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Assessing the Effects of Hot Spots Policing Strategies on Police Legitimacy, Crime, and Collective Efficacy

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2015
36 pages
This study of policing strategies in St Louis County (Missouri) compared the impact of a police collaborative problemsolving approach (PS), directed patrol (DP), and standard policing practices (SPP, the control group) on crime hot spots in the county and residents' opinions of police, their neighborhoods, and their willingness to exert collective efficacy to improve public safety.
Under PS, 22 officers were assigned to the 20 PS sites. These officers were trained in the SARA method of PS in an initial 2-day session and a 1-day booster. Officers were required to partner with at least one stakeholder in addressing at least one problem, using the response strategies designed to counter identified problems (namely, burglary, theft of or from vehicles, domestic violence, assault, drug and gang problems, and quality of life concerns). DP sites involved doubling the time spent by officers at assigned hot spot locations, using automated vehicle location data to document officer time spent at baseline and weekly during the treatment period. Data indicate that both PS and DP policing strategies were superior to SPP (the control condition) in reducing crime in hot spots over the short term without lasting adverse effects on public attitudes toward police. The adverse effects of the two hot spots policing strategies were limited to initial feelings of mistrust and concerns about procedural justice among residents where DP was used. Over the long term, none of these detrimental effects persisted, and collective efficacy improved, along with residents' cooperation with the police. 16 figures, 4 tables, and 18 references

Date Published: June 1, 2015