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Using Traffic Barriers to "Design Out" Crime: A Program Evaluation of LADP's Operation Cul-de-Sac

NCJ Number
Date Published
122 pages
The Operation Cul-de-Sac (OCDS) Program, implemented in 1990 by the Los Angeles Police Department, involved the closure of 14 streets with permanent traffic barriers in a community deemed the most dangerous because of gang crime.
The program was constructed to "design out" drive-by shootings that occurred between rival gangs. Overall crime reductions in the OCDS program area for predatory crimes and property crimes decreased by about 20 percent during the first year of OCDS program operation. The second-year decrease in all crime categories was approximately 14 percent. In 1992, program effects were negated by budget cuts and policy changes and crime increased by 14 percent to the 1989 level. The incidence of drive-by shootings and murder appeared to have been significantly reduced by the introduction of traffic barriers. No displacement effect for drive-by shootings and murder was discovered; instead, evidence suggested traffic barriers may have resulted in positive placement, a reduction in murder within police patrol areas surrounding the OCDS program area. There was no evidence of criminal adaptation to the traffic barriers with respect to murder, because murder remained low for the entire 2 years of the active OCDS program period. Data on school effects of installing the traffic barriers showed truancy at the high school in the OCDS program area decreased by about 200 students per day. Residents of the OCDS program area indicated that fear of victimization was somewhat reduced following the installation of traffic barriers. Implications of the program findings for law enforcement agencies are discussed, and recommendations on the potential of traffic barriers as a crime prevention tool are offered. References, tables, and figures

Date Published: January 1, 1996