Direct communication with violent gang members about their behavior, coupled with effective suppression strategies and legitimate alternatives, serve as the foundation of Operation Ceasefire. To curb youth violence in the City, working groups comprised of key stakeholders–including the Boston Police Department, other law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, probation officers, and community members–meet biweekly as part of Operation Ceasefire. Referred to as a “pulling levers” approach, this strategy applies strong and targeted pressure to individuals involved in violent gang-related crime, while simultaneously offering alternatives to the gang lifestyle.
Gang members are often under court-imposed supervision, whether probation, parole, or youth services. Such supervision subjects these violent individuals to a wide range of court-imposed penalties, including curfews, area restrictions, probation surrenders, and enhanced prosecution efforts at both federal and state levels. Police and probation officers check on gang members at home to ensure compliance with the terms of probation; violations can result in a probation hearing and ultimately could return an individual to custody.
Operation Ceasefire uses “call ins” when a pattern emerges in which a particular gang engages in a series of violent activities. At a call in, gang members are called into court for a meeting with criminal justice professionals and community-based agencies. At the meeting, the BPD lets gang members know, we know who they are and what they are involved in, and that the Department will pursue aggressive law enforcement and enhanced prosecution if the violence persists. The Department also offers alternatives and services to gang members should they choose to straighten out their lives and end the violence. This carrot-and-stick approach requires considerable commitment by the local agencies to ensure that the youth receive viable alternatives to the gang lifestyle.