Neighborhood – Weisburd et al. (2008)

Study Reference:

Weisburd, D., Morris, N., & Ready, J.. (2008). Risk-focused policing at places: An experimental evaluation. Justice Quarterly 25(1): 163-200.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Neighborhoods; Focused; Highly Proactive; Very Rigorous; No evidence of an effect

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study examines the Risk-Focused Policing at Places (RFPP) approach to preventing and reducing juvenile delinquency implemented by the Redlands (CA) Police Department. The RFPP program is a community-oriented policing and problem-solving strategy that targets risk and protective factors related to delinquency and problem behavior of youths. The RFPP approach incorporates problem-oriented policing tactics through careful assessment of the problems specific to a particular census block group area, and the tailoring of problem specific solutions. It takes a community-oriented approach by influencing and interacting with the community to cultivate and enhance prosocial community norms, healthy development of adolescent children and increased positive interactions with the police.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The authors used a matched block randomized experimental design to evaluate the effects of the program on youths living in 26 census block groups in Redlands. Randomization in the study was carried out at the cluster or place level where interventions were administered, but outcomes were examined in terms of samples of juveniles living in those places. Juveniles in 13 experimental census block groups received the RFPP treatment and 13 control census block groups received normal police service during the experimental period (2 years). The authors used the Communities that Care youth survey to assess baseline measures of risk and protective factors associated with delinquency. Since the intervention was targeted at places, yet the outcome focuses on individuals, the authors used hierarchical linear models to assess the impact of the place-based treatment on individuals, while simultaneously taking into account the clustering of individuals within block groups. After obtaining student information from the Redlands School District, 1,108 students were randomly selected for the sampling frame and a data-collection strategy was implemented involving several follow-up mailings.

What were the key findings?

The RFPP program did not significantly influence self-reported delinquency, perceptions of community, family or school risk and protective factors, or police legitimacy. However, students in the treatment group were more likely to report having been arrested in the past year as compared to those in the control group (although this difference was marginally statistically significant at p=.10). However, the authors advise caution in interpreting marginally significant outcomes given the large number of tests employed.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors recognize the lack of intervention effect as troubling since it suggests that place-based policing of this type may lead to increased risk of arrest irrespective of actual deviant behavior by juveniles. They also suggests that the census block group may be too high of a level geographically to achieve the kind of targeted and focused interventions that are likely to lead to positive crime-prevention outcomes.

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