How Agencies Can Conduct Their Own Experiments

An important part of evidence-based policing involves agencies learning how to evaluate their own crime prevention initiatives. Many of these efforts have involved using experimental and quasi-experimental designs, when possible, to establish more certainty in their results.

But how do agencies conduct their own experiments, and what are some challenges in doing so? Building on the experience of the Sacramento Police Department and Sgt. Renee Mitchell’s efforts, this demonstration provides a step by step guide on how agencies can conduct their own experimental evaluations. The guide not only includes information on the science of experiments (e.g. how to design an experiment, the statistical benefits of experiments, how and why randomly allocating units is useful), but also a discussion of the prospects and pitfalls for conducting experiments for police agencies.