David Kennedy
Phone number

Swarthmore College, BA, 1980


David M. Kennedy is a professor of criminal justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and the director of the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay. Mr. Kennedy and the National Network support cities implementing strategic interventions to reduce violence, minimize arrest and incarceration, enhance police legitimacy, and strengthen relationships between law enforcement and communities. These interventions have been proven effective in a variety of settings, have amassed a robust evaluation record, and are widely employed nationally and internationally.

Mr. Kennedy was a principal in the Boston Gun Project in the mid-1990s, which pioneered a high-level action-research approach to public safety and the groundbreaking “Operation Ceasefire” homicide prevention strategy, and from which Kennedy developed the “focused deterrence” intervention framework. He has developed interventions focused on group and gang violence, individual violent offenders, intimate partner violence, street drug markets, opioid markets, prison safety, and other public safety issues.  He has worked with numerous cities and states, and with the federal government to design and implement the Treasury Department’s Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative and the Department of Justice’s Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative; Drug Market Intervention Program; and National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice.  He launched John Jay’s Institute for Innovation in Prosecution, now a stand-alone entity at the college. Mr. Kennedy’s work has won two Ford Foundation Innovations in Government awards, two Webber Seavey Awards from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and two Herman Goldstein Awards for Problem-Oriented Policing. He was awarded the 2011 Hatfield Scholar Award for scholarship in the public interest.

He is the author of Don’t Shoot, One Man, a Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City AmericaDeterrence 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 group and gang violence, drug markets, domestic violence, firearms trafficking, deterrence theory, crime prevention, police/community relations, and other public safety issues, as well as on action-research methodology. The monograph A Framework for Addressing Violence and Serious Crime: Focused Deterrence, Legitimacy, and Prevention, co-authored with Anthony Braga, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2021.



Scholarly Work

Braga, Anthony A., and David M. Kennedy. A Framework for Addressing Violence and Serious Crime: Focused Deterrence, Legitimacy, and Prevention. Cambridge University Press, 2021.

Kennedy, David M. "Direct Communication in Focused Deterrence." The Rowman & Littlefield Handbook of Policing, Communication, and Society (2021): 313.

Kennedy, David M. "State Violence, Legitimacy, and the Path to True Public Safety," Niskanen Center, July 8, 2020. https://www.niskanencenter.org/state-violence-legitimacy-and-the-path-to-true-public-safety/

Kennedy, D., & Ben-Menachem, J. (2019). “Moving Toward an American Police–Community Reconciliation Framework,” in T. Lave & E. Miller (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Policing in the United States (Cambridge Law Handbooks, pp. 563-580). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108354721.029

Kennedy, David. “Advocate: Policing and the Lessons of Focused Deterrence,” in Police Innovation: Contrasting perspectives, edited by David Weisburd and Anthony Braga, 205-226. Cambridge University Press.  2019

Kennedy, David M. "Response to “What works with gangs: A breakthrough,” Criminology & Public Policy 18, no. 1 (2019).

“What Cops Need to Do If They Want the Public’s Trust.” Oprah Magazine (May 2017).

“Beyond deterrence: Strategies of focus and fairness.” Handbook of Crime Prevention and Community Safety (March 27, 2017). Eds. Nick Tilley and Aiden Sidebottom. UK: Routledge.

Kennedy, David M. "On Changing How Police View Arrest." Criminology & Pub. Pol'y 16 (2017): 403.

"Community crime prevention." Advancing Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy (2016). Eds. Blomberg, T. G., Brancale, J. M., Beaver, K. M., & Bales, W. D. New York: Routledge.

“Chicago should be commended for police reforms, not dissed.” Crain's Chicago Business (May 20, 2016).

“Warping Time and Space: What it Really Takes to do Action Research in Crime Control.” Envisioning Criminology: Researchers on Research as a Process of Discovery (2015). Eds. Michael D. Maltz and Stephen. K Rice. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

Drug Market Intervention: An Implementation Guide (2015). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

“Black communities: overpoliced for petty crimes, ignored for major ones.” Los Angeles Times op-ed (April 10, 2015).

“What you think about dangerous neighborhoods is wrong” [Review of the book Ghettoside]. Washington Post (February 19, 2015).

David Kennedy. “Violence and street groups: Gangs, groups, and violence.” In The Causes and Consequences of Group Violence. Edited by James Hawdon, John Ryan and Marc Lucht. New York: Lexington, 2014

Custom Notifications: Individualized Communication in the Group Violence Intervention (2014). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

“Resetting Race.” Race and Social Problems: Restructuring Inequality (2014). Eds. R. Bangs and L. E. Davis. New York: Springer.

Getting Beyond Ferguson.” Huffington Post. (November 20, 2014).

“Don’t give up, Chattanooga’s anti-violence strategy will work.” Chattanooga Times Free Press (November 9, 2014).

The Story Behind the Nation's Falling Body Count.” Huffington Post (January 1, 2014).

Group Violence Intervention: An Implementation Guide (2013). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

“Getting beyond stop-and-frisk: Another tactic has been far more critical to making neighborhoods safer.” New York Daily News op-ed (July 15, 2013).

“Another kind of gun control.” Los Angeles Times op-ed (May 5, 2013).

Don’t Shoot (2011). Bloomsbury: New York.

Kennedy, David M. "Taking Criminology Seriously." Youth Gangs and Community Intervention: Research, Practice, and Evidence (2010): 206.

Kennedy, David M. "Gangs and public policy: Constructing and deconstructing gang databases." Criminology & Pub. Pol'y 8 (2009): 711.

Tillyer, Marie Skubak, and David M. Kennedy. "Locating focused deterrence approaches within a situational crime prevention framework." Crime Prevention and Community Safety 10, no. 2 (2008): 75-84.

Deterrence and Crime Prevention: Reconsidering the Prospect of Sanction (2008). Routledge: London.

Beyond 911: A New Era for Policing (1990). New York: Basic Books (with Malcolm K. Sparrow and Mark H. Moore).

“The Neighborhood War Zone.” Washington Post Outlook (August 13, 2006).

“Project Shows How to Muzzle Detroit’s Shootings.” Detroit News op-ed (February 9, 2006).

“Old Wine in New Bottles: Policing and the Lessons of Pulling Levers.” Eds. David Weisburd and Anthony A. Braga. Police Innovation: Contrasting Perspectives (2006). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

“Rethinking Law Enforcement Strategies to Prevent Domestic Violence” (2004). Networks 19(2-3). National Center for Victims of Crime.

“We Need Not Yield to Them.” Toronto Globe and Mail op-ed (August 18, 2003).

“Testing for Structural Breaks in the Evaluation of Programs.” Review of Economics and Statistics 85(3) (2003) (with Suzanne J. Cooper, Anne M. Piehl, and Anthony A. Braga).

 “Reducing Gang Violence in Boston.” In Responding to Gangs: Research and Evaluation (2002). Ed. Winifred Reed. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice (with Anthony A. Braga).

“We Can Make Boston Safe Again.” Boston Globe op-ed (July 15, 2002).

“Controlling Domestic Violence Offenders.” Paper prepared for the Hewlett-Family Violence Prevention Fund (April 2002).

“The Illegal Supply of Firearms.” Crime and Justice: A Review of Research 29 (2002) (with Anthony A. Braga, Philip J. Cook, and Mark H. Moore).

“New Approaches to the Strategic Prevention of Gang and Group-Involved Violence.” In Gangs in America (3rd ed.) (2002). Ed. C. Ronald Huff. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications (with Anthony A. Braga and George Tita).

“A Tale of One City: Reflections on the Boston Gun Project.” In Securing Our Children’s Future: New Approaches to Juvenile Justice and Youth Violence (2002). Ed. Gary S. Katzmann. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

Reducing Gun Violence: The Boston Gun Project’s Operation Ceasefire. National Institute of Justice Research Report (September, 2001).

  • “Developing and Implementing Operation Ceasefire” (with Anthony A. Braga and Anne M. Piehl).
  • “Measuring the Impact of Operation Ceasefire” (with Anthony A. Braga, Anne M. Piehl, and Elin J. Waring).


“Problem-Oriented Policing, Deterrence, and Youth Violence: An Evaluation of Boston’s Operation Ceasefire.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 38, no. 3 (August 2001) (with Anthony A. Braga, Elin J. Waring, and Anne M. Piehl).

“The Illicit Acquisition of Firearms by Youth and Juveniles.” Journal of Criminal Justice 29(5) (2001) (with Anthony A. Braga).

“Gun Shows and the Illegal Diversion of Firearms.” The Georgetown Public Policy Review 6(1) (Fall 2000) (with Anthony A. Braga).

“Problem Solving and Youth Violence: An Evaluation of the Boston Gun Project.” American Law and Economics Review 2(1) (Spring 2000) (with Anthony A. Braga and Anne M. Piehl).

“Youth Homicide in Boston: An Assessment of Supplementary Homicide Report Data.” Homicide Studies 3(4) (November 1999) (with Anthony A. Braga and Anne M. Piehl).

“Research for Problem Solving and the New Collaborations.” In Viewing Crime and Justice from a Collaborative Perspective: Plenary Papers of the 1998 Conference on Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation (1998).

“A LOOK AT . . . Reacting to Violence; But Boston Proves Something Can Be Done.” Washington Post op-ed (May 23, 1999).

“Homicide in Minneapolis: Research for Problem Solving,” Homicide Studies 2, no. 3 (August 1998) (with Anthony A. Braga).

“Pulling Levers: Getting Deterrence Right.” National Institute of Justice Journal (July 1998). Reprinted in The Modern Gang Reader (2nd ed.). Ed. Malcolm W. Klein, Cheryl L. Maxson, and Jody Miller. Los Angeles: Roxbury Press (2000).

“Pulling Levers: Chronic Offenders, High-Crime Settings, and a Theory of Prevention.” Valparaiso University Law Review 31(2) (Spring 1997).

“The (Un)Known Universe: Mapping Gangs and Gang Violence in Boston.” Crime Mapping and Crime Prevention. Ed. David L. Weisburd and J. Thomas McEwen. New York: Criminal Justice Press (1997) (with Anthony A. Braga and Anne M. Piehl).

“Neighborhood Revitalization: Lessons from Savannah and Baltimore.” National Institute of Justice Journal 231 (August 1996).

“Stopping Youth Violence With More Than a Shot In the Dark.” Boston Sunday Herald (June 30, 1996).

“Youth Violence in Boston: Gun Markets, Serious Youth Offenders, and a Use-Reduction Strategy.” Law and Contemporary Problems 59(1) (Winter 1996) (with Anthony A. Braga and Anne M. Piehl).

“Gun Buy-Backs: Where Do We Stand and Where Do We Go?” Under Fire: Gun Buy-Backs, Exchanges, and Amnesty Programs. Ed. Martha R. Plotkin. Washington, D.C.: Police Executive Research Forum (1996) (with Anthony A. Braga and Anne M. Piehl).

“Underwriting the Risky Investment in Community Policing: What Social Science Should be Doing to Evaluate Community Policing.”  Justice System Journal 17(3) (1995) (with Mark H. Moore). Reprinted in Critical Issues in Policing: Contemporary Readings (4th ed.). Ed. Roger G. Dunham and Geoffrey P. Alpert, Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press (2001).

“Can We Keep Guns Away from Kids?” The American Prospect 18 (Summer 1994).

“Squeeze the Dealer.” New York Times op-ed (April 22, 1994).

“NYPD Clean.” New York Times op-ed (January 25, 1994) (with Mark H. Moore).

“Violence and the Cities: A New National Strategy.” Mayors' Leadership Caucus on Crime and Neighborhood Revitalization. Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (November 1993).

“When Good Cops Turn Rotten.” New York Times op-ed (November 1, 1993) (appeared under the names of Joseph P. Armao and Leslie U. Cornfeld).

“Guns and Youth: Disrupting the Market.” Paper presented at the 45th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology (October, 1993).

“Closing the Market: Controlling the Drug Trade in Tampa, Florida.” National Institute of Justice Program Focus (April, 1993).

“The Strategic Management of Police Resources.” Perspectives on Policing 14 (January 1993).

“Notes on Basic Place-Related Approaches to Violence Control and Neighborhood Revitalization.” Paper prepared for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (1993).

“Crime Control, City by City,” New York Times op-ed (December 18, 1992) (appeared under the names of Steve Goldsmith, Mayor of Indianapolis, Indiana, and Kurt Schmoke, Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland).


Research Summary

The Boston Gun Project/Operation Ceasefire was one of ten 1997 winners in the Ford Foundation’s Innovations in Government award program, and received the Herman Goldstein International Award for Problem Oriented Policing, the International Association of Chiefs of Police Webster Seavey Award, and the Person of the Year Award from Law Enforcement News.

High Point, North Carolina was the winner of the 2016 Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing for its Intimate Partner Violence Intervention.

High Point, North Carolina was one of seven 2007 winners in the Innovations in Government award program.

High Point, North Carolina was a 2006 finalist for the Herman Goldstein International Award for Problem Oriented Policing

Chief’s Award, High Point Police Department, High Point, North Carolina

Director’s Commendation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Letter of appreciation, Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers.

Statement of thanks, Vice President Al Gore, launch of the Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative, the White House, July 8, 1996.