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Article
Publication date: 25 May 2012

William Wells, Yan Zhang and Jihong Zhao

This paper aims to estimate the effects of gun possession arrests made by a specialized, proactive police patrol unit in the Houston Police Department (HPD).

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to estimate the effects of gun possession arrests made by a specialized, proactive police patrol unit in the Houston Police Department (HPD).

Design/methodology/approach

Time series analyses are used to estimate the effects of weekly gun possession arrests on weekly counts of gun crimes in Houston, TX. Models isolate the effects of arrests made by the proactive patrol unit from gun possession arrests made by other HPD officers.

Findings

Citywide and beat‐level analyses show that the proactive unit made meaningful contributions to existing levels of illegal possession arrests. Time series analyses using weekly data show that these additional arrests are associated with significant declines in offences committed with guns. Findings support existing evidence that shows police can affect serious crimes by targeting firearms that are illegally possessed and carried.

Research limitations/implications

The analysis can not precisely determine whether additional patrol presence or arrests are the precise mechanisms that might be influencing gun crimes.

Practical implications

The findings are consistent with existing evidence and suggest that focused police work to seize illegally possessed firearms from the streets and arrest those in illegal possession of firearms will impact offences committed with firearms.

Originality/value

The analysis extends existing work that tests the effects of proactive patrol activities on offences committed with firearms. The analysis is distinct from existing research on this topic because it estimates the effects of gun possession arrests rather than the effects of gun seizures.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 35 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 16 August 2013

Christopher S. Koper, Daniel J. Woods and Bruce E. Kubu

The purpose of the study is to examine gun violence prevention practices among urban police in the USA, assessing their scope, effectiveness, limitations, and impacts.

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2067

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the study is to examine gun violence prevention practices among urban police in the USA, assessing their scope, effectiveness, limitations, and impacts.

Design/methodology/approach

A national survey was conducted with police agencies serving cities of 100,000 or more people.

Findings

Strategies used most frequently and rated as most effective include targeted efforts focussed on high‐risk places and groups, as well as multi‐agency problem‐solving efforts, particularly those involving federal authorities. However, most agencies make limited use of proactive strategies to reduce gun crime, and there are substantial gaps in the enforcement of many gun laws. Results also suggest that gun crime is lower in places where police engage in more intensive gun‐related enforcement and prevention efforts.

Research limitations/implications

The survey focussed only on large US cities. Implementation of the strategies could not be examined in detail, and assessments of the effectiveness of strategies reflect the views of practitioners. There is a need for more in‐depth research on gun‐related enforcement and prevention practices, their effectiveness, and the organizational and environmental factors that facilitate or hinder them.

Practical implications

The study highlights strategies that should be given priority consideration in policy decisions. The findings also suggest that police efforts to address gun crime can be enhanced considerably – and that doing so may produce demonstrable reductions in gun crime. Further examination of policy changes necessary to facilitate these efforts is warranted.

Originality/value

This study represents the first national survey of gun violence reduction efforts by police in the USA.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 36 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 4 April 2019

Joshua T. Shadwick, William R. King, Yan Zhang, Matthew C. Matusiak and Bradley A. Campbell

Forensic crime labs play an important role in the criminal justice system’s response to violent gun crimes in the USA. The purpose of this paper is to describe the methods…

Abstract

Purpose

Forensic crime labs play an important role in the criminal justice system’s response to violent gun crimes in the USA. The purpose of this paper is to describe the methods of firearms analysis including ballistics imaging and proposed best practices for investigating gun crimes. A separate line of research has begun to explore the structure of forensic labs and how structure impacts lab performance.

Design/methodology/approach

To date, however, proposed best practices in firearms investigation have not been empirically tested within crime labs. The authors address this gap in the literature by using a mediation model examining organizational correlates of a limited number of tasks (identified by Peter Gagliardi’s 13 Critical Tasks) believed to enhance our final dependent measures, forensic crime lab outcomes (NIBIN acquisitions and hits). The authors examine, therefore, the relationship between organizational correlates, collected from a sample of publicly funded labs in the USA, on several of Gagliardi’s tasks and then explore the relationship of those tasks on our outcome variables: NIBIN acquisitions and hits.

Findings

Results indicate agency size and number of agencies serviced by a lab are significant factors associated with our mediating variables (Gagliardi’s tasks). Communication was identified as a significant task associated with achieving NIBIN acquisitions and hits. In general, this study underscores the importance of communication between labs and other institutional constituents for increasing ballistics imaging outputs. Furthermore, findings provide partial support for Gagliard’s tasks, by highlighting the role of enhanced communication on organization-based performance outcomes.

Originality/value

This study is the first to examine the mediating effect of Gagliardi’s tasks on the organizational performance of ballistics imaging systems within crime labs. In addition, this study examines the influence of organizational correlates on these mediating tasks.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 42 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 24 January 2019

Jerry H. Ratcliffe and George Kikuchi

The purpose of this paper is to describe and test a quantitative harm-focused approach to offender selection for investigation and surveillance. The approach incorporates…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe and test a quantitative harm-focused approach to offender selection for investigation and surveillance. The approach incorporates a measure of crime harm as well as a time-decay function that adjusts the score downward for offenders who desist from crime.

Design/methodology/approach

Across 10 of 21 high-crime police districts in the city of Philadelphia, the authors compare the mean harm scores of 60 prolific offenders selected by district analysts, 60 prolific offenders selected citywide by detectives assigned to the Gun Violence Reduction Task Force and the top 60 prolific offenders chosen from a harm-score generated list of known offenders in the ten high-crime districts.

Findings

The offenders on the harm-focused list have significantly greater mean harm scores than the offenders identified by the crime analysts or task force personnel. They have a significantly greater mean number of gun crime episodes in their offending history as well.

Research limitations/implications

The harm-focused approach uses arrest data that may not accurately reflect convictions and which miss undetected criminal activity. A leader of a criminal organization who orchestrates criminal activities but does not engage directly may have a low harm score. Arrest data may also suffer from some inherent bias. The approach also requires the creation of a crime harm index. Determining the operational impact on overall crime reduction by focusing on offenders with higher harm scores will require further research.

Practical implications

Clinical methods of target selection based on officer intuition, opinion and experience may have limitations in terms of effectiveness and accuracy. They also lack transparency and may incorporate bias, a critical consideration given the current crisis in police-community trust and legitimacy. The actuarial method of weighing the harm of past offending with a crime harm score may be more acceptable and defendable to the community. It also identifies offenders with a higher frequency of involvement in gun crimes. Until methodological limitations are better understood, a compromise may be to start with the harm-score method (data-driven) and supplement this initial list through intelligence and investigative information.

Originality/value

The paper expands crime harm indices to quantify offender triage lists. The authors also empirically demonstrate through a case study that the approach is more effective at identifying harmful offenders than methods that solely rely on the experience or intuition of either crime analysts or detectives.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 42 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 1996

Michael R. Pendleton

Reports from within a larger study of crime and enforcement in forests and parks, this field study having taken place in western USA over a 24‐month period. Interviews…

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2671

Abstract

Reports from within a larger study of crime and enforcement in forests and parks, this field study having taken place in western USA over a 24‐month period. Interviews Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) about their career history, the enforcement system and related issues ‐ notably weapons events. Finds that LEOs are not heavy‐handed and that the types of crime encountered give valid reasons for their carriage of firearms.

Details

American Journal of Police, vol. 15 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0735-8547

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Article
Publication date: 29 April 2021

Philip J. Levchak

This study examines the effect of TimeZup – a lever pulling strategy designed to reduce gun violence in New Haven, Connecticut.

Abstract

Purpose

This study examines the effect of TimeZup – a lever pulling strategy designed to reduce gun violence in New Haven, Connecticut.

Design/methodology/approach

A series of ARIMA and dynamically complete models are estimated to determine if TimeZup was associated with any significant changes in New Haven's murder, firearm robbery and firearm assault rates. A quasi-experimental design is also used to compare New Haven to six, similarly situated cities in the Northeastern United States.

Findings

The results indicate that New Haven experienced a significant decrease in its firearm robbery rate in the summer of 1997 – a date that preceded TimeZup but coincided with other lever pulling strategies implemented by the New Haven Police Department.

Originality/value

Although an older program, TimeZup was not rigorously analyzed. After the conclusion of the program, basic pre- and post-comparisons suggested TimeZup was effective. Using a rigorous methodology, this study shows it was not. This study points out that interventions such as TimeZup often coincide with pre-existing crime reduction strategies. Evaluators should account for those pre-existing strategies because it may be those strategies – and not the intervention being examined – that are impacting crime rates.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 44 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1998

Julius Wachtel

There is agreement in the literature that offenders often acquire guns through unregulated private encounters with friends, family members and petty criminals. Although…

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1199

Abstract

There is agreement in the literature that offenders often acquire guns through unregulated private encounters with friends, family members and petty criminals. Although anecdotes suggest that licensed gun dealers also play a role, most studies have ignored or discounted the possibility that dishonest retailers are a significant source of supply. This effort explores gun markets in Los Angeles by examining the redistributive history of firearms seized by police and by reviewing Federal gun trafficking investigations. One finding, that corrupt licensed dealers diverted sizeable quantities of guns to end users and to unlicensed street vendors, suggests that retail sources may serve as a far more important source of firearms for criminals than is commonly supposed.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 21 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2008

John Pitts

John Pitts outlines recent developments on gang crime, including policy initiatives and regional and local projects.

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156

Abstract

John Pitts outlines recent developments on gang crime, including policy initiatives and regional and local projects.

Details

Safer Communities, vol. 7 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-8043

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 18 May 2021

Michelle Marie Esposito and Anna King

In early 2020, the world faced a rapid life-changing pandemic in the form of the Coronavirus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19) crisis. Citywide lockdowns with stay-at-home orders…

Abstract

Purpose

In early 2020, the world faced a rapid life-changing pandemic in the form of the Coronavirus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19) crisis. Citywide lockdowns with stay-at-home orders and mass closings quickly became the “new normal.” With these new mandates, routine activity, mental health and financial securities all began to experience major deviations, and it became clear that this could prove to be rather valuable in providing the opportunity for large-scale criminology experiments. This study aims to explore New York City's (NYC) crime patterns during this unique social situation. Specifically, has crime as a whole increased or decreased, and have particular crimes increased or decreased during these stressful fluid times?

Design/methodology/approach

The authors briefly review previous crises and worldwide trends but focus on NYC crime as collected by the New York Police Department's statistics unit, “CompStat.” An analysis of 13 crime types from March 30 to July 5 was completed, including percent differences and individual weekly incidence rates in citywide crimes compared to the same time in 2019.

Findings

The analysis demonstrated that all crimes analyzed, except for murder and burglary, exhibited a statistically significant difference during COVID-19 conditions compared to the same time the previous year. Grand larceny auto and gun violence crimes significantly increased during COVID-19 weeks, whereas rape, other sex crimes, robbery, felony assault, grand larceny, transit, housing, misdemeanor assault and petit larceny all significantly decreased.

Originality/value

Due to the ongoing nature of the pandemic, this is amongst the first studies to examine trends in NYC crime during pandemic mandates. Expanding our knowledge in these situations can inform natural disaster responses, as well as criminal justice policy and practice to better protect the public in future crises.

Details

Journal of Criminal Psychology, vol. 11 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2009-3829

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Article
Publication date: 11 December 2019

Xiaoyun Wu and Cynthia Lum

Empirical research suggests that traffic enforcement is the most common type of proactive activity police officers engage in on a daily basis. Further, agencies often use…

Abstract

Purpose

Empirical research suggests that traffic enforcement is the most common type of proactive activity police officers engage in on a daily basis. Further, agencies often use traffic enforcement to achieve both traffic safety and crime control. Given these goals, the purpose of this paper is to investigate whether (and to what extent) officers are accurately targeting their proactive traffic enforcement with crime and vehicle crashes in two agencies.

Design/methodology/approach

The study examines traffic enforcement patterns in two agencies to see whether proactive traffic enforcement aligns spatially with crime and vehicle crashes. This study employs negative binomial regression models with clustered standard errors to investigate this alignment at the micro-spatial level. Key variables of interest are measured with police calls for service data, traffic citation data and vehicle crash data from two law enforcement jurisdictions.

Findings

High levels of spatial association are observed between traffic accidents and crime in both agencies, lending empirical support to the underlying theories of traffic enforcement programs that also try to reduce crime (i.e. “DDACTS”). In both agencies, traffic accidents also appear to be the most prominent predictor of police proactive traffic enforcement activities, even across different times of day. However, when vehicle crashes are accounted for, the association between crime and traffic stops is weaker, even during times of day when agencies believe they are using proactive traffic enforcement as a crime deterrent.

Originality/value

No prior study to authors knowledge has examined the empirical association between police proactive traffic activities and crime and traffic accidents in practice. The current study seeks to fill that void by investigating the realities of traffic stops as practiced daily by police officers, and their alignment with crime and vehicle crashes. Such empirical inquiry is especially important given the prevalent use of traffic enforcement as a common proactive policing tool by police agencies to control both traffic and crime problems.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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