Gang-related violence is a major public health problem. A gang prevention program (Operation PeaceWorks) was developed in Ventura County, California, to help trauma patients who were gang members quit gang lifestyles. The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of gang-related violence in the community before and after establishing Operation PeaceWorks.METHODS
In Operation PeaceWorks, participating gang members were mentored, counseled, offered job training, and provided with opportunities to further their education or secure employment. Data about gang-related activity in the community were identified and recorded. The number of gang-related assaults (total), assaults involving firearms, and homicides were determined and compared before and after the start of the program.RESULTS
During the 3 years after starting Operation PeaceWorks (2010–2012), the program had 3,430 interventions with 1,464 gang members (2.3 interventions per gang member). Three years after starting Operation PeaceWorks, there was a significant decrease in mean annual total gang assaults (−16%, p < 0.001), assaults with firearms (−32%, p < 0.001), and homicides (−47%, p = 0.05) compared with the 7 years before Operation PeaceWorks.CONCLUSION
A multidisciplinary community gang prevention program, with the participation of the trauma center, may be effective in decreasing gang-related trauma. The experience with this program may contribute to the development of further evidence-based programs to decrease gang-related trauma.LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
Epidemiologic study, level III. Therapeutic study, level IV.