Groups – Fritsch et al. (1999) Saturated Patrol

Study Reference:

Fritsch, E. J., Caeti, T. J., & Taylor, R. W. (1999). Gang suppression through saturation patrol, aggressive curfew, and truancy enforcement: A quasi-experimental test of the Dallas anti-gang initiative. Crime and Delinquency, 45, 122-139.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Groups; General; Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; No evidence of effect

*This is one of two entries from this report. The other is "Groups - Fritsch et al. (1999) Aggressive Curfew"

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study evaluated an anti-gang initiative designed to reduce violence in Dallas. The focus here is on the implementation of saturation patrol. Targeted and control areas were selected because they had experienced a large amount of gang violence in the preceding year.

For a period of 1 year, teams of six to eight officers conducted high visibility patrols in the target areas, stopping and frisking suspected gang members or other suspicious persons observed, and making arrests when appropriate. These officers were freed from calls for service and instead spent their time implementing and carrying out the particular enforcement strategy.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The study used a quasi-experimental design with control areas and pre- and post-intervention measures of gang violence and offenses reported to the police. The impact of the initiative was assessed using data on offenses reported to the police during the year prior to and year during the intervention, as well as data from the Gang Unit on all gang-related offenses reported to the police for the same time period.

What were the key findings?

Undirected saturation patrol was not effective in decreasing the level of gang violence in target areas. Increased officer presence did not lead to decreases in reported offenses. Although it was hypothesized that freedom from responding to calls for service would lead to greater officer-initiated activity, which in turn would result in more arrests for drug and weapon offenses, the intervention did not significantly increase drug or weapon arrests.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

Simply adding more officers with no direction given is not effective in reducing gang crime.  The police instead should focus on the development of more effective strategies to address the crime problems that gangs create.

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