Neighborhood – Mazerolle et al. (2003) [Neighborhood Beat Model]

Study Reference:

Mazerolle, P., Adams, K., Budz, D., Cockerill, C., & Vance, M. (2003). On the beat: An evaluation of beat policing in Queensland. Brisbane, Australia: Crime and Misconduct Commission.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Neighborhood; General; Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective

*This is one of two entries from this report. The other is "Neighborhood - Mazerolle et al. (2003) [Shopfront Model]"

What police practice or strategy was examined?

The strategy examined was “beat policing”—a community policing strategy designed to make an individual police officer responsible for the community’s policing needs in a defined geographic area (the beat). Beat officers are encouraged to take ‘ownership’ of their area and employ proactive strategies to address the underlying causes of crime and community problems within their beat. This study examines two types of beat policing models: neighborhood and shopfront. For the neighborhood beat model (discussed here), a residential or nonresidential office is established in a small geographic area, staffed by police officers who take individual responsibility for that area. The focus of neighborhood beat officers is on implementing locally generated solutions to local problems within this defined geographical area. They do so by concentrating on monitoring calls for service, identifying and targeting problem areas and implementing solutions in cooperation with other agencies and the community. This is intended to instill a more “country” style of policing, characterized by personal interaction, community involvement, and proactive enforcement. Neighborhood beats are typically small enough for a single officer to patrol the area on foot, by motorcycle, or vehicle.

How was the intervention evaluated?

This evaluation is based on a detailed analysis of four neighborhood police beats. Three beats were matched with comparison locations that did not have the services of a beat officer based on various demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Differences in calls for service, reported crime (collected from the Crime Reporting Information System for Police – CRISP), activity reports, and interviews with police personnel, and other stakeholders, and surveys of key stakeholders (including community members, retailers, and shoppers) were compared between treatment and comparison beats. CRISP data often, but not exclusively, results from a call for service. The majority of analyses examined changes in outcomes measures from 12 months prior to the intervention to 12 months after the intervention was implemented.

What were the key findings?

Neighborhood beats experienced reductions in reported crime ranging from 3-43%. In two out of four beats, these reductions were statistically significant. By contrast, only one comparison beat experienced a reduction in reported crime (29%), and this reduction was not statistically significant. Differences between treatment and comparison beats were particularly large for property crime, where all treatment beats experienced decreases (ranging from 11-53%) despite substantial increases in comparison areas (upwards of 86%). Neighborhood beats also were associated with a decrease in chronic repeat calls for service, while comparison beats were not. Residents in neighborhood beats with high levels of crime and disorder also reported believing that these problems were improving.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggest that neighborhood beat policing is a worthwhile investment of police resources. These strategies may represent a cost-effective way to reduce crime and improve public satisfaction. However, focus needs to be placed on factors such as beat selection, management, training, and officer access to timely crime analysis information.

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