This study examined the effects of order-maintenance arrests on precinct-level robbery and homicide trends in New York City for 1988-2001, using more reliable crime and arrest data, longer time series, and more extensive controls for other influences than were used in previous research.
The study found that order-maintenance policing (OMP) did contribute to robbery and homicide declines in New York City; however, the impact was modest, and substantial crime reductions likely would have occurred even without the increase in OMP. In addition to OMP, several factors were associated with New York City's robbery and homicide declines. These factors pertained to socioeconomic disadvantage, racial composition, and immigrant concentration. There was also evidence that areas with greater initial crime levels experienced significantly greater crime decreases. Order-maintenance effects persisted even when the study controlled for robbery and homicide increases since 1984, which marked the beginning of the New York City crack epidemic. The crime, arrest, and criminal complaint data used in the study were from precinct-level annual reports produced by the New York City Police Department. The annual number of police officers per precinct was obtained from the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board. The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services provided data on the number of persons sentenced to prison from each precinct. The dependent variables in the analysis were the homicide rates and robbery rates per 10,000 precinct residents. The key explanatory construct was OMP, which was measured as the annual number of misdemeanor and ordinance-violation arrests per 10,000 precinct residents. The number of citizen complaints of misdemeanor and ordinance violations per 10,000 residents was used as a measure of disorder in the homicide, robbery, and OMP models. 4 figures, 3 tables, 43 references, and 1 appendix