Neighborhood – McGarrell et al. (1999)

Study Reference:

McGarrell, E. F., Giacomazzi, A. L., & Thurman, Q. C. (1999). Reducing disorder, fear, and crime in public housing: A case study of place-specific crime prevention. Justice Research and Policy1(2), 61-87.

See also

Giacomazzi, A. L. (1995). Community crime prevention, community policing, and public housing: An evaluation of a multi-level, collaborative drug-crime elimination program in Spokane, Washington. PhD Dissertation, Washington State University.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Neighborhood; Focused; Highly proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

The study evaluated a public housing drug-crime elimination program (Project ROAR), administered over the course of two years, involving inter-agency collaboration to empower tenants of public housing to enhance overall quality of life. Key elements of the program included problem-solving meetings among stakeholders in the neighborhood, developing a neighborhood improvement committee (comprised of tenants, social service agency staff, business owners, politicians, police, and housing authority), hiring a resident resource coordinator to liaise between residents and other program participants, coordinating crime prevention education programs, creating an ‘adopt the tenants program’ with local businesses, initiating physical target hardening and physical improvements in the neighborhood, and opening a community-oriented policing substation in the public housing area.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The study used a pre-post quasi-experimental design with a comparison site, examining multiple sources of data collected during the 17-month period of the project. The project site centers around a public housing unit and includes hotels and apartments, clubs and taverns, and the city’s bus transit station. The matched site was similar in size, population, and land use to the project site.

Three sources of data were used to determine the impacts of the project: resident surveys, official statistics, and an established inventory to assess objective levels of block-level physical and social disorder.

What were the key findings?

The project contributed to positive changes in residents’ perceptions of the quality of their neighborhood life, and perceptions of police services, as well as decreases in the level of neighborhood crime, with many of these changes resulting in statistically significant differences. Official crime statistics in the form of felony drug arrests and reported crimes indicate that the collaborative likely led to a decrease in the occurrences of crime and disorder in the project area. While the number of reported crimes in the project area significantly decreased, the number of reported crimes in the comparison area slightly increased over the same period.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

This comprehensive community anti-crime program showed promise for reducing crime through a combination of activities, including community involvement in the form of collaborative problem-solving meetings, social activities, the efforts of the resident resource coordinator, crime prevention education and programs, the opening of the community policing substation, and situational crime prevention efforts.

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