This case study is part of the Reimagining Public Safety Impact Updates Resource, which highlights successful programs in cities, towns and villages across the country. View the Reimagining Public Safety Initiative to learn more about NLC’s work in creating safe, equitable communities for all. This is one of four municipalities illustrating Group Violence Intervention, which engages individuals on an interpersonal level to impede continued group violence – with the goal of reducing gun violence and improving community safety.

Boston, MA (pop. 675,647): Operation Ceasefire 

Operation Ceasefire launched in 1996 as a citywide strategy to address juvenile and gang violence, with an emphasis on addressing gun violence. Predating the GVI terminology, Operation Ceasefire was the first program of its kind and was associated with a 63 percent reduction in youth homicide victimization.

City GVI Programs are Associated With Substantial Reductions in Violence


Source: NLC analysis of GVI program outcomes. Boston Operation Ceasefire Source: Braga, et al. “Problem-Oriented Policing, Deterrence, and Youth Violence: An Evaluation of Boston’s Operation Ceasefire.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 38(3), August 2001.

In the evaluation of Operation Ceasefire, the program was hailed as the “Boston Miracle” for the reduction in monthly youth homicides over the program’s duration (1996 to 2000) as well as a 32 percent decrease in the monthly number of citywide shots-fired calls for service, a 25 percent decrease in gun assaults per month, and a 44 percent decline in monthly gun assaults for youth in a high-risk district. 

The violence prevention movement in Boston got its start almost 10 years before the implementation of that strategy. For years, grassroots efforts laid the foundations for Ceasefire to be successful. Between 1982 and 1994, 13 independent violence prevention and intervention programs and efforts were implemented in the city’s most violent communities. In 1994, the Boston Police Department received a National Institute of Justice grant of $311,500 to develop and evaluate a problem-oriented police intervention strategy, which would later become Operation Ceasefire. Between late 1996 and 1998, the Department of Justice awarded the Boston Police Department over $8.6 million in community policing grant funds, primarily for the hiring and redeployment of officers. Moreover, the Black activist clergy coalition involved in the project acquired about $10 million over the course of the 1990s from state and federal agencies as well as private funders to support Ceasefire’s community investment and social service provision strategy.

While Ceasefire’s intervention strategy was associated with significant reductions of violence, the program’s conclusion in 2000 correlated to an uptick in violence in the years immediately after. Boston’s resurgence of gang violence, particularly for city youth, was associated with an increase in shootings from 162 shootings in 2000 to 377 in 2006 (133 percent over six years).

In 2023, Mayor Michelle Wu announced a citywide goal of reducing homicides by 20 percent over three years, using strategies that are partnership-based, community-engaged, evidence-informed, data-driven, and humanity-centered.

In 2024, Boston is one of the safest large cities in the United States, according to Isaac Yablo, Boston’s Senior Advisor for Community Safety. Through renewed investments in Boston’s CVI ecosystem (coupled with high-level, intelligence-led precision policing), Boston saw significant reductions in shootings in 2023: total shooting incidents are at the lowest number since the Boston Police Region Intelligence Center (BRIC) began tracking incidents in 2005.

2023 compared to 2022

  • Total shooting victims decreased by 36 (20%)
  • Fatal shooting victims decreased by 6 (19%)
  • Non-Fatal shooting victims decreased by 30 (20%)

Key performance metrics include:

  • Yearly homicide rates and trends
  • Reductions in non-fatal serious gun violence

Acknowledgements for contributions and review from Isaac Yablo, Senior Advisor for Community Safety, City of Boston.

View the full Reimagining Public Safety Case Study Collection

Learn more about what different cities have done to support public safety, including qualitative and quantitative measures highlighting the impact of community responder models, group violence interventions, hospital-based violence interventions and community violence interventions.