Methods and Findings from the National Violent Death Reporting System for Identifying Gang-Like Homicides, 2005–2008
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Methods and Findings from the National Violent Death Reporting System for Identifying Gang-Like Homicides, 2005–2008

  • Published Date:

    2017 Winter

  • Source:
    J Natl Med Assoc. 109(4):272-278.
Filetype[PDF-183.06 KB]

  • Alternative Title:
    J Natl Med Assoc
  • Description:
    Background The National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) captures homicides that law enforcement or coroner/medical examiners deem as gang-related but the criteria used may vary across locations. Also, the existing gang-related variable likely underestimates the number of homicides that are associated with gang activity. This study utilizes NVDRS data to identify “gang-like” homicides which are not currently captured as “gang-related.” Methods A set of criteria recommended by a panel of experts in gang violence, was applied to homicides collected in the NVDRS. These criteria, termed “gang-like” characteristics, were developed in order to better identify homicides consistent with gang activity. The narratives of the identified cases were then reviewed to refine the operational standard. After the reviews were complete, the typology was modified to finalize the operationalization of “gang-like” homicides. Results A total of 481 gang-like homicides were identified using the “gang-like” criteria. This represents an increase of almost 69% over the 696 gang-related homicides captured in NVDRS dataset. Gang-like and gang-related homicides combined represented 6.6% of homicides that occurred from 2005 to 2008. Among the 16 states included in this analysis, Colorado (15.5%) and Oklahoma (14%) had the highest percentage of homicides that were either gang-related or gang-like. Maryland had the greatest relative increase (227.3%) between gang related and gang-like homicides. Conclusion The new “gang-like” variable complements the existing “gang-related” variable by providing an automated, standardized way to identify homicides that have circumstances consistent with gang activity. This new variable might be useful to states and localities seeking an efficient way to monitor homicides potentially resulting from gang activity. Additional efforts are needed to standardize the reporting of homicides associated with gang activity.
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