Malm, A. E., & Tita, G. E. (2006). A spatial analysis of green teams: A tactical response to marijuana production in British Columbia. Policy Sciences, 39, 361-377.
Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:
Jurisdiction, Focused, Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective
What police practice or strategy was examined?
The study examined a multi-agency enforcement strategy that police and other agencies developed in response to increases in the growth and distribution of marijuana in British Columbia (BC). Some jurisdictions formed specialized tactical units known as “green teams” that focused solely on the enforcement of marijuana production. The green teams investigate all of the department files on marijuana growing operations. The process begins with public tips pertaining to marijuana production being forwarded to the unit. The integrated unit, made up of staff from police, community services, fire services, and electricity providers, then investigates the tips. The use of a partnership approach is built upon the premise that a dedicated, multi-agency team will better facilitate sharing of information and allow for more successful investigations. The teams also run publicity campaigns that educate citizens on the function of the green team, how to ‘‘spot a grow operation’’, and the hazards associated with this form of drug production. It is the multi-agency integration that serves as the primary difference between green teams and intensive drug squads.
How was the intervention evaluated?
The researchers examined how the implementation of the green teams impacted changes in marijuana production from 1997-2000 (the pre-intervention period) to 2001-2003 (the post-intervention period). They also examined trends in marijuana production in jurisdictions that did not use green teams.
What were the key findings?
Compared to the rate of increase in the period preceding green team implementation, the treatment jurisdictions experienced an 82% decline in marijuana cultivation. This decrease began within the first year of their introduction. Neighboring control areas without green teams experienced a 7% increase in grow operations during the same period. The authors also repeated the analysis excluding from the control group those neighboring jurisdictions that had a ‘‘drug squad’’ policy. They found that the impact of green teams was even greater when neighboring jurisdictions that took some form of a punitive, aggressive stance against drugs, in general, were excluded from the analysis.
What were the implications for law enforcement?
A focused, multi-agency approach can be effective in reducing marijuana production and achieve better results than standard enforcement approaches alone.
Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?