Micro Places – Hegarty et al. (2014)

Study Reference:

Hegarty, T., Williams, L. S., Stanton, S., & Chernoff, W. (2014). Evidence-Based Policing at Work in Smaller Jurisdictions. Translational Criminology, Spring 2014 (6), Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Micro places; Focused and General; Proactive; Very Rigorous; Mixed findings

What police practice or strategy was examined?

Hot spots policing was examined in a non-urban jurisdiction (Riley County, KS) in which officers provided visibility only or a combination of visibility and certain proactive activities (described below). Hot spots were identified by selecting street-length segments that experienced a relatively high number of crime incidents over the previous 12 months.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The experiment was launched on October 2, 2012, and continued through December 31, 2012. The 48 hot spots were paired based on similar attributes. Within each pair, hot spots were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: “V” (officer visibility/presence only, the comparison group) or “VA” (officer visibility and activity, the treatment group). In the V hot spots, officers were instructed to visibly park in the area, remain there for 15 minutes, and refrain from any proactivity unless required in the line of duty. Officers assigned to the VA hot spots were instructed to park in a highly visible place, get out of the car, and proceed with activities including public contacts and order maintenance efforts (e.g., code enforcement, illegal parking, excessive noise, alcohol-related violations). The hot spots were divided into three groups of 16 (8 treatment and 8 comparison) according to the time of day in which the areas were “hottest.”

What were the key findings?

A statistically significant average decrease in crimes and calls for service across all hot spots occurred during the trial, compared with that of the three previous years. There was no statistically significant difference in Part I or II crimes between the V and the VA hot spots.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

With no statistically significant difference in Part I or II crimes between the V and the VA hot spots, the findings suggest that simply providing a visible presence for 15 minutes may be enough to create a deterrent effect regardless of other activities. The intervention reduced crime without any public perception of overly aggressive enforcement tactics, suggesting this tactic offers an option for police to reduce crime without jeopardizing their legitimacy.

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