Study suggests proactive policing may do more harm than good

September 26, 2017 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org report
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

(Phys.org)—A pair of researchers, one with Louisiana State University, the other the University of Michigan has conducted a study on the benefits of proactive policing and have found an example where removing it appeared to lower crime rates. In their paper published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, Christopher Sullivan and Zachary O'Keeffe outline their crime data analysis for a time period when proactive policing was halted and describe what they found. David Weisburd with George Mason University offers a short history of studies done on proactive policing in the same journal issue and compares them with what the researchers in this new effort found.

Most people know that the bulk of crime in occurs in areas where poor people live and that more often than not, such areas have a high population of minorities. Because of that, police departments have focused a large share of their resources on such areas. In recent times, police have adopted a practice called proactive policing in which they engage heavily with people in their jurisdiction—stopping people, asking questions, making arrests for minor offenses, etc. The aim is to prevent serious crime, rather than arrest or prosecute after the fact—but some have accused the police of targeting minorities. Studies indicate, Weisburd notes, that such tactics do help reduce crime rates. But in this new effort, the researchers have found an example where the opposite was true.

To learn more about the possible benefits of proactive policing, the researchers studied New York City crime data for the period 2013 to 2016 and then specifically during a seven-week period in late 2014 and early 2015. The latter period followed protests regarding brutality leading to the death of Eric Garner. During those seven weeks, all proactive policing was halted.

In studying the data, the researchers found that reports of serious crimes, such as murder and robbery fell by 3 to 6 percent during the lull. This, they suggest, offers evidence that proactive policing not only does not prevent crime, it actually causes more . It is possible, they suggest, that citizens living in areas that are heavily policed grow angry at being targeted and thus feel justified in breaking the law.

Explore further: When should the police use confrontational tactics?

More information: Christopher M. Sullivan et al. Evidence that curtailing proactive policing can reduce major crime, Nature Human Behaviour (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-017-0211-5

Abstract
Governments employ police to prevent criminal acts. But it remains in dispute whether high rates of police stops, criminal summonses and aggressive low-level arrests reduce serious crime. Police officers target their efforts at areas where crime is anticipated and/or where they expect enforcement will be most effective. Simultaneously, citizens decide to comply with the law or commit crime partly on the basis of police deployment and enforcement strategies. In other words, policing and crime are endogenous to unobservable strategic interaction, which frustrates causal analysis. Here, we resolve these challenges and present evidence that proactive policing—which involves systematic and aggressive enforcement of low-level violations—is positively related to reports of major crime. We examine a political shock that caused the New York Police Department (NYPD) to effectively halt proactive policing in late 2014 and early 2015. Analysing several years of unique data obtained from the NYPD, we find that civilian complaints of major crimes (such as burglary, felony assault and grand larceny) decreased during and shortly after sharp reductions in proactive policing. The results challenge prevailing scholarship as well as conventional wisdom on authority and legal compliance, as they imply that aggressively enforcing minor legal statutes incites more severe criminal acts.

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41 comments

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MR166
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 26, 2017
From Wiki

"During his first term as mayor of New York City, Giuliani hired a new police commissioner, William Bratton, who applied the broken windows theory of urban decay, which holds that minor disorders and violations create a permissive atmosphere that leads to further and more serious crimes that can threaten the safety of a city.[3] Within several years, Giuliani was widely credited for major improvements in the city's quality of life, and in lowering the rate of violent crimes.[3] "

I worked in NY during this period and this policy made a huge difference. This article is pure BS.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (4) Sep 26, 2017
Did crimes actually drop or were people more reluctant to report them, fearing revenge?

Or were people fearing to go out more, or were they simply choosing to protect themselves?

"BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A burglar is in critical condition after he is shot twice by a homeowner, according to Anne Arundel County Police."

-Freddie grays neighborhood.
Blakut
3 / 5 (2) Sep 26, 2017
"In studying the data, the researchers found that reports of serious crimes, such as murder and robbery fell from 3 to 6 percent during the lull. "
What a drop, from 3 to 6!

MR166
1 / 5 (1) Sep 26, 2017
Deleted MR
Jeffhans1
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 26, 2017
This is ignoring the laws bring broken by the police by stop and frisk type encounters. Each and every one is a violation of law and constitution, but since its the minorities, it is perfectly fine... Police crimes are some of the hardest to ever get convictions on due to the thin blue line that somehow mitigates laws being enforced on the law keepers. Stratification of society might look good in the short term, but will only lead to a bloody revolution where we all lose.
Stevepidge
2 / 5 (4) Sep 26, 2017
As one with former police experience I can tell you that they indeed view themselves as a paramilitary organization. During the entirety of my law enforcement training program that lasted 6 months I noticed that the instructors were heavily indoctrinated with a few disturbing ideas.
1. Elected Sheriffs were a problem preventing the federalization of ALL police forces.
2. Hate crimes and harmful speech must be more aggressively policed.
3. Officer discretion on deciding when and where to enforce the law.
4. pretext stops or what is known as Terry stops which are dubious at best and heavily relied upon for random searches and seizures are based on minor traffic infractions like failure to use traffic signals when switching lanes on the interstate.
MR166
3 / 5 (4) Sep 26, 2017
If you have any doubts as to what happens when the police become passive just look at the crime rates in Baltimore MD after the mayor told the police to stand back. I think that the numbers are worse than Chicago now.
Whydening Gyre
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 26, 2017
My own experience is that 3 individuals (police, prosecution, defense council) committed statutory FELONIES to ensure my misdemeanor DUI, via falsification of evidence, suppression of evidence and complicit action.
This was done because I am NOT a minority.
In their predatory mindsight, I am (and others like me, as well) a food chain resource.
I do NOT hold the judge responsible...
He acted in accordance with the law -
they did not.
rderkis
2.3 / 5 (6) Sep 26, 2017
but will only lead to a bloody revolution where we all lose.

The sky is falling, the sky is falling.
MR166
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 26, 2017
I could see that the police and prosecutor could be trying to obtain an unjust conviction but why would a defense council join with them?
Whydening Gyre
4 / 5 (4) Sep 26, 2017
I could see that the police and prosecutor could be trying to obtain an unjust conviction but why would a defense council join with them?

Politics, to start.. The "ex-prosecuter" still maintained communication with his former employer. He also stood to make an additional 2500 to represent in front of the Secy of State.
IOW - fraud.
BTW, the officer made an extra 1200 (at least) for his court appearances. And got those court appearances with a provable lie. More fraud...
My Council refused to present that lie in order to prevent "drawing the ire of the Court" for "making an officer look bad". As a "deer in the headlights" at the time, I believed him.

Oh, and let's not forget the lack of Miranda rights reading...
(Which both Prosecution and Defense Council were aware of... and hid - thru evidence suppression)
Corruption at it's finest.
Eikka
3 / 5 (2) Sep 26, 2017
I worked in NY during this period and this policy made a huge difference. This article is pure BS.


Proactive policing and the broken window theory are different things. What Giuliani did was simply to increase the amount of reactive policing.

Proactive policing means following people around, shaking them up etc. on the suspicion that they -might- commit a crime. That makes the people wary of the police rather than looking up at them as protectors because you might get hassled, even killed, for absolutely nothing. This changes the social dynamics such that normal people start to fear and avoid the police, putting themselves in places and situations where the police is not, which is exactly where the criminals thrive.
Jeffhans1
1 / 5 (1) Sep 26, 2017
I could see that the police and prosecutor could be trying to obtain an unjust conviction but why would a defense council join with them?

Politics, to start.. The "ex-prosecuter" still maintained communication with his former employer. He also stood to make an additional 2500 to represent in front of the Secy of State.
IOW - fraud.
BTW, the officer made an extra 1200 (at least) for his court appearances. And got those court appearances with a provable lie. More fraud...
My Council refused to present that lie in order to prevent "drawing the ire of the Court" for "making an officer look bad". As a "deer in the headlights" at the time, I believed him.

Oh, and let's not forget the lack of Miranda rights reading...
(Which both Prosecution and Defense Council were aware of... and hid - thru evidence suppression)
Corruption at it's finest.

Standard operating procedure. Double standards for anyone not related to an officer or member of the court.
Da Schneib
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 26, 2017
I messaged the editors regarding the apparently incorrect statement,
In studying the data, the researchers found that reports of serious crimes, such as murder and robbery fell from 3 to 6 percent during the lull.
. Hopefully they will correct this article.
MR166
3 / 5 (2) Sep 26, 2017
" you might get hassled, even killed, for absolutely nothing."

Usually Eikka you and I are on the same page. Your view of reality in science makes for some cutting analysis of the BS.

But here is where you an I depart. The BLM movement is nothing more than yet another way to divide us as a nation. When you take into account the number of police encounters that occur every year and the physical threats that they face every day the amount of unjust outcomes are miniscule.
rrwillsj
2 / 5 (8) Sep 26, 2017
Several of the commentators are ignoring that those who are victims of police misconduct feel that they are being persecuted.

For driving while black, for being female, for juvenile skylarking in their own neighborhoods, for being a noisy badly-dressed adolescent.

Those smugly entitled to police protection because they have the influence of wealth. Earned by cheating their investors, their employees, their customers, their clients and especially cheating on their taxes. Being perpetual cheats explains why so many of them cheat on their wives. And, by ignoring contact with their children, cheat them of the parenting they beg for.

The present collapse of Constitutional Government with the decay of Civic Spirit vividly displays the rot within America's white-purity caste.

And explains the growing suicide rate by senior white males. As at the end of their miserable lives, they face the realization of their personal failures as Human Beings!
Whydening Gyre
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 26, 2017
Several of the commentators are ignoring that those who are victims of police misconduct feel that they are being persecuted.
...
The present collapse of Constitutional Government with the decay of Civic Spirit vividly displays the rot within America's white-purity caste.

And explains the growing suicide rate by senior white males. As at the end of their miserable lives, they face the realization of their personal failures as Human Beings!

Wow, rr... Why don't ya tell us how ya REALLY feel....
Whydening Gyre
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 26, 2017
" you might get hassled, even killed, for absolutely nothing."

The BLM movement is nothing more than yet another way to divide us as a nation.

The initiating of these divisive groups are protected by the 1st Amendment, BTW. Ergo, gov sanctioned.
When you take into account the number of police encounters that occur every year and the physical threats that they face every day the amount of unjust outcomes are miniscule.

When you lump parking tickets, vehicle registration violations, traffic stops and homicides in the same pile, you might be right...
"Even 1 innocent man in jail is 1 too many (Paraphrase of Thomas Jefferson, I believe)
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2017
But here is where you an I depart. The BLM movement is nothing more than yet another way to divide us as a nation.


This has nothing to do with the BLM.

Innocent people have been killed by the police acting trigger-happy, and regardless of what you think of it, the fact of the situation is that a large portion of the people now percieve the police as a real threat to their very lives. Plus there's all the reports about other corruption, such as confiscating the cash you're carrying for no reason in a traffic stop.

In the eyes of the people, particularily the minorities, the police are starting to act more and more like some corrupt eastern bloc militsiya.^ Regardless of whether that is true in your area, the more they hassle the people by being "proactive", the more they reinforce the concept and the less the people trust the police.

^(There's a case in Georgia where the president fired the entire 30,000 strong traffic police force, and crime went down)
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2017
When you take into account the number of police encounters that occur every year and the physical threats that they face every day the amount of unjust outcomes are miniscule.


Escalation of violence isn't helped by the fact that some of the police are now running around in military gear and shooting before asking questions.

It's a curious sentiment that the lives of the police officers are somehow more important than the lives of the pubic they're tasked to protect, so that the police officer is always in the right to whip out a gun at even the perception of provocation, like in the case where the officer shot a deaf man for not responding to verbal commands.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2017
Good, they fixed it. It now reads "fell *by* 3 to 6 percent."
MR166
3 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2017
Eikka I would like to see you, as a policeman, patrolling US drug gang infested streets and see the change in your attitude. These gang members kill just for the fun of it and need to do so on a regular basis just to maintain there status. Charles Barkley said it best, "When you resist arrest bad stuff happens.".
MR166
1 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2017
Of the cases that reached the papers the police were fully vindicated 90% of the time when the true facts were made known. Of course by then it was too late and the media had fulfilled it's goal of creating a division in society.
The true purpose of this movement is to take control of the police away from the states and local governments and create a federal police force under central control. Now if you want to talk about abuse of power there is fertile ground when it comes to our central government. Also the civil forfeiture laws need to be abolished due to widespread abuse by all levels of government.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (6) Sep 27, 2017
This changes the social dynamics such that normal people start to fear and avoid the police, putting themselves in places and situations where the police is not, which is exactly where the criminals thrive
Normal people dont wear gang tats on their faces. Your media is lying to you again. The question is, why you dont question it?

"Before protests over Freddie Gray's death turned chaotic, an unlikely alliance was born in Baltimore on Saturday: Rivals from the Bloods and the Crips agreed to march side by side against police brutality.
The alleged gang members are pictured on social media crowding together with Nation of Islam activists"

-Why arent you asking yourself who has the most to gain from reduced police presence?

Why dont you think before swallowing media bullshit?
MR166
1 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2017
"Those smugly entitled to police protection because they have the influence of wealth. Earned by cheating their investors, their employees, their customers, their clients and especially cheating on their taxes. "

That is the other great division in our country that was purposely created by the Progressive movement and their media puppets. Most of the rich in the US got there by hard work and using their intelligence. They are all not like Soros who sold his fellow countrymen to the Nazis. It is amazing how he is now a hero of the Progressives.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Sep 27, 2017
Case in point
like in the case where the officer shot a deaf man for not responding to verbal commands
"Police ordered Sanchez to drop the weapon and get on the ground, Mathews said. Both officers had weapons drawn — Lindsey had a Taser and Barnes a gun. Sanchez came off the porch and was walking toward Barnes."

-This moron was deaf not blind. And stupid. What do you think a gun pointed at you means? And how would those cops know the bystanders werent lying to them, as they often do?

Re michael brown

"Witnesses admitted to lying. According to Robert McCulloch, St. Louis County Prosecutor, "Some witnesses admitted they didn't actually see the shooting, or only saw part of the shooting, or only repeating what they heard on the street.""

-No hands up dont shoot. The cop shot to save his life.
MR166
1 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2017
Damm RR I gave you a 5 instead of a 1. I never bother to give 1s but you are an exception to the rule with that silly post. In the US you are Free. Freedom also means free to fail as well as succeed. Don't blame the system for your results.
drrobodog
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 27, 2017
Eikka I would like to see you, as a policeman, patrolling US drug gang infested streets and see the change in your attitude.

Whether Eikka can or cannot perform that job does not absolve those, whose job it is, of doing it correctly.

Normal people dont wear gang tats on their faces.

You are assuming the police are targeting only known gang members. What about the people wearing non-gang tats on their faces or just people who just happen to live in the area?

Why arent you asking yourself who has the most to gain from reduced police presence

Proactive policing is not the same as police presence.

Most of the rich in the US got there by hard work and using their intelligence.

If a game has unfair rules, playing by those rules doesn't make it a fair win.
billpress11
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 27, 2017
Below is a link that seems to refute the claim made in this article.

Notice the huge over all crime rate drop after stop-and-frisk started in NYC. Also notice the number of guns taken off the streets in NYC by their stop-and-frisk policy. NYC is still reaping the benefits from this reduction of guns to this day.

https://www.washi...4ef117c4
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (5) Sep 27, 2017
What about the people wearing non-gang tats on their faces or just people who just happen to live in the area?
What makes you think theyre targeting normal people in the area? Wolf Blitzer? The same sort of witness who lied about michael brown?
Proactive policing is not the same as police presence
YES it is.

"Proactive policing is the practice of deterring criminal activity by showing police presence and engaging the public to learn their concerns, thereby preventing crime from taking place in the first place."
If a game has unfair rules
The rules are fairer here than anywhere else in the world, despite what your lying politicians and wolf blitzer tell you.

-So you got all your comments wrong. Too bad.
MR166
3 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2017
"Whether Eikka can or cannot perform that job does not absolve those, whose job it is, of doing it correctly."

My point was that most of the people on this board would start complaining to OSHA if they got so much as a blister on their thumb at their workplace. Yet, these same people expect the police to be supermen and to ignore the daily threats to their lives when dealing with gangs and other felons.
drrobodog
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 28, 2017
What makes you think theyre targeting normal people in the area?

The definition:
"and engaging the public"

YES it is.

The use of "and" in a definition indicates multiple requirements, to be valid. It possible to increase police presence in an area, say for the purposes of reactive policing, while not engaging the public to learn their concerns.
Would this be considered proactive policing?
No.
So while police presence is a component of proactive policing, it is not the sole requirement nor is it exclusive to proactive policing.

The rules are fairer here than anywhere else in the world

Even if that were true, it has no bearing on my statement.

So you got all your comments wrong. Too bad.

It is bad form to judge a debate that isn't finished or one you are invested in.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) Sep 28, 2017
The use of "and" in a definition indicates multiple blah
You can quibble all you want dog, you were implying that police were routinely harassing minorities without providing any statistics to back this up. Just like wolf blitzer and the gang.
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (4) Sep 28, 2017
Sounds to me that many of the commentators expect LEO to proactively protect them from any apparent or implied threat to their well-being. What's all that noise about you manly men being strong enough to defend yourselves?

Lacking in self-awareness, you are allowing your internalized conditioning of hate and fear to dominate your social connections.

It is no surprise that every Fourth of July, when NPR has recitation of the Declaration of Independence. A mob of altright, pseudo-white supremacists protest that the NPR is broadcasting treason. All that bluster of Constitutional Freedoms, you would deny to those of the melanin persuasion or with XX chromosomes.

Like that old joke about the promiscuous preacher who demanded that everyone else was to act like a stereotype christian. While in full-blown hypocrisy, he gets to act like a stereotype pagan.

I speculate that your desire to deprive others of freedom is based on your own subconscious masochist fantasies.

MR166
1 / 5 (2) Sep 28, 2017
RR the altright knows more about the Constitution and the genius of our founding fathers than you and the hosts at National Propaganda Radio ever will.
billpress11
2 / 5 (4) Sep 28, 2017
rr is the best you can come up is a little name calling? How about attacking one of the best proactive police tactic ever, stop-and-frisk? Oh, I see you don't have an answer to how that tactic save 1000's of lives in NYC do you? It could probably do the same in Chicago.
drrobodog
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 29, 2017
you were implying that police were routinely harassing minorities without providing any statistics to back this up.

You were asserting that proactive policing involves police only engaging known criminals. I pointed out this was incorrect, as confirmed by the definition you supplied.

Just like wolf blitzer and the gang.

No need to associate me with people I don't know, or statements I didn't make.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 29, 2017
No need to associate me with people I don't know, or statements I didn't make
-nor people you might want to google in a few seconds. Like you didnt google proactive policing before commenting on it.
You were asserting that proactive policing involves police only engaging known criminals
No i was asserting that there is a proper def of the term which you werent aware of before commenting on it.

You wont get away with making stuff up here.
MR166
not rated yet Oct 01, 2017
http://dailycalle...rk-kids/

So proactive does no good eh!
drrobodog
2 / 5 (4) Oct 02, 2017
Like you didnt google proactive policing before commenting on it.

I did. Which is why I let you know proactive policing is not the same as police presence, as confirmed by the definition you supplied.

No i was asserting that there is a proper def

No. Eikka was talking about the effects proactive policing may have on the normal people in an area. You responded implying that proactive polcing only targets gang members, which as mentioned isn't the case. You then implied that a decrease in proactive policing requires a decrease in police presense, this also isn't true.

You wont get away with making stuff up here.

it's obvious you are very polarize regarding this topic. If you are not willing follow the conversation, or at least read the definition you supplied, I will take my leave.
drrobodog
2 / 5 (4) Oct 02, 2017
http://dailycaller.com/2017/10/01/deblasio-effect-cops-seizing-more-guns-and-knives-from-new-york-kids/

So proactive does no good eh!

I believe we are all well aware of the benefits of proactive policing as indicated in the article.
Studies indicate, Weisburd notes, that such tactics [proactive policing] do help reduce crime rates.


This article however focuses on the identified counter example, and attempts to rationalize it.
But in this new effort, the researchers have found an example where the opposite was true.

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