Jurisdiction – Factor (2019)

Study Reference:

Factor, R. (2019). A quasi-experiment testing a public participation process for designing and implementing an enforcement program among minorities. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 15, 77-86.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Jurisdictions; Focused; Proactive; Rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study examined the effect of an innovative public participation process for developing and implementing tailored traffic enforcement programs on traffic violations in two Israeli Arab communities. The public participation process involved six or seven meetings among diverse participants, including department managers of local councils, school headteachers, social workers, parent representatives, homemakers, religious leaders, and community police. During the meetings, participants identified seven to ten places in each community where troublesome traffic offenses or risky behaviors recur, called dark hot spots. In the dark hot spots of traffic offenses, the police then implemented an enforcement program by allocating one patrol car to each area for an average of half-an-hour to an hour, 3 to 4 days a week for 4.5 months.

How was the intervention evaluated?

Two Israeli Arab localities (one small locality and one mid-size locality) were randomly selected as the treatment areas, and two other matched Israeli Arab localities (one small locality and one mid-sized locality) were randomly selected as the control areas where enforcement continued in a “business-as-usual” manner. Through systematic social observation of vehicles in the four localities, the researchers measured traffic violations, such as driving without a seatbelt, not stopping for pedestrians in pedestrian crossings, ignoring stop signs, and speeding, as well as other characteristics of drivers and vehicles. They observed each locality during daylight hours for five pre-intervention days and five post-intervention days. About eight observation places were selected near public areas or potential road safety hazards in each locality, with the characteristics of the places being similar between the intervention and control localities (these were not the same as the dark spot enforcement areas). The researchers assessed differences in traffic behaviors before and after the intervention in the treatment and control localities while controlling for driver, vehicle, and passenger characteristics.

What were the key findings?

Significant and substantial reductions in traffic violations were noted in both treatment localities after the intervention, whereas small increases in traffic violations occurred in both control localities.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The study results indicate that a public participation process can help address crime-related problems in the community. Specifically, this study suggests that a public participation process focused on identifying crime and traffic problems in the community and applying tailored solutions based on citizens' opinions can positively impact drivers’ and passengers’ behaviors and decrease traffic violations.

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