On the validity and reliability of gang homicide: A comparison of disparate sources

Scott Decker, David C. Pyrooz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


One of the vexing problems of criminology is the search for valid and reliable measures of offending and victimization. Gang research has been plagued by similar concerns. This article provides an assessment of the reliability and validity of measures of gang homicide using police and survey reports collected from different sources over five annual points in time (2002-2006). Given public and political claims about the role of gangs in crime, assessing the validity of such measures is of critical importance to research and policy. Using data gathered from Uniform Crime Reports, Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR), and National Gang Center (NGC), the results indicated that gang homicide data were found to meet tests of reliability and validity. Supplementary analyses, however, revealed that the specialized measurement system (NGC) outperformed the generalized measurement system (SHR). The results provide strong support for the use of NGC measures of gang homicide, but not SHR measures of gang homicide, in cross-sectional and time-series research. We conclude by offering suggestions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-376
Number of pages18
JournalHomicide Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 22 2010


  • gangs
  • homicide
  • multitrait-multimethod
  • policy
  • reliability
  • validity
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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