Micro Places – Baker & Wolfer (2003)

Study Reference:

Baker, T.E., & Wolfer, L. (2003). The crime triangle: alcohol, drug use, and vandalism. Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, 4 (1), 47-61.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Micro places, Focused, Highly Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

The study examined the effectiveness of a police strategy combining community policing and problem-oriented policing. Police identified a local park as a crime hot spot and worked with the local community to address its problems. Specifically, after problems were identified in the park (primarily related to alcohol and illegal drugs use by young adults), the police initiated a series of responses including target hardening, proactive patrol, and offender-targeted interventions such as controlling the drinking and drug use in public and semipublic areas. Special attention was also directed to enforcing the new curfew law and victim-targeted interventions, such as organizing neighborhood watch, increasing communication between the police and citizens, and holding monthly meetings to discuss crime statistics and steps for improving the neighborhood.

How was the intervention evaluated?

A two-wave pre- and post-intervention survey was administrated (one prior to the intervention in 1996 and one 6 months after it was implemented in 1998). A quasi-experimental design was used to evaluate the intervention by comparing a random sample of people (N1=124; N2=125) who lived in the immediate vicinity of the local park to a random sample of people (N1=337; N2=333) who lived in the general borough but not near the park. Specifically, the authors evaluated the impact of this strategy on citizens’ direct victimization experiences.

What were the key findings?

Most respondents indicated a connection between drug/ alcohol use and vandalism and harassment. The target group experienced large declines in victimization that were caused primarily by decreases in vandalism and harassment from drunk and disorderly individuals. The control group also experienced decreases, which were less dramatic and non-significant.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

Problem-oriented policing combined with community policing has beneficial effects for targeted communities.

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