CHAPTER 31Is Proactive Policing Effective?

Police react to crimes as they are reported, but they also have developed strategies (often referred to as proactive policing) that attempt to prevent, rather than react to, crimes. In this chapter, we will discuss evidence concerning the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the following proactive policing procedures.

  • Hot spots policing—Assigning more police resources to known high-crime areas.
  • Predictive policing—Using methods such as regression to predict crime for a given time and place and allocating resources based on the predicted level of crime.
  • CCTV (Closed Circuit TV)—The use of cameras to monitor high-crime areas.
  • Stop and frisk—Police stop and search a person when they believe there is a “reasonable suspicion” (see SCOTUS 1968 decision Terry v. Ohio) that the person has committed a crime or is about to commit a crime. Stop and frisk is often referred to as SQF (stop, question, and frisk).
  • Broken windows—Based on the belief that social disorder causes crime, police increase the number of arrests for misdemeanors such as broken windows.

Much of our discussion is drawn from Proactive Policing (National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2018).

Hot Spots Policing

It seems reasonable that assigning more police resources to “hot spots” or high-crime areas might significantly reduce crime. In Chapter 19, “Evidence-Based Medicine,” we illustrated how randomized control trials (RCTs) have been used to determine if ...

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