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Newark Foot Patrol Experiment

NCJ Number
Date Published
143 pages

This text evaluates the effectiveness of the year long police foot patrol experiment in Newark, N.J., to determine if the advantages of foot patrols in urban areas warrant the expense.


The study encompasses three designs. The first compared the attitudes of foot patrol officers to motor patrol officers in all 28 New Jersey cities receiving State funding for foot patrols. The second studied reported crime in areas of Elizabeth, N.J., comparing areas with steady foot patrol coverage before and after initiation of the Safe and Clean Neighborhoods program in 1973 to areas with no preprogram patrol coverage. The third design used matched sets of beats in Newark to compare the effects of continuing and discontinuing foot patrols. Outcome measures were reported crimes, arrests, victimization, fear, and satisfaction of residents and merchants. Findings indicate that actual crime levels experienced by all respondents were not affected by foot patrols. Although residents were aware of the foot patrols and felt that crime was diminished by their presence, commercial respondents did not note an increase in patrols and perceived an increase in the crime problem. These contradictory responses probably resulted from the fact that foot patrols were used mainly at night when commercial establishments were closed. Moreover, multiple layoffs and unrest among police during the last stages of the experiment had a greater influence on merchants than on residents. Residents in areas with added foot patrols indicated greater reduction in use of protective measures than persons in other experimental areas. Overall, foot patrols improved citizens' (not merchants') feelings of safety under the most difficult urban circumstances. While the findings do not warrant a wholesale return to foot patrols, they may serve as an important part of police strategies to cope with current problems in congested urban areas and also as a valuable tool in crime information gathering. Foot patrols could be made more effective by providing special training and raising the status of foot patrol officers. Other suggestions are to increase their integration into neighborhood activities, their use for service calls, and also their use at times of highest street activity. A bibliography and tables are provided.