Neighborhood – Bogliaccini et al. (2022)

Study Reference:

Bogliaccini, J. A., Pereira, D., Pereira, J. I., Giambruno, C., & Borba, I. (2022). Tackling Drug-Lords in a Nascent Market: Raids and Drug Crime in Uruguay. Criminal Justice Policy Review33(4), 351-372.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Neighborhood; Focused; Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Mixed effects

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study examined the impact of police raids on robbery and violent crime (sum of homicides, injuries, threats, and damages) over time in the seven neighborhoods with particularly high levels of drug and violent crime in Montevideo, Uruguay. Local drug markets in the neighborhoods were specifically targeted by the police raids. The operations aimed to reestablish law and order by enhancing state authority in areas under the control of drug-trafficking gangs, thus challenging the entrenched culture of illegality. The crackdowns, seeking to prevent the situation from escalating into an all-out drug war, concentrated on reducing the drug trade and associated criminal activity. Typically, the raids lasted only one day and were not repeated in the short term.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The current study analyzed police raids conducted in Montevideo from January 2017 to April 2019. The authors examined crime data from periods before and after the police crackdowns to determine whether there were any significant changes in crime trends following the raids using an interrupted time-series analysis. Furthermore, to examine whether changes in crime could be attributed  solely to the intervention, the authors selected control neighborhoods similar to treatment neighborhoods that did not experience police raids. This approach (i.e., syntethic control) helped ensure that the study's conclusions about the effectiveness of police raids were based on accurate comparisons.

What were the key findings?

Overall, the police raids had mixed effects. As for robberies, two neighborhoods showed significant decreases in trends post-treatment when compared to control neighborhoods. However, one neighborhood exhibited a significant increase in robbery trends post-treatment compared to its control neighborhood. The remaining four neighborhoods saw no significant changes in robbery trends. As for violent crimes, the raids did not have a significant impact on the trends in the treated neighborhoods relative to the control neighborhoods.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

This study suggests that police raids of short duration, such as one day, may not sufficiently impact crime rates. Furthermore, the effectiveness of crackdowns in altering drug-market conditions likely depends on not only the removal of drug dealers from the area but also the prevention of their rapid return. Sustained or complementary strategies might be necessary to ensure lasting effects on crime reduction and the disruption of drug-market activities.

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