Individuals – Uchida & Swatt (2013) [Chronic Offender Component]

Study Reference:

Uchida, C. & Swatt, M. L. (2013). Operation LASER and the Effectiveness of Hotspot Patrol: A Panel Analysis. Police Quarterly, 16(3), 287-304.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Individuals; Focused; Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; No evidence of effect

*This is one of two entries from this report. The other is "Neighborhood - Uchida & Swatt (2013) [Chronic Location and Offender Components]"

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study evaluated the impact of Operation LASER (Los Angeles’ Strategic Extraction and Restoration program), a program conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department Newton Division to target gun violence. This operation has two components, and thus appears twice in the matrix. The focus of this entry is on the chronic offender component only, which was targeted at all reporting districts within the division. The centerpiece of the offender-based strategies involved the creation of a crime intelligence detail (CID), composed originally of two sworn officers and one crime analyst. The CID’s mission is to gather information from all available sources to produce proactive intelligence briefs called Chronic Offender Bulletins. The bulletin contains pertinent information on each individual, such as description, physical idiosyncrasies (tattoos), gang affiliation, prior crimes committed, parole or probation status, and locations of where the individual was stopped in or near Newton Division. The bulletins, which are updated every quarter, are accessible through the officers’ patrol car computers and are intended to assist officers in identifying crime trends and solving current investigations, and to give officers a tool for proactive police work.

How was the intervention evaluated?

LASER was assessed at the reporting district (RD) level using a panel design to investigate specific declines in gun crime for the first 10 months after the operation began. Experimental RDs were compared to control RDs from the other seven divisions. This study used data from all Part I and Part II incidents reported to the LAPD where a firearm was involved from January 2006 to June 2012.

What were the key findings?

When isolating the RDs that received only the chronic offender components, Operation LASER was associated with a 2% reduction in gun crime, but this result was not statistically significant.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors emphasize the fact that the chronic offender component of Operation LASER occurred in every reporting district, while other components of the intervention occurred only in high crime areas (and did show evidence of significant crime reductions). It is possible that the chronic offender intervention was effective when targeted at high-crime corridors, however, the authors could not examine this question as all high-crime corridors received multiple intervention components (see Neighborhood – Uchida & Swatt). Given that areas receiving both components of the intervention experienced significant reductions in crime suggests that some element of geographic focus may be an important component of the intervention’s success.

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