Swarthmore College Department of

Peace & Conflict Studies Blog

David Kennedy ’80 to speak on violence prison and race

David Kennedy ’80, author of Don’t Shoot: One Man, a Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America, will give a public lecture, free and open to the public:

“From Swarthmore to the Streets: Learning to Understand and Undo America’s Worst Problems of Violence, Prison, and Race”

David KennedyWednesday, April 18th, 7 p.m., Science Center 101

A book signing will follow the talk —

Some of you might recall David Kennedy’s talk at Commencement last year, when the College awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. He is one of the country’s most well-known criminologists, credited with creating the “Boston Miracle,” through which gun violence among people under the age of 24 was reduced by 60 percent. He accomplished this by staging what was essentially a giant intervention, bringing together beat cops, gang members, families, and community members who all demanded with one voice that the violence stop. He has gone on to advise dozens of cities, both nationally and internationally, as well as senators, the Department of Justice, and Presidents Clinton and Bush. More complete biographical information follows.

Sponsored by the President’s Office, Communications Office, and the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility.


David Kennedy is changing the way cities police, dispense justice, and prevent crime. A criminologist, teacher and activist, David is an expert in gun violence, neighborhood revitalization, and deterrence theory. In the 1990s he directed the Boston Gun Project, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at reducing youth violence; and he implemented Operation Ceasefire, which resulted in a 60 percent reduction in violence among people under age 24. His work in that city came to be known as the “Boston Miracle.” He has since helped other cities successfully implement similar programs, and become an advisor to national and international leaders.

Don't Shoot bookDavid is the author of several books, including the most recent Don’t Shoot: One Man, a Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America, an autobiographical account of public policy. An earlier book, Deterrence and Crime Prevention: Reconsidering the Prospect of Sanction, was called “a landmark rethinking of public policy” and “a primer on 21st-century policing.” He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe and has published numerous case studies in policing and public policy.

David was profiled in The New Yorker and Newsweek and interviewed by NPR and 60 Minutes . He has won numerous awards including two Webber Seavey Awards from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, two Innovations in American Government Awards, a Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing, and the Hatfield Scholar Award for scholarship in the Public Interest.

David graduated from Swarthmore College in 1980 with high honors in philosophy and history. He worked as a case writer, lecturer and senior researcher in the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is currently the director of the Center for Crime Prevention at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and co-chair of the National Network for Safe Communities. In recognition of his creativity, innovation, and public service, Swarthmore awarded David an honorary Doctor of Laws in May 2011.