Neighborhood – Skogan et al. (1995)

Study Reference:

Skogan, W.G., Harnett, S.M., Lovig, J.H. et al. (1995). Community policing in Chicago, year two. Chicago: Criminal Justice Information Authority.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Neighborhoods; Focused; Highly Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This report is based on an ongoing evaluation of the planning, implementation, and impact of Chicago’s Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) throughout the city. The heart of the CAPS program is the reorganization of policing around small geographical areas. Officers assigned to beat teams identified and dealt with a broad range of neighborhood problems in five districts in partnership with neighborhood residents and community organizations and were freed from responding to 911 calls. All of these officers share responsibility for meeting and working with members of the community on a regular basis at beat meetings. In beat meetings, small groups of residents and police officers gathering in church basements and school rooms all over the city jointly develop plans for tackling neighborhood problems. A prioritizing system was developed for coordinating the delivery of municipal services to support local problem-solving efforts.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The authors analyzed reported crime figures and survey reports of victimization and neighborhood problems to measure crime, perceived crime, and attitudes toward the police. Other matters analyzed in the evaluation were program visibility, police supervisors’ opinions about CAPS, beat meetings, partnerships in action, community organization involvement, district advisory committees, and court advocacy. The first community evaluation survey was conducted in the five prototype CAP districts and four matched non-CAPS comparison areas in spring 1993, before the program began. Residents of four areas, and their comparison districts, were re-interviewed in June 1994. Residents in the remaining area were questioned again in September 1994.

What were the key findings?

Compared to the matched comparison districts, robbery reports declined in all five CAP districts during the first 17 months the program was in operation, and burglary reports declined in three. Survey results showed there were significant reductions in perceived crime problems in all five CAP areas, while only two of the comparison areas showed similar reductions. Other results suggested that the program also had positive impacts to varying degrees on perceptions of neighborhood disorder and decay and optimism about the police.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The CAPS program, which represents a geographically targeted community policing approach, was successful at reducing crime and improving public perception of the police and their neighborhoods.

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