Neighborhood – Pate et al. (1985) (Newark)

Study Reference:

Pate, A. M, Lavrakas, P. J., Wycoff, M. A., Skogan, W. G., & Sherman, L. W. (1985). Neighborhood police newsletters: Experiments in Newark and Houston, technical report. Washington, DC: Police Foundation.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Neighborhood; General; Proactive; Very Rigorous; No evidence of an effect

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study examines a community-policing strategy by the Newark Police Department that increases the flow of information to community members in the form of neighborhood newsletters. The newsletters contained a mix of general and specific items. The general items included crime prevention and other safety items meant to provide the reader with a sense that there were precautionary measures which could be employed to increase personal, household, and neighborhood security. Included among the neighborhood items was information about area officers, and “good news” stories about crime that had been prevented or solved, or other situations that had been resolved because of efforts of the police and citizens in the area. Two versions of the newsletter were tested. One version was the newsletter with an insert showing local crime statistics for the past month. The second version was the newsletter without the local crime statistics insert.

How was the intervention evaluated?

In Newark, the program area was a neighborhood in the southeast part of the city, from which a random sample of households were selected. Households were then randomly assigned to one of three conditions: the treatment conditions represented by each version of the newsletter, and the “control” condition represented by households which were not mailed any newsletter. The Newark sample contained 504 households. Some respondents were interviewed before newsletter distribution and again 6 months later. Others were interviewed only 6 months after newsletter distribution began.

What were the key findings?

Respondents in households that were sent newsletters without crime statistics undertook significantly fewer actions to protect their home against crime than did those sent no newsletter, while respondents sent newsletters with statistics gave a significantly less positive evaluation of police service in the area than did those sent no newsletter. Additionally, household receiving newsletters with crime statistics perceived their local crime information to be significantly more accurate than the other treatment group.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggest that police community newsletters, although successfully implemented as planned for six months, were generally unsuccessful in achieving their desired outcomes.

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