1997-98 Academy Text Supplement

Chapter 16

Homicide: Its Impact and Consequences

Statistical Overview

Death Notification

Each year, thousands of loved ones of homicide victims receive the tragic notification of the death of their family member. All too often, this terrible news comes to the surviving victims in an insensitive manner. Surviving family members and significant others of homicide victims report horror stories of having received such notification over the telephone, on answering machines, or via broadcasts by the media -- rather than in person. Often, families are given confusing or inaccurate information.

Strategies for Reducing Homicide

In December of 1997, the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report entitled Strategies for Reducing Homicide: The Comprehensive Homicide Initiative in Richmond, California. In 1995, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) funded the Comprehensive Homicide Initiative to pilot the application of multifaceted strategies to reduce homicide. The strategies were based on recommendations from experts who attended a summit addressing murder convened in 1995 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. As a result of the summit, 39 recommendations were set forth, including developing community-wide strategies involving law enforcement, community, government, legislative, education, and training initiatives. In general, the recommendations called for greater cooperative problem-

solving among agencies, organizations, and the community to recognize the need for both short-term solutions and longer terms goals that address the root causes of violence. Two cities were selected by BJS to pilot the suggested homicide reduction strategies. This report provides findings from Richmond, California, the first city to fully reach the implementation stage. (Fyfe, Goldkamp, & White. (1997, December). Strategies for Reducing Homicide: The Comprehensive Homicide Initiative in Richmond, California, NCJ-168100. Washington, DC: Crime and Justice Research Institute, Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice.)

New Homicide Research

In December of 1997, the National Institute of Justice released a research report entitled Homicide in Eight U.S. Cities: Trends, Context, and Policy Implications. The report examined several factors that have been anecdotally or theoretically linked to violence and homicide. Eight cities that experienced dramatically different homicide trends between 1985-1994 were selected to participate in the study. Their total population was about four million, and represented eight percent of the nation's homicides during the study period.

The report cited trends that cut across all cities regardless of their rates of homicide. These included:

However, strong patterns did not emerge in many areas. For example, study respondents linked the availability of and quality of emergency medical services (EMS) to reductions in death rates, but researchers could not confirm these opinions with available data. Most importantly, the study showed that the nature of homicide differs across cities. The authors noted that this suggests a strong need for community responses that are local and based on data that reflect specific local trends. (Lattimore, et al. (1997, December). Homicide In Eight U.S. Cities: Trends, Context, and Policy Implications, An Intramural Research Project, NCJ-167262. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.)

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