Study recommends fighting crime the old-fashioned way

Apr 20, 2010
As part of the Philadelphia Foot Patrol experiment, Temple researchers teamed with Philadelphia Police to identity the highest violent crime corners. Graduate student researchers Evan Sorg and Lallen Johnson walk the beat with Officers William Robbins and Jason Shensky.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers from Temple’s Department of Criminal Justice, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Police Department, have found a way to reduce violent crime in some of the city’s most dangerous locations. And it doesn’t involve hi-tech equipment or fancy CSI-like crime lab techniques.

Rather, it just takes good, old-fashioned shoe leather — in the form of community-based foot patrols.

For the study, Professor of Criminal Justice Jerry Ratcliffe and his research team analyzed data from across the city and mapped out the most violent street corners to identify the areas in greatest need of intervention. Next, 250 officers walked the beat in 60 of the city’s highest crime locations during the summer of 2009.

Researchers found that decreased by 22 percent.

And while the researchers did find some displacement of crime to nearby areas, overall the analysis showed that even after accounting for the shifts there were 50 fewer violent crimes last summer in Philadelphia than there would have been without the foot patrols.

“The long-held belief was that foot patrols made people feel good but didn’t actually do anything to prevent crime,” said Ratcliffe. “Our results may spark a revision of that view.”

Ratcliffe is a former officer with the London Metropolitan Police, where he served as a patrol officer, in an intelligence and information unit and as a member of the Diplomatic Protection Group. As a researcher, he now focuses much of his work on ways to improve police work — through the use of strategic thinking and intelligence-led policing.

Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who himself started out on a foot beat in Chicago, believed that adding foot patrols would be effective, but wanted to have objective data. That led to the partnership.

“We often dedicate our resources to combat crime without knowing precisely what the effect will be, or fully understanding how to allocate our resources,” said Ramsey. “Our research partners at Temple have done a terrific job here in helping us make informed decisions about how to deploy police personnel in the field to get the best results in crime reduction and community satisfaction.”

According to Ratcliffe, one thing that makes Temple’s study so unique is the level of collaboration with the police department. While conducting the study, Temple’s graduate-student researchers actually walked the beats with city officers.

Now in phase two of the study, researchers are digging deeper. They are conducting interviews with officers to determine what types of interventions were most effective. For example, some officers engaged in considerable community-oriented work, speaking to community members and visiting child care centers and juvenile hangouts, while others were more oriented, stopping vehicles and conducting field interviews of pedestrians.

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

More information: Further information can be found at the project web site, www.temple.edu/cj/FootPatrolProject

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Stop or I'll download

Apr 11, 2005

Police in Fresno, Ca., will soon be able to download mug shots and streaming video through computers in their patrol cars and special handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs). The city of 456,000 in the Golden State’s Cen ...

NYPD looking at futuristic weapons technology

Jun 06, 2009

(AP) -- The New York Police Department is looking into adapting futuristic technology that would allow officers' guns to recognize one another in an effort to avoid the type of friendly fire incident that left a cop dead ...

Study examines correlation between race and police force size

Oct 01, 2007

Empirical studies have long shown that crime rate and budget alone do not account for the size of an area’s police force. Police forces tend to be larger in areas where blacks comprise a larger percentage, and many sociologists ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 10

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Caliban
not rated yet Apr 20, 2010
No substitute for beating feet on the street!..Finally, acknowledgement that the common sense approach to law enforcement is effective and cost-efficient.

Far better to have the police available right on the corner when they are needed, as opposed to 60 blocks away in a patrol car.
ormondotvos
5 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2010
Or perhaps the cops did their job because the grad students were watching... Double blind, anyone?
croghan27
not rated yet Apr 20, 2010
I'd like to agree with you both ... but Caliban's idea would depend upon the constable being in the right place at the right time - if he in on his 'beat', on foot four block away he will miss a lot.
Evan_Sorg
not rated yet Apr 23, 2010
The grad students only walked with each footbeat for one hour on four occasions...thats not even a whole shift. The rest of the summer the officers walked alone and did what they normally would have...so no the officers did not do their job because grad students were watching
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Apr 23, 2010
The rest of the summer the officers walked alone and did what they normally would have...so no the officers did not do their job because grad students were watching

Speaking from a long history of working with police officers and having a great many as members of my family, you're wrong.
croghan27
5 / 5 (1) Apr 23, 2010
Skeptic - would you expand on that?

I have a view of the Police that may not be shared here - but they are workers and I DO have a lot of faith in workers to do their jobs.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Apr 23, 2010
Skeptic - would you expand on that?

I have a view of the Police that may not be shared here - but they are workers and I DO have a lot of faith in workers to do their jobs.

Oh yes, for example, my father was a beat cop. He would knock off for a nap or a smoke quite often. As did his contemporaries. Working with the INS on a grid system I found a good many federal officers do much the same.

Humans are humans, regardless of the badge. I have no less faith, but I don't put them on a pedestal either.
croghan27
not rated yet Apr 23, 2010
[
Humans are humans, regardless of the badge. I have no less faith, but I don't put them on a pedestal either.


It is rare that any worker anywhere spends 100% of their paid time assiduously at their job. But, that being said, that a 'beat cop' would drop into a local greasy spoon and have a cuppa falls, as far as I can see, well within the rubric of 'community relations'.

I began working in mines in the mid-60s and the old timers would tell me stories of the company 'pushers' that would skulk about making sure everyone was striving for increased production.

One you get a dichotomy between people's interests and what they do to support themselves - this is inevitable. 100% effort may be the order of the day for scientists - that do what they do out of affection for their endeavours, but for us mere mortals a cuppa joe and a smoke are well within the bounds of employment.

Don't be so hard on them.
Anynomouse
not rated yet Apr 25, 2010
I wonder why bicycle cops aren't more popular. They still are a man on the street, but they are 5 times faster.

My guess is that it is the same "image thing" that keeps people from using this 1,000 MPG bio-fueled vehicle that eliminates those trips to the gym.

How about more tests - but 3 way tests?
COCO
not rated yet May 04, 2010
excellent - we do a similar thing with cops in Canada - we motivated them with Tim Horton coffee shops and give them free coffee.

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.