Crime Lab New York, Education Lab, Crime Lab Enhancing Public Safety

Becoming a Man

Becoming a Man (BAM) offers high school-aged boys weekly group sessions during the school day and uses behavioral science to help youth navigate the complex, high-stakes situations they are too often forced to face. In two randomized controlled trials, the Crime and Education Labs found that BAM cuts violent-crime arrests among youth in half and boosts the high school graduation rates of participants by nearly 20 percent.

Council on Criminal Justice

The Crime Lab is partnering with the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ) to launch an independent Task Force on Policing to identify the policies and practices most likely to reduce violent encounters between officers and the public and improve the fairness and effectiveness of American law enforcement. As part of our commitment to meaningful police reform and more equitable public safety, the Crime Lab is serving as the primary research partner for the Task Force, evaluating the empirical evidence that will guide the panel’s recommendations.

Chicago Integrated Response

The Crime Lab and the Health Lab are partnering with the City of Chicago, local service providers, and advocacy organizations, to improve emergency response services to individuals experiencing behavioral health crises and impacted families.

Choose to Change

Children’s Home & Aid and Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. created Choose to Change: Your Mind, Your Game to help fill the gap in services to youth who are disconnected from traditional institutions likely to provide social services. Choose to Change engages youth heavily impacted by violence and trauma by connecting them with intensive advocate and wraparound supports along with trauma-informed therapy to help them live safe and successful lives. The Crime Lab and Education Lab partnered with Choose to Change to rigorously evaluate the program’s impact on behavioral and academic outcomes through a randomized controlled trial.

Clearance Rates

In Chicago, the rate at which homicides and non-fatal shootings are solved, known as the “clearance rate,” is among the lowest of any major U.S. city. One challenge to clearing more cases is the vast amount of digital and video evidence that needs to be collected and analyzed for each      case. To address this technology gap, the Chicago Police Department and the Crime Lab collaborated to develop and evaluate new Area Technology Centers, which seek to provide detectives with better resources and high-quality digital evidence that’s critical to solving crimes and preparing cases for court.


The Dovetail Project supports Black fathers in Chicago at home and in their careers through soft skills training and work placement. The Crime Lab is conducting a randomized control trial of the Dovetail Project to determine whether participation in this program has an effect on their families, arrest rates, and long-term labor market outcomes.

Embedding Analysts to Support Analytic Work and Increase Agency Capacity

The Crime Lab and Education Lab provide pro bono technical assistance to government agencies and nonprofits  that do not have the capacity to meet all of their research and data needs.

Gun Violence in Chicago, 2016

In response to the 2016 surge in gun violence in Chicago, the Mayor’s Office asked the Crime Lab to produce a report that aimed to help policy makers, civic leaders, the media understand the factors that drove the increase in lethal violence in the city.

Gun Violence Reduction Dashboard

To support Chicago's violence reduction efforts, in the Spring of 2020 the Crime Lab built a Violence Reduction Dashboard for the City of Chicago. Managed by the Mayor's Office, the Dashboard disseminates, for the first time ever, real-time data on gun violence trends to city agencies and street outreach organizations in an automated, accessible format, improving their decision-making and social service resources deployment.          

Individualized Learning to Improve Outcomes for Youth in Juvenile Prisons

Youth who are at the most at-risk for violence involvement are also often failed by the traditional education system. The Education Lab has partnered with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice to test the effectiveness of an innovative, individualized virtual schooling program in juvenile correctional facilities.


The Juvenile Intervention and Support Center (JISC) is a facility designed to divert children from the justice system and support their development through in-house services and through referral to community-based services that are tailored to their specific needs. To help the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Family and Support Services, and the Chicago Police Department improve the JISC, the Crime Lab is bringing together data from multiple agencies to support the City to make informed, data-driven policy recommendations to the JISC and the juvenile justice system more broadly.

M3 Youth Tours

The Crime Lab is assisting the organization My Block, My Hood, My City (M3) with implementing the Youth-Led Tour initiative, in which youth from M3 bring Chicago police recruits on guided tours of their neighborhoods.

Mayor’s Mentoring Initiative

Since its creation in 2016, the Mayor’s Mentoring Initiative (MMI) has served young men and boys who are at-risk for homelessness, justice system involvement, and becoming a victim of crime. At the request of the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Family & Support Services, the Crime Lab has provided technical assistance in the design and implementation of the initiative, as well as data insights into who is served by MMI, and has created agency-specific reports for the  agencies funding the MMI.

Narcotics Arrest Diversion Program (NADP)

In 2016, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area partnered with the community healthcare provider Thresholds and the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Health Lab to design, test and scale the CPD Narcotics Arrest Diversion Program (NADP), a police-led drug deflection program that connects offenders to substance use treatment and releases them without charge. The Crime Lab and Health Lab are evaluating NADP’s effect on participants’ health and wellbeing, and criminal justice contact both as arrestees and victims.

Officer Wellness

The Crime Lab has partnered with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and experts from Harvard Medical School to launch a department-wide effort to provide  virtual, personalized mental health supports to officers The goal is to build a world-class system of offer mental health supports that can serve as a model not just for other police departments nationwide, but for community mental health providers as well.

One Summer Chicago PLUS

One Summer Chicago (OSC) provides jobs to thousands of youth as part of the city’s anti-violence strategy. A randomized controlled trial conducted by Education Lab and Poverty Lab affiliate and University of Michigan professor Sara Heller found that in 2012, OSC reduced violent-crime arrests among youth by 43 percent over 16 months.

Officer Support System

The Crime Lab is partnering with the Chicago Police Department to develop the Officer Support System, an early-intervention tool to monitor officer performance via administrative data and connect the officer to necessary supports. The goal is to identify officers in need of assistance early on and prevent incidents that might be harmful to the officer or the public.

Quiet Time

Quiet Time is a meditation-based intervention developed by the David Lynch Foundation. The Education Lab is partnering with the Foundation and Chicago Public Schools to test if Transcendental Meditation can reduce stress responses, decrease violence involvement, and improve educational outcomes among students.

RAPID Employment and Development Initiative (READI Chicago)

READI Chicago connects individuals at elevated risk of gun violence involvement with 18 months of paid transitional employment with regular engagement with behavioral science-informed supports, skill-building, and support services, plus an additional six months of follow-up case management and coaching. The Crime Lab is rigorously evaluating the program’s effectiveness in order to measure its impact on participants and providers.

Reducing Crime Through Environmental Design: The Impact of Street Lighting on Crime in New York City

Crime Lab partnered with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, Police Department, and Housing Authority to design a randomized controlled trial involving nearly 80 public housing developments across all five boroughs of the city. The Crime Lab found that street lighting in public areas such as walkways, parking lots, and basketball courts reduced outdoor nighttime crimes by approximately 36 percent once potential spatial spillovers are taken into account.

Situational Decision-Making (Sit-D)

In light of encouraging results of programs that address the cognitive challenges of interpreting high-stress situations, the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Chicago Police Department partnered to create Situational Decision-Making (Sit-D). Sit-D is a training for officers that combines decades of law enforcement experience with insights about human behavior under stress.

Strategic Decision Support Centers

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) launched Strategic Decision Support Centers (SDSCs) in 2017 to create localized crime reduction strategies through data and new management practices. This intervention helped district leaders improve day-to-day planning and more effectively deploy existing resources in the highest-risk areas with the use of civilian crime analysts and additional technology. CPD partnered with the Crime Lab to better understand the effect of the Strategic Decision Support Centers on crime and the community. The Crime Lab's evaluation of SDSCs is one piece of evidence in a recent NBER working paper documenting the effect of varying management practices in policing outcomes. The study shows that when SDSCs were first deployed in six of Chicago’s highest violence police districts, they caused a 21% decrease in shooting victimizations through the first three months after their adoption, with no detectable changes in arrest or other measures of enforcement harms like police use of force.

Storycatchers Theatre’s Changing Voices

The Education and Poverty Labs are evaluating the Storycatchers Theatre’s Changing Voices program, which helps recently incarcerated youth attain long-term employment and self-sustainability by engaging them in full-time work writing, producing, and performing original musical theatre inspired by their personal stories.

Tracing the Guns

In May of 2014, the Crime Lab provided analytic support to a Chicago Mayor’s Office report entitled Tracing the Guns, which mapped the flow of guns into Chicago, detailed the initial sources of guns recovered at crime scenes in Chicago, and compared Chicago to other major cities. The Crime Lab produced another report for the city in 2017.

Understanding Underground Gun Markets to Stem the Tide of Illegal Guns

Crime Lab researchers are conducting the most comprehensive study to date of underground (or illicit) gun markets to learn more about how individuals at elevated risk for violence obtain guns. This multi-city study—which includes research by Crime Lab affiliates from across the country—brings together interviews with incarcerated gun offenders, ethnographic fieldwork, social network analysis, and analysis of administrative data.

Work Force Allocation

In partnership with the Chicago Police Department, the Crime Lab brought together law enforcement workforce allocation experts and data scientists to create an optimal staffing model for the Bureau of Patrol. To learn more about the model, its considerations, and its implementation please visit this summary.

Youth Advocate Programs

Youth Advocate Program, Inc. (YAP) and the Crime and Education Labs are partnering to implement the first ever randomized controlled trial of YAP’s unique wraparound-advocacy services for youth to evaluate the program’s impact on youth academic and criminal behavioral outcomes.