In February 2021, National League of Cities (NLC) launched the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force made up of local leaders from across the country. The task force developed high-level recommendations for city leaders to help improve the ways in which they ensure the safety of all residents:

  • Direct municipal government leadership toward providing safety and well-being for all.
  • Balance the respective roles of government agencies, residents and partners.
  • Significantly expand the use of civilian-led and community-based well-being and prevention-focused strategies.
  • Embrace full and transparent oversight and accountability for law enforcement.
  • Seek guidance and support from peers and experts with the assistance of the National League of Cities.

NLC published the Reimagining Public Safety Toolkit in 2021 to provide many examples of local programs for city leaders to replicate, reference, and adapt as they implement the recommendations above.

To build upon the examples in the toolkit, NLC has revisited a sample of these initiatives to examine their impact (specifically centered in the first three bulleted recommendations above). Information was collected through review of public documents and evaluation reports and through interviews with key stakeholders. These updates focus on four key initiatives—the community responder model, group violence intervention, hospital-based violence intervention and community violence intervention—and provide qualitative and quantitative measures to highlight the level of impact they have on their given municipality.

Community Response Models

Community response models rely on trained, unarmed civilians to respond to calls for service and provide a more people-centered approach to crises of mental health, substance use disorder, homelessness, and more. As violent crime makes up a small share of calls for service in many cities, community responder programs can step in to address the growing need for mental health services in communities. Community response programs across the country – some of which are highlighted below – can be associated with more efficient and cost-effective responses when compared to police response. By focusing on de-escalation and providing behavioral health services, community responders can support those in need and save municipalities resources and time.

Community Responder Programs Dispatched to Service Calls Each Month

Bar graph describing community responder programs dispatched to service calls per 100,000 residents for Albuquerque (376), Denver (74), Eugene (777), and Minneapolis (172).
Source: NLC analysis of each city’s community responder program statistics, standardized by month and per 100,000 residents. Albuquerque ACS Source: Jodie Esquibel, Acting Director for ACS, City of Albuquerque. Denver STAR Source: Evan Thompkins, STAR Program Specialist. Eugene CAHOOTS Source: Eugene Police Department, “CAHOOTS.”  Minneapolis BCR Source: Taylor Crouch-Dodson, Director of External Affairs, Canopy Roots.
Notes: Dispatch rates are standardized to reflect the average number of responses to calls for service per month, including 911, 311, 242-COPS, mental health calls, or other calls for service by civilian responders within the program. Monthly service call response is then standardized per 100,000 city residents; population counts as of 2020 Census. Albuquerque Community Safety (ACS) reflects the historical monthly response rate from September 2021 to April 2024. Denver Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) reflects responses to monthly calls for service in 2022 and 2023. Eugene Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) reflects responses to monthly calls for service in 2021. Minneapolis Behavioral Crisis Response (BCR) reflects historical call responses per month, from December 2021 to February 2024.
eugene, OR

Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS)

Operating for 30-plus years, Eugene’s Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) program is a 24/7 mobile crisis response program that saves the city police $2.2M per year. In 2021, CAHOOTS diverted 3-8 percent of calls police would have responded to. 

Denver, co

Support Team Assisted Response (STAR)

Denver’s Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) program response costs four times less to respond to crises compared to police response. In 2020, Denver saw 1,400 fewer criminal offenses in neighborhoods with STAR service, which is 34 percent less than neighborhoods without STAR.


Albuquerque Community Safety (ACS) Department

Albuquerque Community Safety (ACS) Department, providing 24/7 community responder coverage, has received 68,000 calls for service in the first 2.5 years of the program. 

minneapolis, mn

Behavioral Crisis Response (BCR)

Minneapolis’ 24/7 Behavioral Crisis Response (BCR) funds two mobile units dispatched through 911 services. BCR has responded to 20,000 calls over 2+ years with zero injuries to service recipients.

Hospital-Based Violence Interventions

Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs (HVIPs) are operated by hospitals or community-based organizations to provide trauma-informed care for patients who have suffered a violent injury. After someone is admitted to a trauma center with a violent injury, highly trained staff members take advantage of this “golden window” where an individual is most likely to change behavior: highly trained staff members provide support services to survivors while also engaging survivors’ families and friends to prevent retaliation. These programs, in operation since 1994, have proven to reduce criminal involvement, arrests, and reinjury of victims. In turn, these reductions save communities millions of dollars per year in health care and incarceration costs.

HVIP Programs Demonstrate Low Rates of Rehospitalization and Reinjury for Participants

Four pie charts describing HVIP Programs demonstrate low rates of rehospitalization and reinjury for participants, ranging from 2-5% for each.
Source: NLC analysis of Hospital-Based Violence Intervention (HVIP) programs. Baltimore VIP Sources: Cooper C, Eslinger DM, Stolley PD. “Hospital-based violence intervention programs work.” J Trauma. 61(3), 2006; Karenna Warden. “Hospital-Based Intervention Programs Reduce Violence and Save Money.” Center for American Progress, August 2022. San Francisco WAP Sources: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Healing Communities in Crisis.” 2016; Smith R, Dobbins S, Evans A, Balhotra K, Dicker RA. “Hospital-based violence intervention: risk reduction resources that are essential for success.” J Trauma Acute Care Surg., 74(4), April 2013. Oakland CiC Sources: Youth Alive!, Healed People Heal People: Youth Alive! Annual Report, 2021-2022.”; Youth Alive!, “HomeTown Heroes: Youth Alive! Annual Report, 2022-2023.”
Notes: Baltimore Violence Intervention Program (VIP) rehospitalization rates reflect findings from a 2006 evaluation that used a randomized control trial of 100 patients admitted for violent injury from 1999-2001. San Francisco’s Wraparound Project (WAP) rehospitalization rates reflect 254 WAP participants from 2005-2011. Oakland’s Caught in the Crossfire (CiC) rates reflect rehospitalization rates for 265 victims served in 2021, and violent reinjury rates for 284 CiC clients in 2022.
oakland, ca

Youth ALIVE! Caught in the Crossfire (CiC)

Oakland’s Youth ALIVE! Caught in the Crossfire (CiC), launched in 1994, was the first HVIP. In 2021, 98 percent of clients were not rehospitalized for violent injuries, and in 2022, 96 percent of clients were not reinjured. Evaluation found CiC has saved hospitals $750,000-$1.5M per year. 

san francisco, ca

The Wraparound Project

The Wraparound Project, founded in 2005, saves the SF General Hospital an estimated $500,000 per year. Over its first six years, the program enrolled 254 clients and only 4.5 percent returned with a violent injury (down from a historical 16 percent reinjury rate).   

philadelphia, pa

Hospital-based Violence Intervention Program (HVIP) Coalition

In 2022, Philly’s HVIP launched in partnership with all six of the city’s Level One Trauma Centers. Since 2021, Philadelphia has had about 800 to 1,800 gunshot survivors per year. Those treated with HVIP services were three times less likely to be arrested for a violent crime, four times less likely to be convicted of that crime and two times less likely to be convicted of any crime. 

Baltimore, md

Violence Intervention Program (VIP)

A 2006 evaluation found only 5 percent of participating patients who received VIP intervention treatment were re-hospitalized, compared with 36 percent of nonparticipants. This led to estimated health care savings of $598,000. Participating patients were four times less likely to be convicted of a violent crime, saving the state approximately $1.25M in incarceration costs. 

Group Violence Intervention (GVI)

GVI programs, also called Group Violence Reduction Strategies (GVRS), draw on the framework of focused deterrence. By conducting call-in or call-out meetings and custom notifications, key program stakeholders engage individuals on an interpersonal level to impede continued violence. This strategy has the potential to reduce homicides, nonfatal shootings, revictimizations and re-offenses, but it also has the potential to benefit residents financially: on average, gun violence costs the US $557 billion each year. GVI programs can temper violence in cities, facilitate safer lives for residents and improve the livelihoods of individuals and groups at-risk of violence, all while mitigating the financial and emotional cost of gun violence in communities.

More Frequent Participant Engagement with GVI Program is Associated with Greater Reduction in Violence

bar graph describing the reduction in violence associated with more frequent participant engagement with GVI program (from 38.6% to 50.3%).
Source: NLC analysis of GVI program outcomes. Moyer, R. “An Evaluation of the Current Group Violence Intervention (GVI) Implementation in Philadelphia.” University of Pennsylvania, February 2023.
Notes: Philadelphia’s GVI program demonstrates the reduction in shootings for group-units engaging in the GVI program program (post-treatment) one to two times per week, comparing results to pre-treatment. Program evaluation took place January 2020 to May 2022, evaluating 113 group-units receiving GVI treatment.
louisville, ky

Gun Violence Intervention (GVI) Program

From 2020 to 2022, Louisville’s GVI program was associated with citywide decreases in homicides, nonfatal shootings, and total shooting victims. Only about 10 percent of GVI participants reoffended or were revictimized in 2023, and Louisville’s GVI program has helped prevent over 100 offenders from committing additional crimes. 

boston, ma

Operation Ceasefire

The first of its kind, Boston’s Operation Ceasefire launched in 1996 and was associated with a 63 percent reduction in youth homicides – earning the nickname the “Boston Miracle.” After the program ended in 2000, Boston shootings increased 133 percent over 6 years. In 2023, Boston reported significant reductions in shootings. 

baltimore, md

Group Violence Reduction Strategy  (GVRS)

Baltimore’s GVRS aims to be “transformational, not transactional” in its anti-violence approach. GVRS is associated with significant reductions in homicides, shootings, and carjackings in Baltimore’s Western District, without moving these crimes to other parts of the city. Participants enrolled in GVRS services demonstrate only a 3 percent recidivism rate and a 5 percent rate of revictimization.

philadelphia, pa

Group Violence Intervention (GVI) Program

The Philadelphia GVI program is associated with a 38.6 percent reduction in weekly shootings for groups who interacted with the program once a week. Those who participated in the GVI program two times per week were associated with 50.3 percent fewer weekly shootings.  

Community Violence Interventions (CVI)

Community violence intervention (CVI) programs focus on reducing homicides and shootings by establishing relationships with people at the center of gun violence in cities. These interventions take many forms but often include street outreach efforts and violence interruption facilitated by professionals with credibility in their communities (sometimes called change agents, credible messengers, outreach workers or violence interrupters).

READI Chicago Participants, Especially Those Referred by Community Outreach, Experienced Decreases in Violence

Shootings and homicide victimization decreased by 18% (All READI Participants) and 45% (READI Participants Referred to Program by Community Outreach), Arrests for shootings and homicides decreased 64% (All) and 79% (Community Outreach), and Arrests for other serious violence increased 13% (All), decreased 10% (Community Outreach).
Source: Heartland Alliance. “READI Chicago: A Community-Researcher Partnership to Reduce Gun Violence.” January 2023.
Notes: Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI) Chicago statistics reflect the results of a large-scale randomized control trial from researchers at the University of Chicago Crime Lab, the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab, the University of Michigan, and Cornell University. Almost 2,500 men in Chicago were identified as high risk of gun violence involvement using 3 referral mechanisms: a predictive algorithm, community outreach workers (shown in graph in blue), and staff from prisons and local jail. A lottery was used to determine READI program participation and researchers have evaluated the program outcomes for participants in the 20 months after being identified for the study. “Arrests: Other serious violence” includes sexual assault, robbery, non-shooting aggravated assault and battery.
chicago, il

Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI)

READI Chicago engages participants who are 45 times more likely than the average Chicagoan to experience gun violence. The READI program was associated with participants being 80 percent less likely to be arrested for a shooting or homicide. 

newark, nj

Community Street Team (NCST)

The Newark Community Street Team (NCST) employs an evidence-based, trauma informed violence reduction approach through holistic community engagement and violence intervention.  NCST deploys trained High-Risk interventionists, Outreach Workers, and Case Managers, also hosting over 37 monthly Public Safety Round tables since 2020 that have reached nearly 6,300 individuals in total. 

Baton Rouge, LA

Baton Rouge Community Street Team (BRCST)

The Baton Rouge Community Street Team (BRCST) operates in two zip codes with high rates of violence. BRCST deploys violence interrupters who mediate conflicts, while outreach workers connect at-risk individuals to social services. In 2022, BRCST led nearly 150 dispatches to respond to incidents and conducted 69 interventions to prevent retaliation after an incident.  

Learn More About Reimagining Public Safety

Browse more resources related to NLC’s work to create safe, equitable communities for all.

NLC Authors

Ian Grice, Program Specialist, Justice Initiatives Data; and Sarah Minster, Research Specialist.

NLC Acknowledgements

Maryam Ahmed, Senior Program Specialist, Justice Initiatives; Christy Baker-Smith, Director of Research; Meg Cohen, Program Director, Digital Engagement; Kirby Gaherty, Program Director, Justice Initiatives; Lina McVey, Web Manager; Karen Nava, Director, Visual Design; Derrick Thompson, Manager, Marketing & Communications, Municipal Practice; and Melissa Williams, Director, Marketing & Communications.

Review and contributions

Monica P. Bhatt, Senior Research Director, University of Chicago Crime Lab and Education Lab; Taylor Crouch-Dodson, MPD Director of External Affairs, Canopy Roots; Lakeesha Eure, Deputy Mayor, Public Safety, Newark; Jodie Esquibel, Acting Director for Albuquerque Community Safety, City of Albuquerque; Bernadette Hohl, Injury/Violence Prevention Research/Practitioner, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Christina Mancheno, Program Manager, Department of Public Health, City of Philadelphia; Maria Martín, STAR Community Services Director, Servicios de La Raza; Stefanie Mavronis, Director, Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (MONSE), City of Baltimore; Pilar Ocampo, MPH, Interim Injury Prevention Program Manager, Department of Public Health, City of Philadelphia; Sam Rabins, Associate Director of Criminal Justice Services, WellPower; Shane Simmons, Project Manager, Louisville Metro Government; Kimberly Smith, Director of Programs, University of Chicago Crime Lab and Education Lab; Deion Sumpter, MSW. Director of Group Violence Intervention, Office of Violence Prevention, Philadelphia; Sateria Tate, CSM, SSM. Executive Director, A.G.I.L.E. Planning Solutions; Evan Thompkins, Program Specialist, DPHE STAR; Stephanie Van Jacobs, STAR Program Manager, WellPower; Isaac Yablo, Senior Advisor for Community Safety, City of Boston.