Neighborhood – Novak et al. (1999)

Study Reference:

Novak, K., Hartman, J. L., Holsinger, A. M., & Turner, M. G. (1999). The effects of aggressive policing of disorder on serious crime. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management, 22, 171-190.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Neighborhood; Focused; Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; No evidence of an effect

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study analyzes the impact of a police crackdown on disorder and increased police presence on serious crime. Community members defined late-night joyriding and people drinking on the street as local problems, and they approached police and an agent in charge of the state regulatory agency requesting assistance. The regulatory agency, whose jurisdiction included alcoholic beverages, assigned six undercover agents in the target area and instructed them to make arrests and issue citations for open containers of alcoholic beverages. In addition, the local police department agreed to allocate several police cars on the corners of residential blocks to dissuade joyriding. The police sat stationary in their patrol cars at these intersections from 11.00 p.m. to 3.00 a.m., and were highly visible to passers-by. These officials did not have their vehicle emergency lights on, and were not ordered to take any particular type of action (e.g. problem solving). This intervention lasted one month.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The evaluation examines a target area, in which the aggressive policing occurred, as well as a control area, which was selected based on its comparable crime rate and demographic make-up to the target area. Crime data were collected for the 52 weeks before and 52 weeks subsequent to the four-week intervention period. The outcome measures are the number of total crimes reported to the police within the assigned areas.

What were the key findings?

Comparisons of weekly robbery and burglary crime rates across areas yielded no significant differences between target and control areas. A time-series analysis revealed the intervention had no statistically significant impact on serious crime in any of the areas examined.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggest two possible explanations for the results: (1) the dosage level was not high enough or (2) the intervention was too short in duration to have a noticeable impact. Additionally, instead of being present at one location for four hours, the officers would likely have made better use of their time by rotating to other residential intersections within the target area.

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