Each month, the Office of Sponsored Programs will spotlight a different PI and their research. If you are interested in being featured in our next spotlight, please email  . Please be sure to provide us with an abstract (3-5 paragraphs) about your research, explanation of your recent project, the amount your project (s) were funded for, special events that you are hosting or coordinating, obstacles or challenges you faced during the application process, if applicable, and a photo of yourself .   

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David Kennedy,  Director, National Network for Safe Communities
The National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) works with cities to reduce violence, minimize arrest and incarceration, and increase trust between law enforcement and the public. NNSC invents and implements original solutions to important public safety problems in ways that achieve meaningful results, build on the strengths of criminal justice agencies and communities, are informed by shared values, and create new common ground among disparate parties. We have received recent, high-level support for our overall portfolio of work from the Pritzker Foundation in the amount of $2 million.

We are also working actively under grants from dozens of cities in the U.S.—and now internationally—to implement our Group Violence Intervention. The strategy’s focus on the street groups at highest risk for violence has shown serious impact in cities nationwide. For example, New Haven, Connecticut, saw a 73% monthly decline in shootings involving group members in a recent evaluation. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has provided continuing support for this work in Chicago in the amount of $1,200,000. A recent evaluation of Chicago’s implementation showed a 32% reduction in shooting victimization among those treated by the strategy.

A major part of the NNSC’s violence interventions is an offer of help to the people at highest risk. In recent years, we have been rethinking that offer of support to make it more effective. Under a $450,000 grant from the Langeloth Foundation, we are working with national partners in six pilot sites to build a special “support and outreach” structure tailored for the highest risk population. This includes measures to address trauma, protect group members from harm, and provide low-cost but pressing needs that are often not accounted for.

An overarching theme of our work is trust-building. Communities that don’t trust the police are less likely to report crime, ask for help from officials, and participate in community crime prevention. In many communities, that mistrust is deeply rooted in histories of racist and oppressive law enforcement. To improve trust, the NNSC has developed a police-community reconciliation process to apply at a citywide scale. The U.S. Department of Justice supports this work in the amount of $5.75 million through the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, as part of a pilot project in six cities that also offers training for law enforcement to enhance procedural justice and reduce implicit bias. A separate grant of $150,000 from the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services is supporting the production of a book about the reconciliation process.

As they look ahead, NNSC anticipates stronger partnerships with prosecutors’ offices to drive public safety and build trust. A $3 million grant from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office supports the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution (IIP), a project to reimagine the role of prosecutors nationwide. The IIP will give prosecutors transformative resources to reduce crime, address disparities in the system, and drive the change that we see unfolding in many quarters across the nation.

David Kennedy co-founded the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College. He is the author of Deterrence and Crime Prevention: Reconsidering the Prospect of Sanction, co-author of Beyond 911: A New Era for Policing, and a wide range of articles on gang violence, drug markets, domestic violence, firearms trafficking, deterrence theory, and other public safety issues. His latest book, Don’t Shoot, One Man, a Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America, was published by Bloomsbury in 2011.