The National Institute of Justice, an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, has granted two Suffolk University professors $286,000 to evaluate the effectiveness of a gang-violence-reduction model in four Massachusetts cities.

Sociology Professor Erika Gebo and Public Service Professor Brenda J. Bond will compare crime statistics and stakeholder perceptions across four cities implementing the Comprehensive Gang Model, which identifies as a promising practice to reduce gang and youth violence. Two of those cities will engage in an organizational change intervention, and two control cities will not.

Worcester, Fall River, Lowell and New Bedford, the study locations, have been implementing the Comprehensive Gang Model since 2006 with the support of state funds. The Massachusetts effort has partnered researchers with community practitioners to examine gang problems using the Comprehensive Gang Model. Massachusetts was the first in the nation to take a statewide approach to the problem.

The Suffolk team will work with Brandeis University researchers and experts to implement a trial of relational coordination in two of the research sites. Relational coordination is a process showed to improve communication and coordination in fields including health care and the airline industry. This will be the first time this approach is tested within a community youth violence context.

Gebo, of Suffolk’s College of Arts & Sciences, and Bond, of the Sawyer Business School, have collaborated for seven years on the implementation of the Comprehensive Gang Model, which requires communities to collaborate to reduce crime and is nationally recognized as an effective program for reducing youth and gang violence. They are the co-editors of the book, Looking Beyond Suppression: Community Strategies to Reduce Gang Violence, and they have published several articles and book chapters on this issue. They are well known in these communities and nationally for their research on the Comprehensive Gang Model.