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Proactive Policing and Robbery Rates Across U.S. Cities

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 48 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2010 Pages: 57-98
Charis E. Kubrin; Steven F. Messner; Glenn Deane; Kelly McGeever; Thomas D. Stucky
Date Published
February 2010
42 pages
This study examined the effect of "proactive" policing (vigorous enforcement of laws against relatively minor offenses to prevent more serious crime) on robbery rates for a sample of large U.S. cities, using an innovative measure developed by Sampson and Cohen (1988).
This replication of the Sampson and Cohen study using more recent data from a comparable sample of cities confirms their findings of a negative association between proactive policing and robbery rates when an analogous model is estimated. Further, the current findings show that their negative relationship is robust, at least for the sample investigated, indicating that proactive policing reduces robbery rates. The authors report that it is not possible in this study to identify the precise mechanisms that might be at work; however, the results of the analyses, in conjunction with earlier studies, provide ample grounds for more exploration into the connection between distinctive policing styles and violent crime rates. With greater knowledge of such mechanisms, it might be possible to design randomized experiments or quasi-experiments that would overcome the limitations inherent in any effort to make causal inferences on the basis of statistical modeling of correlational data. The authors further advise that whatever deterrent effects of proactive or any other policing style might prove to be, policy decisions must be informed not only by considerations of crime control, but by the fundamental values of a democratic society. For the independent variable, data were collected on robbery for all cities with populations of 100,000 and greater that were in the Uniform Crime Reports between 2000 and 2003. The primary independent variable was proactive policing. This variable is a ratio measured as the sum of the number of arrests for driving under the influence and disorderly conduct divided by the number of sworn police officers. 4 tables, 1 figure, 69 references, and appended technical details on the Arellano-Bond dynamic panel estimator