Multi-Agency Collaborations and Youth Homicide: The Origins and Potential Effectiveness of Gang Task Forces

Julie Barrows
Christopher Uggen, University of Minnesota

Gang task forces are multi-agency collaborations focused on prevention, intervention, or suppression of gang activity. This paper attempts to explain why some jurisdictions organize such task forces while others do not. We hypothesize that jurisdictions with higher rates of youth gang homicide are more likely to participate in a gang task force. We then attempt to determine the effectiveness of such gang task forces in curbing gang crime. Using data collected in the National Youth Gang Intervention and Suppression Survey (Spergel and Curry, 1992) as well as the UCR's Supplementary Homicide Reports 1976-1998 (Fox, 2000), we find that cities with high youth gang homicide rates are most likely to form task forces. We find some evidence suggesting that such multi-agency collaborations may engender a marginal short-term reduction in youth gang homicides. Our lagged dependent variable regression analysis comparing cities with and without task forces, however, failed to detect any statistically significant differences in rates of youth gang homicide.

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Updated 05/20/2006