Taylor, B., Koper, C. S., Woods, D. J. (2011). A randomized controlled trial of different policing strategies at hot spots of violent crime. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 7(2): 149-181.
Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:
Micro places, Focused, Highly Proactive, Very Rigorous; Effective
What police practice or strategy was examined?
This study examined the effectiveness of directed patrol and problem-oriented policing strategies at hot spots of violence crime in Jacksonville, Florida. This summary focuses on the problem-oriented policing intervention, which involved assigning teams of officers and crime analysts to do problem analysis and problem-solving interventions at selected hot spots. The most common POP strategies used included situational crime prevention measures, such as repairing fences, installing or improving lighting, and erecting road barriers. Officers commonly worked with business owners and rental property managers regarding security measures, business practices, and other forms of prevention and collaboration. Other activities fell into the realms of community organizing (e.g., conducting community surveys and other forms of citizen outreach), social services (e.g., improving recreational opportunities for youth), code enforcement, aesthetic community improvements (e.g., removing graffiti or cleaning up a park), and nuisance abatement. Overall, the POP officers implemented 283 discrete POP measures across the 22 locations.
How was the intervention evaluated?
The authors identified 83 hot spots of non-domestic (“street’) violence and randomly assigned them to one of three conditions: 40 control hot spots (usual levels of policing with no special intervention), 21 directed patrol hot spots, or 22 problem-oriented policing (POP) hot spots. Each of these three conditions was maintained for a 90-day period. Using incident reports and calls for service, the authors examined the impacts of the patrols and problem-solving interventions on total Part I violence, non-domestic Part I violence, and Part I property crimes in and around the hot spots during the 90-day intervention period and the 90 days following the intervention.
What were the key findings?
POP strategies were associated with a 33% drop in “street violence” (non-domestic violence) during the 90 days after the intervention. While not statistically significant, the authors observed that POP was associated with other non-trivial reductions in total violence and property crime during the post-intervention period. There were indications that the POP intervention may have displaced some violence to areas just outside the hot spots, but patterns in the data suggest this may have been due to the effects of POP on crime reporting by citizens in nearby areas (as opposed to a true displacement effect).
What were the implications for law enforcement?
The findings suggest that the implementation of POP can significantly reduce violent crime within violent hot spots. Further, the study suggested that POP can produce larger and more lasting crime reduction effects than using directed patrol alone at hot spots (see the separate Jacksonville study brief on directed patrol at hot spots).
Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?