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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: 11 March 2014

Brian Wyant

The purpose of this paper is to generate information about the contours of police responsiveness, focussing on how quickly and precisely police make firearm arrests after…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to generate information about the contours of police responsiveness, focussing on how quickly and precisely police make firearm arrests after a shooting incident.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a modified version of the Knox close pair method, a spatio-temporal clustering technique, over 11,000 shooting incidents and firearm arrests between 2004 and 2007 in Philadelphia, PA were analyzed.

Findings

Police are responding quickly and in a geographically targeted fashion to shootings. Across Philadelphia elevated patterns of firearm arrests were approximately two and a half times greater than would be expected if shootings and firearm arrests lacked a spatio-temporal association. Greater than expected patterns of firearm arrests persisted for roughly one-fourth of a mile and for about one week from the shooting incident but the strength of these associations waned over space and time. The pattern of police response varied slightly across different police divisions.

Research limitations/implications

The current method uncovered spatio-temporal patterning and determined when these patterns were significantly different from what would be expected if the events were completely independent. Specific events and processes surrounding each event are not known.

Practical implications

Findings can help inform the knowledge about police behavior in terms of how police produce arrests.

Originality/value

The patterns observed here provide more micro-level detail than has been revealed in previous studies regarding police responsiveness to firearm violence while also introducing a more integrated spatially and temporally specific framework.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 37 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 15 May 2017

Jerry H. Ratcliffe, Amber Perenzin and Evan T. Sorg

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the violence-reduction effects following an FBI-led gang takedown in South Central Los Angeles.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the violence-reduction effects following an FBI-led gang takedown in South Central Los Angeles.

Design/methodology/approach

The time series impact of the intervention was estimated using a Bayesian diffusion-regression state-space model designed to infer a causal effect of an intervention using data from a similar (non-targeted) gang area as a control.

Findings

A statistically significant 22 percent reduction in violent crime was observed, a reduction that lasted at least nine months after the interdiction.

Research limitations/implications

The research method does make assumptions about the equivalency of the control area, though statistical checks are employed to confirm the control area crime rate trended similarly to the target area prior to the intervention.

Practical implications

The paper demonstrates a minimum nine-month benefit to a gang takedown in the target area, suggesting that relatively long-term benefits from focused law enforcement activity are possible.

Social implications

Longer-term crime reduction beyond just the day of the intervention can aid communities struggling with high crime and rampant gang activity.

Originality/value

Few FBI-led gang task force interventions have been studied for their crime reduction benefit at the neighborhood level. This study adds to that limited literature. It also introduces a methodology that can incorporate crime rates from a control area into the analysis, and overcome some limitations imposed by ARIMA modeling.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 40 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: 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: 30 May 2008

Bruce D. Johnson, Andrew Golub, Eloise Dunlap and Stephen J. Sifaneck

During the 1990s, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) instituted a policy of arresting and detaining people for minor offenses that occur in public as part of their…

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Abstract

Purpose

During the 1990s, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) instituted a policy of arresting and detaining people for minor offenses that occur in public as part of their quality‐of‐life (QOL) policing initiative. The purpose of this paper is to examine the pros and cons of the current policy and compare it with possible alternatives including: arrest and issuing of a desk appearance ticket (DAT); issuing of a non‐criminal citation (violation); street warnings; and toleration of public marijuana smoking.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reviews several studies of QOL policing and examines the pros and cons of the current NYPD policy, compared to possible alternatives.

Findings

The number of NYPD arrests for marijuana in public view (MPV) (with most detained for one or two days) increased from 3,000 in 1994 to over 50,000 in 2000, and have been about 30,000 in the mid‐2000s. Most of these arrestees (84 percent) were minority; Blacks were 2.7 more likely and Hispanics 1.8 times more likely to be detained than Whites for an MPV arrest. Minorities received more severe dispositions, even controlling for demographics and prior arrest histories.

Originality/value

The paper recommends that the NYPD change to routinely issuing DATs to reduce detention for marijuana violators. Drug policy reformers might wish to further pursue changing statutes regarding smoking MPV into a violation (non‐criminal) or encourage the wider use of street warnings, as in Britain. Any of these policy changes would help reduce the number detained and the disproportionate burden on minorities associated with the current arrest and detention policy. These policies could help maintain civic norms against smoking marijuana in public.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 31 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Book part
Publication date: 6 November 2018

Heather Schoenfeld, Rachel M. Durso and Kat Albrecht

Criminal law has dramatically expanded since the 1970s. Despite popular and academic attention to overcriminalization in the United States, empirical research on how court…

Abstract

Criminal law has dramatically expanded since the 1970s. Despite popular and academic attention to overcriminalization in the United States, empirical research on how court actors and, in particular, prosecutors, use the legal tools associated with overcriminalization is scarce. In this chapter, we describe three forms of overcriminalization that, in theory, have created new tools for prosecutors: the criminalization of new behaviors, mandatory minimum sentencing statutes, and the internal expansion of criminal laws. We then use a unique dataset of felony filings and dispositions in Florida from 1995 to 2015 to test a series of hypotheses examining how overcriminalization influences prosecutorial practices given three changes to the political economy during this time: the decline in violent and property crime, the Great Recession, and a growing call for criminal justice reform. We find that prosecutors have been unconstrained by declining crime rates. Yet, rather than rely on new criminal statutes or mandatory minimum sentence laws, they maintained their caseloads by increasing their filing rates for traditional violent, property and drug offenses. At the same time, the data demonstrate nonviolent other offenses are the top charge in almost 20% of the felony caseload between 2005 and 2015. Our findings also suggest that, despite reform rhetoric, filing and conviction rates decreased due to the Recession, not changes in the law. We discuss the implications of these findings for criminal justice reform.

Details

After Imprisonment
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-270-1

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Article
Publication date: 12 February 2018

Il-Hyoung Cho and Kyujin Jung

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), a crime prevention tool, on reducing rates of sexual…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), a crime prevention tool, on reducing rates of sexual assault. In addition, the study attempts to understand if CPTED results in crime displacement in non-target areas.

Design/methodology/approach

This research utilizes a Weighted Displacement Quotient (WDQ) model to analyze the effects of CPTED, which is an appropriate tool in fields of regional-scale crime prevention and on sexual assault prevention. WDQ is capable of analyzing policy effectiveness while controlling for geographical crime displacement, a known side effect of CPTED in the literature.

Findings

The analysis results show that CPTED is an effective tool to prevent sexual assaults in South Korea. The sexual assault occurrence rate decreased in the CPTED implementation zone of Yeomri-dong Mapo-gu. WDQ showed that crime displacement occurred in adjacent areas in Daeheung-dong and Ahyun-dong. But, crime displacement was lower than the policy effectiveness in the target zone.

Originality/value

The policy implications of this research are immense. First, CPTED for the prevention of sexual assaults should be considered as a pre-control tool. Second, a strategic method for more effectively implementing CPTED is required. Third, because CPTED is a policy done on a regional scale, provisions need to be in place to manage crime displacement.

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Article
Publication date: 31 May 2011

Michael R. Smith and Rhys Hester

The purpose of this paper is to analyze an important new US Supreme Court decision on automobile searches, Arizona v. Gant, and to discuss its implications for police…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze an important new US Supreme Court decision on automobile searches, Arizona v. Gant, and to discuss its implications for police policy and practice.

Design/methodology/approach

Using legal analysis and comparative methods, the paper illustrates how Gant changed settled case law on searches of automobiles incident to arrest, while at the same time leaving important questions unanswered in its wake.

Findings

In Arizona v. Gant (2009), the US Supreme Court held that police may search a motor vehicle incident to arrest, only if the arrestee is unsecured and within reaching distance of the vehicle when the search takes place, or when it is reasonable to believe that officers may find evidence in the vehicle related to the offense for which the arrest was made. This new rule places limitations on police who previously had broad authority to search the passenger compartment of a vehicle whenever the driver or a recent occupant was arrested.

Practical implications

In the wake of Gant, police must adapt their search policies and practices to reflect the new Gant restrictions. Officers should resist the temptation to leave arrestees unsecured while searching a vehicle. At the same time, the seizure of vehicles and subsequent use of inventory searches following an arrest likely will increase.

Originality/value

Police scholars and policy makers will find the analysis of Gant useful in illuminating the legal issues left unresolved by the decision, and the decision's implications for policy and practice.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 34 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Book part
Publication date: 13 May 2017

David S. Lee and Justin McCrary

Using administrative, longitudinal data on felony arrests in Florida, we exploit the discontinuous increase in the punitiveness of criminal sanctions at 18 to estimate the…

Abstract

Using administrative, longitudinal data on felony arrests in Florida, we exploit the discontinuous increase in the punitiveness of criminal sanctions at 18 to estimate the deterrence effect of incarceration. Our analysis suggests a 2% decline in the log-odds of offending at 18, with standard errors ruling out declines of 11% or more. We interpret these magnitudes using a stochastic dynamic extension of Becker’s (1968) model of criminal behavior. Calibrating the model to match key empirical moments, we conclude that deterrence elasticities with respect to sentence lengths are no more negative than 0 . 13 for young offenders.

Details

Regression Discontinuity Designs
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-390-6

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