Mazerolle, P., Adams, K., Budz, D., Cockerill, C., & Vance, M. (2003). On the beat: An evaluation of beat policing in Queensland. Brisbane, Australia: Crime and Misconduct Commission.
Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:
Neighborhood, General, Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective
What police practice or strategy was examined?
The strategy examined was “beat policing”—a community policing strategy designed to make an individual police officer responsible for the community’s policing needs in a defined geographical area (the beat). Beat officers are encouraged to take ‘ownership’ of their area and employ proactive strategies to address the underlying causes of crime and community problems within their beat. There are two kinds of beat policing models: neighborhood and shopfront. Under the neighborhood beat model, a police officer resides within the beat area and operates from an office attached to their residence. The focus of neighborhood beat officers is on implementing locally generated solutions to local problems within this defined geographical area. They do so by concentrating on monitoring calls for service, identifying and targeting problem areas and implementing solutions in cooperation with other agencies and the community. Under the shopfront model, a police office is established in a shopping center or mall and provides services to retailers and shoppers in the center. Shopfront beat officers provide a visible police presence and opportunity for frequent interaction with shop owners and personnel, which allow them to gather timely and accurate information that can inform preventive and reactive responses.
How was the intervention evaluated?
This evaluation is based on a detailed analysis of six police beats: four neighborhood beats and two shopfronts. Three of the neighborhood beats and the two shop fronts were each matched with a comparison location that did not have the services of a beat officer. Differences in calls for service, reported crime (collected from the Crime Reporting Information System for Police – CRISP), activity reports, and interviews with police personnel, shopping center managers and other stakeholders, and surveys of key stakeholders (including community members, retailers, and shoppers) were compared between treatment and comparison beats. CRISP data often, but not exclusively, results from a call for service.
What were the key findings?
Neighborhood beats experienced a statistically significant reduction in the overall rate of reported crime, including property crime, compared to comparable beats. Neighborhood beats also were associated with a decrease in chronic repeat calls for service over a longer period but not a shorter period (12 months). Shopfronts are effective in raising awareness and visibility of police but do not appear to be associated with a decrease in the overall rate of reported crime, including reported property crime, within their area of responsibility.
What were the implications for law enforcement?
The authors argue that to give beat officers the ability to engage in proactive, intelligence-led policing, they need accurate and timely information, easily accessible through crime databases.
Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?