Violence is surging; we need answers now

According to FBI data, homicides rose 29.4% in 2020 compared to the previous year – the largest single-year increase in decades. The agency recently reported that murders rose another 4.3% in 2021. Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for youth ages 1-19, eclipsing motor vehicle accidents, drug overdoses, and accidents. This violence is claiming lives, filling prisons, and undermining momentum for policing and other criminal justice reforms.

Policymakers, practitioners, and the public need answers now. The Center for the Study and Practice of Violence Reduction, aka the Violence Reduction Center (VRC) provides solutions by combining rigorous research with practical know-how.

With an emphasis on community violence perpetrated with firearms, the VRC gathers the most rigorous research, synthesizes it, and then makes it available to all, free of charge and in accessible, easy-to-use formats. In late 2023, the VRC will publish its flagship product – an online registry of anti-violence strategies supported by systematic reviews of experimental and quasi-experimental evidence.

The VRC also provides practical instruction to local, state, and federal leaders on how to choose, apply, and align the right combination of anti-violence strategies for their particular jurisdiction. In particular, the VRC offers a free, on-site, in-person practicum on partnership-based violence reduction that brings together local teams of law enforcement, community leaders, and service providers, among others, to be trained in the collaborative selection, implementation, and coordination of evidence-informed anti-violence strategies.

The mission of the VRC is simple: to save lives by stopping violence

We pursue this mission guided by three principles:

  1. Scientific Rigor. Leveraging academic expertise, the Center emphasizes strategies supported by strong scientific evidence of effectiveness.

  2. Real-World Relevance. Utilizing practitioner experience, the Center stresses the sound implementation of evidence-informed strategies in the real world.

  3. Independence. In order to provide guidance free from bias and conflicts of interest, the Center has no financial interest in any of anti-violence strategies it may recommend.

The VRC is part of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland. The department was established in 1969 and has been consistently ranked as the #1 criminology doctoral program in the United States (U.S. News and World Report, 2005, 2010, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022). Associate Research Professor Thomas Abt is the VRC’s Founding Director. Professor Rod Brunson provides the VRC with strategic guidance and assistance. Elliott Masouredis serves as program coordinator.

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