Micro Places – Kennedy et al. (2015) Colorado Springs

Study Reference:

Kennedy, L. W., Caplan, J. M., & Piza, E. L. (2015). A multi-jurisdictional test of risk terrain modeling and place-based evaluation of environmental risk-based patrol deployment strategies. Rutgers Center on Public Security, Newark, NJ.

See also:

Caplan, J.M. and Kennedy, L.W. (2016). Risk Terrain Modeling: Crime Prediction and Risk Reduction. (University of California Press).

Location in the Matrix and Methodological Rigor:

Micro places; Focused; Proactive; Rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

The quasi-experimental study evaluated police intervention strategies targeted at high-risk micro-level environments derived from risk terrain modeling (RTM) across 5 cities. Summarized here is the Colorado Springs, CO study, which focused on motor vehicle theft. The RTM yielded six significant risk factors associated with motor vehicle theft, among which locations with high concentrations of disorder calls for service was most prominent. In response, the Colorado Springs Police Department implemented an array of activities to mitigate disorder problems in the streets that intersected with the high-risk micro-level environments derived from RTM. These included code enforcement property inspections, community service officer neighborhood cleanups, community meetings, proactive enforcement against disorder offences, and others. The intervention lasted for three months.

How was the intervention evaluated?

Control street units were identified using a Two Nearest Neighbors propensity score matching technique. Matching variables included whether the street unit intersected a high-risk street unit or a high-risk cell as identified by the RTM analysis, whether the unit was a segment or an intersection, the concentrated social disadvantage and racial heterogeneity in the surrounding census block group, as well as pretest levels of crime and proactive police actions. Motor vehicle theft incidents during the three-month posttest period were compared to the figures during the same period from the previous year in the treatment and control areas.

What were the key findings?

On average, target-area street units experienced a 33% crime count reduction that was significantly greater than that experienced in the matched control units. An additional evaluation that disaggregates intervention activities found code enforcement to be the most effective strategy conducted at high-risk places. A slight diffusion of benefits was also found.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggest that CSPD’s risk-based intervention that prioritizes disorder incidents located at highest-risk places effectively addressed the problem of motor vehicle theft. Among the range of adopted risk reduction strategies, code enforcement focused on micro-level high-risk places was demonstrated to be the most effective.

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