Campus News - February 11, 2002
Researchers aim to reduce gun violence
Researchers at the UNM Institute for Social Research (ISR) are members of a
newly formed interagency workgroup focused on the gun violence problem in Bernalillo
The group, facilitated by the United States Attorney's Office and comprised
of local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies, was convened under the
National Institute of Justice's (NIJ) Strategic Approaches to Community Safety
SACSI is designed to foster collaborative problem solving and focused, research-driven
interventions. The SACSI research team is led by Dr. Paul Steele and Dr. Lisa
Broidy, criminologists and faculty in the UNM Sociology Department, in collaboration
with sociology graduate student Jerry Daday and undergraduate Teresa Schellhamer,
a statistics major.
The team received a $229, 000, two-year grant from NIJ to conduct research
that the workgroup can use to develop strategic interventions in response to
local gun violence.
The role of research in the SACSI model is unique. "Usually sociologists
are only called in to do evaluation at the last minute. It is very unusual for
us to be involved and give input from the start," Broidy said. "Our
goal is to provide data that will help influence the direction interventions
will take and to help monitor and fine tune those efforts." Dr. Steele
agrees, "as criminologists, we have always wanted to get at the table from
the beginning. This initiative has certainly given us the opportunity to do
During the last year, members of the research team have met with the various
agencies from the SACSI workgroup to collect data on violent crime incidents,
offenders and victims. Agencies include the Albuquerque Police Department, the
Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department, the District Attorney's Office, the
FBI, ATF, Pre-Trial Services, State and Federal Probation and Parole, DEA and
the Department of Public Safety. "These data are vital to the efforts of
the interagency workgroup as they collaborate to understand and target violent
crime within the county," Broidy says.
The research team collected and analyzed data for crimes that occurred in Bernalillo
County between 1996 and 2001. Using these data the research team has been able
to identify offender and victim characteristics, crime patterns, and the geographic
location of crime hotspots for serious crimes, such as homicide, aggravated
assault, domestic violence, and drug/narcotic incidents.
SACSI was first deployed to tackle various crimes in 1998 in five communities
-- New Haven, Ct., Winston-Salem, N.C., Memphis, Tenn., Indianapolis, In., and
Portland, Ore. In 2000, along with Albuquerque, four additional cities were
funded -- Rochester, N.Y., Detroit, Mi., Atlanta, Ga. and St. Louis, Mo. Cities
funded in the first round saw significant crime reduction.
The ISR is under the umbrella of the UNM Department of Sociology within the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2000, the ISR had 35 active research projects funded with approximately $3 million from state and national sources.
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