Jang, H., Lee, C.-B., & Hoover, L. T. (2012). Dallas’ disruption unit: efficacy of hot spots deployment. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management, 35(3), 593-614.
Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:
Neighborhood, General, Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Mixed findings
What police practice or strategy was examined?
This study examines the efficacy of the rotational deployment of ten to 12 hot spots patrol units to a broader “sector” area. Hot spots in Dallas were identified by DPD based on crime statistics, especially by violent crimes, as an effort to deploy such
resources as DU and tactical/gang units more effectively over the entire metropolitan jurisdiction. The Dallas Police Department Disruption Unit (DU) is a task force team consisting of 20 officers, three sergeants, and a lieutenant. The unit executed rotational saturation patrol to crime hot spots dispersed throughout the city. The unit deployed as a group with two officers per patrol car. The strategy involved numerous traffic stops, field interviews, issuing citations, and making arrests. The DU remained at a given hot spot (i.e. several street blocks) from two to four hours and then relocated to another area. Thus, on a typical shift, the unit patrolled two or three hot spots. Rather than a random rotation of the target sectors, the unit concentrated on given areas based on crime statistics recorded over the previous two weeks. The unit routinely deployed for ten-hour shifts Wednesday through Saturday, usually from 6:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. The unit was free of routine call-for-service activity.
How was the intervention evaluated?
The differential influence of police activities, including stops, citations, and arrests, were observed against a number of aggregate crime measures (i.e. violent, property, nuisance offenses, and total index crimes). The impact of police activities were observed for their immediate effects on crime as measured at the police sector level and lagged effects during the following week to measure residual deterrence effects.
What were the key findings?
The Disruption Unit’s hot spots policing immediately affected violent crimes, nuisance offenses, and total index crimes. Violent crime decreased by 9.4 percent, disorderly offenses decreased by 6.6 percent, and property crime by a marginal 1.5 percent, but only for the week the DU was present. There were no residual effects of hot spots policing. Among DU activities, the number of police stops was the most significant factor for the reduction in violent crime and nuisance offenses.
What were the implications for law enforcement?
The evaluation indicates that a rotational deployment scheme will reduce crime and disorder. This is the case even when the number of days of saturation deployment is small. These patrols, however, have little long-term impact on crime once resources are removed.
Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?