Micro Places – Bichler et al. (2013)

Study Reference:

Bichler, G., Schmerler, K., & Enriquez, J. (2013). Curbing nuisance motels: an evaluation of police as place regulators. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management36(2), 437-462.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Micro places, Focused, Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study examined the crime reduction benefits of a problem-oriented policing project that used regulatory policy to foster responsible place management among operators of nuisance motels in Chula Vista, California. Specifically, the police launched a three-stage intervention. They first reached out to motel owners and provided information and assistance regarding problems on their properties; second, they started code enforcement and facility inspection; finally, they developed a permit-to-operate ordinance in 2006 and granted licenses only to properties that met safety standards.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The study evaluated the intervention by comparing the pre- and post-levels of calls-for-service per room among budget motels located in the study area, a comparison zone that included high crime facilities not in Chula Vista, and a displacement/diffusion region. The overall project evaluation compared 2004-2005 and 2008-2009, while the pre- and post-ordinance evaluation compared 2005-2006 and 2007-2008 to disentangle the effect of the ordinance.

What were the key findings?

During the course of the project, Part I and Part II crimes at the city’s motels went down by 70%. While each part of the Chula Vista motel initiative produced positive impacts on crime and disorder, results suggest that the permit-to-operate ordinance exhibited the strongest impact on crime and disorder and produced demonstrable changes in property management. These benefits were not negated by crime displacement.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggest that ends-based regulatory policy (i.e., the permit-to-operate ordinance) offers law enforcement an alternative to conventional crime control strategies. Responsibility for crime prevention can be shifted to place managers to reduce the incidences of crime and disorder.

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