that's a bit limiting. I think it's still primarily transactional. I think it's primarily instituted in this kind of form: I come to you, I have a conversation about what you need, and I look to deliver on your expectations.

And what the researchers have told us about community and about collective efficacy and what really is the underpinnings of a thriving community is that's not enough, and we know that intuitively. One of the first things I realized as a young patrol officer in Minneapolis, and I came up through Minneapolis during the worst period of violence in the history of that city, is some of the questions I asked myself on some of these calls is why am I here? I mean, this is not what I signed up for. This is a kid trouble call; it's a loud music call. Why are people so dependent upon the police to solve every single issue?

And what I've learned over my short 19 years is that the informal social controls have atrophied so much in our communities that the only recourse is 911. That's the only recourse.

Okay, a little bit about Brooklyn Park: Brooklyn Park, by the way, is the second most diverse city in the state of Minnesota, next to our sister city, Brooklyn Center; the core city, Minneapolis-St. Paul, are third and fourth, respectively.

In talking about community policing, and the future of it, I think we need to lop off the word policing all together. I think the future of community policing is community building. I think it has nothing to do with police at all; I think we play our role, right? We have the monopoly on course of force; there are things that only we can do. But we're not the answer to all things.

In our city, in our small city of 80,000 people, we have about 70,000 calls for service a year. We have about 9,000 crimes. You add on 5,000 medicals, maybe 12,000 traffic stops, it's about 40,000 calls for service that have nothing to do with a reportable crime. That's a little bit, that's overdependence on the system.

The things we know, and much of my philosophy is based upon the work of Peter Block and John McKnight, who have really studied for almost 20 years the social fabric of communities, and what we know is that that, those relationships that bind us together, is the critical thing, the critical component of a community that is successful. And when those things don't exist, that community doesn't have a chance.

I mean, just think for a minute about what a thriving community looks like. People reminisce all the time about small town. In a small town, right, breakfast is an event. It's not about the steak and eggs, right? They have it every morning. It's about people coming together and having a conversation about their needs and about how they can come together to fulfill those needs.

So community building is something that focuses on not just the problems; we're good at that. Let's talk about the problems, talks about the problems. It focuses on the possibilities and it gets to those things through the art of conversation and the emphasis on relationships matter, the three things that community-building people like myself really focus on, the fact that within our communities, we are communities of abundance, that we have what we need within our community. The second thing is that you access those, that abundance through relationships, and lastly, it's not serendipity: you have to go out and actively seek to engage folks.

Okay, I'm making a little bit of a case here. There are two reasons why I believe that community building is the next generation of community policing. In fact, it's a whole new way of thinking all together. The first is the financial crisis, right? Even the most optimistic economist out there has all but a bleak forecast for local governments across this country. So to think that we can continue to put cops on the dots, it's not going to happen. Look at Camden, New Jersey; look at Newark. Look at cities across the nation who are, at a minimum, they're not filling vacancies, and at a maximum, they're laying people off. That's real, right?

So the sense that we can't, that we have to figure out a way to police better, I think is not going to hold up over time; 18,000 police departments in this country, 10 years from now, there won't be 18,000 police departments in this country. I can guarantee it; that's my prediction. We can't afford it. We're already looking at ways to regionalize our services, and that's going to continue.

Secondly, it's about the demographic shift in this country. I heard now that 2042 is a demographic tipping point that's going to occur. Now, what that means is a whole lot of cities become a lot more diverse really quickly. And there's one thing that reduction in crime does not correlate with, and that's a reduction in isolation and fear. And I would suggest that typical community policing strategies don't address that very well. Here's a typical community policing interaction. I'm Community Police Officer Mike Davis; I come to this block and I say, "Ma'am, sir, I'm Community Police Officer Mike Davis, I'm here to serve you, tell me what you need from the police department." Okay?

"Well, these kids walk down the middle of my street. And I just, I can't, my kids are afraid, I can't walk my dog, and I'm just afraid. What do you want me to do?" "Well, ma'am, I want you to call 911 and someone will respond to help you."

Okay, so they call 911, cops respond, not the same officer, because typically, community police units are insular, right, and the officers come and throw what typically is a Hispanic or black kid over the hood of a car, and of course, find nothing, because the majority of stops yield nothing.

And so, what have we accomplished through that? We feel good because we responded to the community concerns. But what have we truly accomplished? We've reinforced the isolation and fear of that resident, and by the way, we further reduce our credibility with the kids we've thrown over the hood.

That is not the future of policing and that's not what is going to address the issues of race. Police departments cannot hide behind the racial fear in communities anymore; it can't happen. We have to be leaders in the discussion about how to build community.

In the city of Brooklyn Park, we're starting that type of conversation. Back in 2009, I called a meeting. That's all I did. I called a meeting and I said, "Residents of the City of Brooklyn Park, come and talk about your future, end of story." Right? And we promoted it, we promoted it hard, but that was it: no guarantees, not more police, not more "what I'm going to do for you," not more of this transactional consumeristic mentality that we know fails. Four hundred people showed up on a Saturday morning, 400 people showed up on a Saturday morning in December to talk about the future.

And I've seen a lot of heroics, right? I've seen a lot of heroics in my time as police, as a police officer through chief, but one of the most beautiful things I saw that morning, because we set it up community café-style where people would sit around round tables and talk, is I observed people talking to people they would not normally be talking to about things they would not normally be talking about, and guess what? It was about the future of their community.

And so, to date, 700 people have weighed in to our future. And what that has taken the form of is a discussion about the possibilities, and now the emphasis on collective efficacy. I mean, I love to talk about systems, and systems have a role in this, to do their role, but we've got to put their role in perspective. Schools alone can't educate kids, doctors alone can't take care of our health, police alone can't assure our safety. And until we get out of that mindset, neighborhoods will not, the dots won't disappear; the stars won't shrink.

And lastly, I'll say this about abundance: There are naysayers, right? "You don't know, this community is so, it's so challenged, you don't understand; you don't understand." Well, I do understand. And I also understand that in the most challenged neighborhoods, the efficacy seems to be the lowest; that's the most opportunity.

I think the work that Jerry Sternin and the positive deviance is very profound, especially his work in Vietnam. And I'll just say this quickly because I think even though it was not in this country, it emphasizes the fact that abundance does exist within our communities. So in 1990, him, his son, his wife, went to Vietnam at the request of the government to talk about, or to deal with, the rampant malnutrition of rural children.

So they got there and they said, "Thanks for coming; you've got six months to make a difference and you're out. Okay?" So we studied all, looked at all the maps, all the empirical data, looked, and we said, "Okay, okay, the water supply is bad, there's poor sanitation, there is ignorance about nutrition, and there's rampant poverty," and he goes, "That's great. It's all TBU: it's all true but it's useless information for what I need to accomplish, absolutely useless."

And so, he set out, gathered a group of mothers, and they went out and weighed and measured each child, and they said, "With all the factors that exist here, all the challenges that exist here, are there kids that are thriving?" Absolutely there are kids that are thriving. What does that look like?

And so, he went into those homes and found out that the way in which those mothers were feeding their children and what they were feeding them was drastically different. To make a long story short, what he did was he found the formula, right? It was a new way of thinking that had to occur within that community: a new way of thinking about nutrition, a new way of thinking about how to feed your kids and what to feed them, but the important part of the story is that the answer was within, was within the community itself.

And there are two things that happen when the answer comes from within: It's a practical solution and it's very sustainable. Nothing I can do is either of those as a police chief. We can swoop in, make you feel good for five minutes, but that's not collective efficacy. That's me making you feel good for five minutes. And are you truly feeling good about your community? Are you feeling good that a cop's outside the door or on the corner?

Long story short with Jerry Sternin's story, started out with 14 villages, went to 65 villages, spread to 2.2 million people. See, I believe that even in the most challenged communities, if you do this kind of analysis, I think you'll find it, that abundance does exist if people were to focus on the possibilities. I believe that. And quite frankly, it's the only shot we've got. If we could focus on systems, I think we've got to align ourselves to be better, I think police have to think differently, and we are striving to do that as a profession.

I do believe the future is like what's happening and that's why it's so, it's great that Jim Bueermann is part of the NIJ because what he has done in Redlands as far as putting a criminologist on staff sitting at the command staff table is brilliant. But I think the future has to change, and I think it changes on the belief that what we have is sufficient, and enough, and that we've got to come together for a better tomorrow. Thank you.


[End of video clip]

Reuse or Repost This Video

Information generated by the National Institute of Justice is in the public domain. It may be reproduced, published or otherwise used without permission. Please cite NIJ as the source of the information by using the following words:

"The [insert the name of your organization] gratefully acknowledges the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, for allowing us to reproduce, in part or in whole, the video [insert title]. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this video are those of the speaker(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice."

Copy Embed Code

Copy and paste the code in the box below to embed this videos, using YouTube, into your site or blog:

  • Playlist of the complete eleven-part panel "Translational Criminology and the Science of Community"
  • Segment 1: Welcome and Introduction, John H. Laub
  • Segment 2: Lessons from Chicago and Beyond, Robert J. Sampson
  • Segment 3: Robert J. Sampson, Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods
    • Segment 4: Collective Efficacy (07:32)
    • Segment 5: Not Just a Chicago Story (02:31)
    • Segment 6: The Importance of Culture (01:43)
    • Segment 7: Systematic Social Observation (02:36)
    • Segment 8: Organizations Matter (03:33)
    • Segment 9: Conclusion (02:55)
  • Segment 10: Edward Davis (16:58)
  • Segment 11: Michael Davis (13:32)

U.S. Department of Justice Disclaimer

The content presented in these videos is not intended to create, does not create, and may not be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by any party in any matter civil or criminal.

Opinions or points of view expressed in these videos represent those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Any products and manufacturers discussed in these videos are presented for informational purposes only and do not constitute product approval or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Justice.

See additional Legal Policies and Disclaimers for all U.S. Department of Justice Web content.

NIJ Conference
Plenary Panel
June 2011

The Monday panel examined the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, along with its implications for thinking about community capacity and crime.

Research shows that healthy communities share basic values: neighbors look out for one another and social connections are strong. A groundbreaking study from one of the largest research projects funded by the National Institute of Justice — the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods — produced important understandings about community well-being and the relationship between neighborhoods and crime. The panelists on this plenary session discussed the Project as well as drew from their own experiences to describe how (the) research affects their diverse and changing communities.

Moderator: John H. Laub, Director, National Institute of Justice

  • Edward Davis, Police Commissioner, Boston Police Department
  • Michael Davis, Chief of Police, Brooklyn Park Police Department, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
  • Robert Sampson, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences, Harvard University

NIJ Multimedia Page | NIJ Home Page

Date created: December 2, 2011