Understanding and Responding to Gangs in the Caribbean

Project Dates: 
2005-present

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Since 2004, the Center has been deeply invested in diagnosing gang problems in the Caribbean as well as understanding the capacity of Caribbean governments to respond to gangs. Funding for the Center’s work has been funded by several organizations in the projects described below.

Reducing Violent Crime in Trinidad and Tobago. Over six years (2004-2010) the Center was engaged in a collaborative partnership with several universities for the purpose of reducing violent crime in Trinidad and Tobago, particularly homicides and assaults with firearms. The project was based on two primary strategies: using information and analysis to craft targeted interventions designed to reduce violence; and adopting collaborative approaches involving police, other government agencies, private, nonprofit, and faith-based organizations, and communities. The CVPCS role in the project was to diagnose the nation’s gang problem and work with the Ministry of National Security to implement organizational change in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Services (TTPS). Funding for the project was provided by the Ministry of National Security in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago through George Mason University.

Provision of Technical Assistance to the Organization of American States (OAS). From 2006 through present, the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety has provided technical support to the Organization of American States. These forms of assistance have varied from dissemination of information to diagnosing Caribbean gang problems.  For example, on behalf of the OAS the Center conducted a rapid gang assessment in Antigua and Barbuda to assist the nation in understanding their gang problem.

Inter-University Consortium for the Study Caribbean Gang Violence. ASU’s CVPCS, the University of the West Indies-Mona Campus, American University, and Sam Houston State University have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish the Inter-University Consortium for the Study of Caribbean Gang Violence. The purpose of the Consortium is to conduct rigorous research to understand the root causes of gangs and gang violence in the Caribbean.  The Consortium holds an annual symposium to disseminate research findings. 

Provision of Technical Assistance to the Regional Security System (RSS).  The research project is a collaborative effort between Arizona State University’s Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety and the Regional Security System (RSS). The Regional Security System (RSS) serves as the common defense system for seven Eastern Caribbean nations.  The project focuses on understanding the problem of criminal youth groups (CYG) in seven Caribbean nations.  It seeks to provide further information on the number of CYG’s, CYG members, and CYG crimes to: 1) accurately gauge the scope and nature of CYG problems (locally and regionally), 2) prioritize security concerns relative to CYG's, and 3) assess local and regional CYG trends for the purpose planning and resource allocation.

Caribbean Human Development Report on Citizen Security.  The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) sought to examine insecurity and violence among Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean. Through the report on Caribbean citizen security the UNDP will provide recommendations to nations on how to address crime and violence by nation and within the region.  The projects principal investigator and the lead author of the report is Anthony Harriott of the Institute of Criminal Justice and Security at University of the West Indies Mona Campus.  The Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety was responsible for leading Chapter 3 of the report on gangs and organized crime in the Caribbean. 

Trinidad and Tobago Violence Prevention Academy (TTVPA). The TTVPA was designed to train school-based personnel to develop comprehensive, integrated and evidence-based violence prevention plans tailored to the specific needs in 25 participating schools. Using a combination of face-to-face and online learning, the training program was designed to enhance the skills of school violence prevention specialists and the capacity of the schools where they worked to implement and sustain successful violence prevention programs.   The Academy was designed to serve the needs of the working professional.  The Academy was structured into four specific components including:  1) a training program, 2) the development of a school-based violence prevention plan, 3) implementation of each schools violence prevention plan, and 4) evaluation of the implementation of each schools project.

Research Staff

Charles M. Katz, Ph.D.

Andrew Fox, M.S.

Lidia E.Nuño, M.S.

David Choate, M.A.