Study Reference:

Pate, A. M., Skogan, W., Wycoff, M.A. & Sherman, L.W. (1985). Reducing the ‘Signs of Crime’: The Newark Experience. Washington, DC: Police Foundation.


Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Neighborhood, General, Proactive, Moderately Rigorous; Mixed findings


What police practice or strategy was examined?

A field test in Newark during 1983 and 1984 aimed to reduce the deterioration and disorder that represented the social and physical signs of crime. The program’s components were a cleanup program directed at physical deterioration and an intensified law enforcement effort. A group of 24 officers selected by precinct commanders engaged in the following operations: foot patrol to enforce laws and maintain order on sidewalks and street corners, radar checks to enforce speeding laws, bus checks to enforce ordinances and maintain order aboard public buses, enforcement of disorderly conduct laws to reduce the amount of loitering and disruptive behavior on corners and sidewalks, and road checks to identify drivers violating traffic laws or traveling in stolen automobiles. These operations were conducted at least three times per week, from Monday through Friday, based on a random assignment schedule to minimize their predictability. Altogether, the task force spent slightly over 2,500 hours in the program area where they conducted 188 different operations on 82 different days. Most of these hours (70%) were spent on foot patrol, about 15% were spent conducting radar checks, 7.5% were spent on bus checks, 4% on the enforcement of disorderly behavior laws and 3% on conducting road checks. The group of officers involved in the intervention received three days of training on the legal, tactical and community relations aspects of such operations. The second effort, directed at the reduction of physical disorder and deterioration, had two components: an intensification of city services and a revision of the juvenile judicial sentencing process to allow for community work to be performed in clean-up activities.


How was the intervention evaluated?

Six similar areas were selected, five of which were included in the overall Newark Fear Reduction Program and one for comparison. Random samples of residents were surveyed before and 10 months after the program’s introduction with response rates ranging from 76 to 83 percent. Tests for possible effects of the Newark effort to reduce the “signs of crime” were made at two levels of analysis: the area level and the individual level. At the area level, effects were examined by analysis of recorded crime data over time and by comparing the results of surveys before and after the introduction of the program in both the program and comparison area. At the individual level, effects were examined by comparing the results of surveys conducted with the same persons (a “panel”) before and after the program was implemented in both the program and comparison area.


What were the key findings?

Results from interrupted time series analyses of recorded crime data from the program area show that significant reductions occurred in the level of (1) total Part I crimes (2) personal crimes, and (3) burglary.   No significant changes were found in the comparison area. Residents of the program area, relative to those in the comparison area, were more likely, at a statistically significant level to have perceived an increase in physical deterioration of the neighborhood, and taken more precautions to protect their households against crime.


What were the implications for law enforcement?

The results suggest that foot patrol should be implemented on an intensive, continuous and predictable basis, rather than sporadically and at random, and in places and at times where it is most likely to be seen by the general public.


Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?

All studies in the Matrix on neighborhoods

Evidence on Zero-Tolerance Policing

CEBCP Page on Broken Windows Policing