Neighborhood – Mazerolle et al. (2003) [Shopfront 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; No Evidence of Effect

*This is one of two entries from this report. The other is "Neighborhood - Mazerolle et al. (2003) [Neighborhood Beat 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 geographical 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 shopfront model (discussed here), a police office is established in a community hub (e.g., shopping center, mall, central business area) and provides services to retailers and shoppers in the center. Shopfront beat officers provide a visible police presence and opportunity for frequent interaction with shop owners and personnel, which allow them to gather timely and accurate information that can inform preventive and reactive responses. Shopfronts are typically staffed by two officer teams that conduct foot patrol and problem-solving activities in the area.

How was the intervention evaluated?

This evaluation is based on a detailed analysis of two shopfront police beats. Both beats were matched with a comparison location 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, shopping center managers 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?

Both shopfront beats experienced increases in reported crime rates (ranging from 5-45%), though none of these changes were statistically significant. By contrast, one comparison beat experienced a nonsignificant decrease in reported crime (10%), while the second experienced a nonsignificant increase (4%). Similar trends were observed for reported property crime rates, where both shopfront beats experienced nonsignificant increases (ranging from 6-43%) and comparison beats experienced mixed but nonsignificant changes (ranging from a 6% decrease to a 4% increase). However, shopfronts were effective at raising awareness and visibility of police presence, as indicated by shopper surveys.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

Beat policing using the shopfront model may not be an effective crime deterrent, particularly when compared to neighborhood beat policing. As suggested by the authors, one explanation for these findings could relate to the nature of the shopfronts selected for analysis. These areas were large entertainment centers with many crime attracting features, and characterized by high density foot traffic. Shoppers in these centers may have also been more likely to report crime, given the increased awareness and visibility that resulted from the intervention.

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