Micro Places – Buerger (1994)

Study Reference:

Buerger, M.E. (1994). Convincing the recalcitrant: Reexamining the Minneapolis RECAP experiment. Ph.D. dissertation. Newark, New Jersey: School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University.

See also:

Buerger, M. E. (ed.). (1994). The crime prevention handbook: Securing high crime locations. Washington DC: Crime Control Institute.

Sherman, L., Buerger M., & Gartin, P. (1989). Repeat call address policing: The Minneapolis RECAP Experiment. Washington, DC: Crime Control Institute.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Micro places; Focused; Highly Proactive; Very Rigorous; No evidence of an effect

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study examined the impact of the 1987 Minneapolis Repeat Call Address Policing (RECAP) Experiment. Initiated in 1986, RECAP assigned a team of 4 patrol officers and a sergeant to formulate and carry out strategies to address the underlying problems that produced repeat calls for service at 250 experimental addresses (125 commercial and 125 residential) in the city. Officers were instructed to conduct any tactics legally available to solve the problems at those addresses including disseminating information, persuasion, coercion, and limited law enforcement actions.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The study was evaluated with a randomized controlled trial in which 500 problem addresses (250 commercial and 250 residential) were randomly assigned to a treatment group that received the RECAP intervention or a control group that did not. Changes in 911 calls during the study period were then compared between the RECAP and control locations.

What were the key findings?

The intervention did not reduce calls at the experimental locations overall, nor did it reduce calls specifically at business or residential addresses. Statistically significant reductions were found only for residential addresses that received low levels of effort from the officers (i.e., less problematic locations).

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The author made several suggestions for stronger implementation of RECAP and similar programs. These included focusing on the most problematic “fever” spots, expanding information gathering tools, and, importantly, strengthening organizational support for these problem-solving efforts. The failures experienced in implementing some interventions were directly linked to a lack of organizational support.

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