Neighborhood – Sedelmaier & Hipple (2016)

Study Reference:

Sedelmaier, C.M. & Hipple, N.K. (2016). New Haven, Connecticut Smart Policing Initiative: Employing Evidence-Based Policing Strategies to Engage the Community and Reduce Crime. Washington, DC: Smart Policing Initiative, Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Neighborhood; Focused; Highly proactive; Moderately rigorous; Mixed findings

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study examined a Smart Policing Initiative (SPI) that aimed to reduce violent crime in a New Haven, Connecticut neighborhood. The initiative included developing a data-driven foot patrol team, employing problem-oriented policing (POP) tactics, and creating a community outreach and engagement program. The SPI team used POP techniques to engage with the community and solve neighborhood-specific problems, utilized the SARA (Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment) model to identify and resolve problems, defined high-risk areas within the neighborhood to guide the foot patrol team, and dedicated a district manager and support team that would direct the intervention as officers on the ground changed from day to day.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The authors identified four comparison neighborhoods with similar rates of violent crime as the treatment neighborhood. Total crime and violent crime were analyzed at the neighborhood level as well as high-risk areas (identified through Risk Terrain Modeling) within each neighborhood for the 13-week intervention in addition to 13 weeks pre- and post- intervention.

What were the key findings?

While the treatment neighborhood experienced a nearly 33% drop in total crime from the pre- to the post-intervention periods, no significant differences between the treatment and comparison neighborhoods were observed for total crime counts. Violence was significantly reduced in the treatment neighborhood compared to only one of the four comparison neighborhoods. These findings should be interpreted with caution, as decreases in violent crime were seen in most neighborhoods and could be partially attributed to the onset of winter. Narrowing the focus to high-risk areas within each neighborhood, the authors find no significant differences in total crime between treatment and comparison areas. Violence significantly decreased between high-risk treatment and comparison areas, but the authors caution that this result is driven by a comparison neighborhood’s substantial increase in robberies.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors attempt to show that POP models are adaptable and can be developed according to the needs of the community. Further, the authors underscore the need for strong leadership on SPI-like projects for greater program effects, as line personnel can fluctuate. Finally, the authors suggest the lack of effect may be due to implementation challenges.

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