Individuals – Worrall & Gaines (2006)

Study Reference:

Worrall, J. L. & Gaines, L. K. (2006). The effect of police-probation partnerships on juvenile arrests. Journal of Criminal Justice, 34(6), 579-589.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Individuals; Focused; Reactive; Moderately rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This paper examined the deterrence effect of the San Bernardino, California Nightlight Program, a police-probation partnership that provided heightened supervision of juvenile probationers. Increased supervision included a home visit to every new probationer to provide a detailed explanation of the terms of the probation and to search the premises for weapons and contraband. The teams, which consisted of one probation officer and one police officer assigned to a district within the city, also conducted follow-up visits. In addition to supplemental supervision for probationers, the Nightlight teams were involved in some patrol activity and often responded to requests for assistance from police officers who encountered or stopped a juvenile.

How was the intervention evaluated?

An interrupted time series analysis was used to evaluate the program’s effects on city-wide arrest statistics comparing San Bernardino with three surrounding cities used as controls ( Colton, Highland, and Rialto). These comparison cities were ideal as they were served by the same probation agency, but without the added supervision that went along with Nightlight. The authors obtained monthly arrest totals for several juvenile arrests (felony robbery, assault, burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft; misdemeanor assault/battery, petty theft, marijuana, disturbing the peace, and vandalism; and curfew violations, a status offense) in each of four cities. These monthly totals covered the period from January 1992 to December 2002, resulting in 132 observations.

What were the key findings?

Operation Nightlight led to reductions in assault, burglary, and theft in the city of San Bernardino—as measured by juvenile arrests for these offenses. The program appears to have had no effect on juvenile arrests for the crimes of robbery, motor vehicle theft, misdemeanors or curfew violations. Operation Nightlight appears to have neither increased nor decreased juvenile arrests in the cities of Colton and Rialto. In Highland, however,there appears to be a reduction in burglary that coincided with the implementation of Nightlight. The results of the displacement / diffusion assessment were not conclusive.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggest that enhanced supervision partnerships can have a beneficial effect on reducing arrests for juveniles for specific types of serious crime. However, the authors caution that not all partnerships are created equally and should be tailored to best utilize the resources and relationships at its disposal to meet the needs of the area.

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