PROFESSOR AND STATE AGENCY EVALUATE
Under a 1996 revised city ordinance, the City of Chicago is able to hold multiunit property owners accountable for some of their tenants' criminal activities. James "Chip" Coldren, Jr., director of the UIC Center for Research in Law and Justice, and Daniel Higgins, senior research analyst for the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, recently concluded that a pilot program that teams Chicago police officers, prosecutors and building inspectors throughout the city is effective at lowering gang and drug-related activities in targeted buildings and their immediate surrounding areas.
Coldren and Higgins presented a summary of their findings and impact evaluations in a co-authored report entitled "Evaluating Gang and Drug House Abatement in Chicago." The study was conducted by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority on behalf of the Chicago Police Department. The report examined the effectiveness of an experimental component involving the placement of city prosecutors in the field to work with housing inspection teams. It was hoped that this would lead to more efficient prosecution of nuisance abatement cases and safer neighborhoods.
"I was hired as a consultant on the project," said Coldren. "Through my research and evaluation, I concluded there is evidence that introducing city prosecutors into the field operations resulted in a quicker access to better case information and a better understanding of neighborhood problems."
The evaluation involved an examination of the operations and implementation of the Municipal Drug and Gang House Enforcement Pilot Program in selected police districts and a comparison of those operations to the original plans and goals set for the program. Coldren, Higgins and other researchers interviewed 29 staff members associated with nuisance abatement operations and observed the program in operation. To measure the impact of the nuisance abatement program, Coldren and Higgins used incidents of gang and narcotic offences, violent and property crime indexes and criminal damage to property reports over 28 months covering a pre- and post-implementation time period.
According to their report, the program targeted 54 sites. "Data collected regarding the criminal activities at and around the buildings were analyzed to determine whether the program reduced criminal activity in targeted areas," said Coldren. "Since the process evaluation concluded that program implementation was successful, and the impact evaluation found evidence of program success, it is reasonable to make a connection between pilot project and positive outcomes," said Coldren.
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