White, M. D., Fyfe, J. J., Campbell, S. P., & Goldkamp, J. S. (2003). The police role in preventing homicide: Considering the impact of problem-oriented policing on the prevalence of murder. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 40(2), 194–225.
Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:
Jurisdiction, Focused, Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective
What police practice or strategy was examined?
This study examines the Comprehensive Homicide Initiative, a pilot program aimed at reducing violence in Richmond, California. The Richmond Comprehensive Homicide Initiative was a collection of enforcement and nonenforcement problem-oriented strategies involving a variety of community-based initiatives (with elements of a community policing philosophy), providing a new sharper focus for some existing programs, as well as defining new practices and programs. The plan focused on specific problem areas highlighted in an earlier homicide analysis, including targeting outdoor-, gun-, drug-, and gang-related violence, as well as domestic violence, enhancement of investigative capabilities, and intervening in the lives of at-risk youth. The focus was on prevention of homicide, as opposed to a focus on solving homicides. For example, In July 1996, the RPD prepared and began distribution of How to Eliminate Drug Dealing, Drug Sales, and Public Nuisances, a guide to citizens in the fight against drug trafficking and drug houses in their neighborhoods. Another example was RPD’s partnership with the school district, which focused on developing positive interactions between police and children, as well as identifying truant youth at risk of engaging in more delinquent behaviors.
How was the intervention evaluated?
First, victim-, offender-, and incident-related characteristics of all homicides in Richmond from 1985 to 1998 were examined, broken down into three time periods (1985 to 1989, 1990 to 1994, and 1995 to 1998). Analyses focused on victim/offender relationships, location, gun and drug involvement, victim/offender prior criminal involvement, and victim/offender gang affiliation. Second, interrupted time series analysis (ARIMA) was employed to test the impact of the new policing strategy in Richmond. Third, monthly homicide data from 1985 to 1998 were collected for all other California cities with a population of 75,000 or more (n = 75), and ARIMA was employed to compare the nature and frequency of homicides in other California jurisdictions with Richmond’s experience.
What were the key findings?
Homicides in Richmond decreased significantly in January 1995, by more than one homicide per month. As a result, the changes in RPD’s strategy to responding to violence that began in 1992 and continued through implementation of the more formal Comprehensive Homicide Initiative appeared to bear fruit in the first month of 1995, suggesting that the impact was gradual in onset but long lasting in duration. ARIMA analyses showed that only 2 of 75 California cities tested had a pattern of homicides that matched Richmond’s, including the significant drop in murders in January 1995 (3 percent of cities tested).
What were the implications for law enforcement?
The findings from Richmond indicate that problem-oriented policing can affect levels of violence and crime, but the authors believe that successful implementation of a new philosophy is dependent on the formal and informal policies of the police leadership.
Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?