A randomized test of initial and residual deterrence from directed patrols and use of license plate readers at crime hot spots
- 927 Downloads
To test the effects of short-term police patrol operations using license plate readers (LPRs) on crime and disorder at crime hot spots in Mesa, Arizona.
The study employed a randomized experimental design. For 15 successive 2-week periods, a four-officer squad conducted short daily operations to detect stolen and other vehicles of interest at randomly selected hot spot road segments at varying times of day. Based on random assignment, the unit operated with LPRs on some routes and conducted extensive manual checks of license plates on others. Using random effects panel models, we examined the impact of these operations on violent, property, drug, disorder, and auto theft offenses as measured by calls for service.
Compared to control conditions with standard patrol strategies, the LPR locations had reductions in calls for drug offenses that lasted for at least several weeks beyond the intervention, while the non-LPR, manual check locations exhibited briefer reductions in calls regarding person offenses and auto theft. There were also indications of crime displacement associated with some offenses, particularly drug offenses.
The findings suggest that use of LPRs can reduce certain types of offenses at hot spots and that rotation of short-term LPR operations across hot spots may be an effective way for police agencies to employ small numbers of LPR devices. More generally, the results also provide some support for Sherman’s (1990) crackdown theory, which suggests that police can improve their effectiveness in preventing crime through frequent rotation of short-term crackdowns across targets, as it applies to hot spot policing.
KeywordsCrackdowns Hot spots License plate readers Policing Randomized experiment Technology
This project was supported by grant 2007-IJ-CX-0023 awarded by the National Institute of Justice (Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice). The authors thank the Mesa, AZ Police Department (MPD) for its strong commitment to the project. We especially thank the auto theft unit officers, (Officers James Baxter, Joel Calkins, Stan Wilbur, and Brandon Hathcock), supervisory officer Cory Cover, Deputy Chief John Meza, and other MPD commanders. Also, the authors are very appreciative of Dr. Yongmei Lu for her work conducting geographic analyses. Finally, the authors thank David Weisburd and other anonymous peer reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. The views expressed here are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Mesa, AZ Police Department, the authors’ respective institutions, or any of the aforementioned individuals.
- Allison, P. D. (2005). Fixed effects regression models for longitudinal data using SAS. Cary: SAS Institute.Google Scholar
- Armitage, P. (1996). The design and analysis for clinical trials. In S. Ghosh & C. R. Rao (Eds.), Design and analysis of experiments. Handbook of statistics, Vol. 13 (pp. 1–25). Elsevier: Amsterdam.Google Scholar
- Baker, A. (2011). Camera scans of car plates are reshaping police inquiries. The New York Times, April 11. Downloaded August 30, 2012 from: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/12/nyregion/12plates.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.
- Barclay, P., Buckley, J., Brantingham, P. L., Brantingham, P. J., & Whinn-Yates, T. (1995). Preventing auto theft in suburban Vancouver commuter lots: Effects of a bike patrol. In R. Clarke (Ed.), Crime prevention studies (Vol. 6, pp. 133–162). Monsey: Criminal Justice Press.Google Scholar
- Boruch, R. F. (1997). Randomized experiments for planning and evaluation: A practical guide. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
- Bowers, K., Johnson, S., Guerette, R. T., Summers, L., & Poynton, S. (2011). Spatial displacement and diffusion of benefits among geographically-focused policing initiatives. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 3. doi: 10.4073/csr.2011.3.
- Braga, A., Papachristos, A., & Hureau, D. (2012). Hot spots policing effects on crime. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 8. doi: 10.4073/csr.2012.8.
- Campbell, D. T., & Stanley, J. S. (1963). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for research. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
- Chan, J. (2001). The technological game: how information technology is transforming police practice. Criminal Justice, 1(2), 139–159.Google Scholar
- Chan, J. (2003). Police and new technologies. In T. Newburn (Ed.), Handbook of policing (pp. 655–679). Portland: Willan.Google Scholar
- Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Cohen, I. M., Plecas, D., & McCormack, A. V. (2007). A report on the utility of the automated license plate recognition system in British Columbia. Abbotsford, British Columbia: School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University College of the Fraser Valley.Google Scholar
- Eck, J. E. (1993). The threat of crime displacement. Criminal Justice Abstracts, 25, 527–546.Google Scholar
- Eck, J., & Weisburd, D. (1995). Crime places in crime theory. In J. Eck & D. Weisburd (Eds.), Crime and place. Crime prevention studies, Vol. 4 (pp. 1–33). Monsey: Criminal Justice Press.Google Scholar
- Fleis, J. L. (1986). The design and analysis of clinical experiments. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Fleming, Z., Brantingham, P. L., & Brantingham, P. J. (1994). Exploring vehicle theft in British Columbia. In R. V. Clarke (Ed.), Crime prevention studies (Vol. 6, pp. 47–90). Monsey: Criminal Justice Press.Google Scholar
- Gabor, T., & Gottheil, E. (1984). Offender characteristics and spatial mobility: an empirical study and some policy implications. Canadian Journal of Criminology, 26(3), 267–281.Google Scholar
- Gelber, R. D., & Zelen, M. (1986). Planning and reporting of clinical trials. In P. Calabresi, P. S. Schein, & S. A. Rosenberg (Eds.), Medical oncology (pp. 406–425). New York: Macmillian.Google Scholar
- Gordon, K. (2006). Automatic license plate recognition. Law & Order, 545, 10–13.Google Scholar
- Henry, L., & Bryan, B. (2000). Visualising the spatio-temporal patterns of motor vehicle theft in Adelaide, South Australia. Adelaide: National Key Centre for Social Applications of GIS.Google Scholar
- Kable. (2010, February 3). Police have more than 10,000 ANPR cameras: ACPO data centre processing up to 14 million images per day. The Register. Retrieved August 30, 2012 from http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/02/03/police_anpr/.
- Kennedy, L. W., Poulsen, E. & Hodgson, J. (n.d.). Problem solving using crime mapping: concentration and context. Newark, NJ: Rutgers University.Google Scholar
- King, J., Mulligan, D. K., & Raphael, S. (2008). CITRIS report: The San Francisco community safety camera program. Berkeley, CA: Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
- Koper, C. S. & Lum, C. (2010). Realizing the potential of technology for policing: A multi-site study of the social, organizational, and behavioral aspects of implementing policing technologies. Proposal funded by the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice. Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum and Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, George Mason University (Fairfax, VA).Google Scholar
- Koper, C. S., Taylor, B. G., & Kubu, B. (2009). Technology and law enforcement: Future technologies to address the operational needs of law enforcement. Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum and the Lockheed Martin Corporation.Google Scholar
- LaVigne, N. G., & Lowry, S. S. (2011). Evaluation of camera use to prevent crime in commuter parking facilities: A randomized controlled trial. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.Google Scholar
- LaVigne, N. G., Lowry, S. S., Markman, J. A., & Dwyer, A. M. (2011). Evaluating the use of public surveillance cameras for crime control and prevention. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice.Google Scholar
- Lipsey, M. W. (1990). Design sensitivity: Statistical power for experimental research. Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
- Lum, C. (2010). Technology and the mythology of progress in American law enforcement. Science Progress (Center for American Progress), February 11. http://www.scienceprogress.org/2010/02/police-technology.
- Lum, C. Merola, L., Willis, J., & Cave, B. (2010). License plate recognition technologies for law enforcement: An outcome and legitimacy evaluation. Final report to SPAWAR and the National Institute of Justice. Fairfax, VA: Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, George Mason University. http://gemini.gmu.edu/cebcp/LPR_FINAL.pdf.
- Manning, P. K. (1992). Information technologies and the police. In M. Tonry & N. Morris (Eds.), Modern policing. Crime and justice: A review of research, Vol. 15 (pp. 349–398). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Maryland State Highway Authority. (2005). Evaluation of the License Plate Recognition System. Available from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials at http://ssom.transportation.org/Documents/LPR_report_part3.pdf.
- Mastrofski, S. D., Weisburd, D., & Braga, A. A. (2009). Rethinking policing: The policy implications of hot spots of crime. In N. A. Frost, J. D. Freilich, & T. R. Clear (Eds.), Contemporary issues in criminal justice policy: Policy proposals from the American Society of Criminology conference (pp. 251–264). Belmont: Wadsworth and Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
- McFadden, T. (2005). Automatic license plate recognition systems emerge as a law enforcement tool. OLETC Today., April 2005Google Scholar
- Musheno, M. C., Levine, J. P., & Palumbo, D. J. (1978). Television surveillance and crime prevention: evaluating an attempt to create defensible space in public housing. Social Science Quarterly, 58(4), 647–656.Google Scholar
- Nagin, D. S. (1998). Criminal deterrence research at the outset of the twenty-first century. In M. Tonry (Ed.), Crime and Justice (Vol. 23, pp. 1–42). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- National Research Council. (2004). In W. Skogan & K. Frydl (Eds.), Fairness and effectiveness in policing: The evidence. Washington, D.C: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- Ohio State Highway Patrol. (2005). Automatic plate reader technology. OH: Planning Services Section, Research and Development Unit.Google Scholar
- PA Consulting Group. (2003). Engaging criminality—denying criminals use of the roads. London: Author.Google Scholar
- PA Consulting Group. (2006). Police standards unit: Thematic review of the use of automatic number plate recognition within police forces. London: Author.Google Scholar
- Patch, D. (2005, January 1). License plate scanners lead to recovery of stolen vehicles. Toledoblade.com. Retrieved January 11, 2007 from: http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050105/NEWS11/501050412.
- Pierce, G., Spaar, S., & Briggs, L. (1988). The character of police work: Strategic and tactical implications. Boston: Center for Applied Social Research.Google Scholar
- Plouffe, N., & Sampson, R. (2004). Vehicle theft and theft from autos in parking lots in Chula Vista, CA. In M. G. Maxfield & R. V. Clarke (Eds.), Understanding and preventing car theft. Crime prevention studies, Vol. 17 (pp. 147–171). Monsey: Criminal Justice Press.Google Scholar
- Police Executive Research Forum. (2008). Violent crime in America: What we know about hot spots enforcement. Washington, D.C.: Author.Google Scholar
- Police Executive Research Forum. (2012). How are innovations in technology transforming policing? Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
- Rengert, G. (1996). Vehicle theft in Central Philadelphia. In R. Homel (Ed.), Policing For prevention: Reducing crime, public intoxication and injury. Crime prevention studies, Vol. 7 (pp. 199–219). Monsey: Criminal Justice Press.Google Scholar
- Riecken, H. W., Boruch, R. F., Campbell, D. T., Caplan, N., Glennan, T. K., Pratt, J. W., et al. (1974). Social experimentation: A method for planning and evaluating social programs. New York: Academic.Google Scholar
- Scott, M. S. (2003). The benefits and consequences of police crackdowns. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice.Google Scholar
- Shadish, W. R., Cook, T. D., & Campbell, D. T. (2002). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for generalized causal inference. New York: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
- Sherman, L. (1990). Police crackdowns: Initial and residual deterrence. In M. Tonry & N. Morris (Eds.), Crime and justice: An annual review of research (Vol. 12, pp. 1–48). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Taylor, B., Koper, C. S. & Woods, D. J. (2011a). Combating auto theft in Arizona: A randomized experiment with license plate recognition technology. Final report to the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice. Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum. http://www.policeforum.org/library/technology/FinalreportPERFLPRstudy12-7-11submittedtoNIJ.PDF.
- Telep, C. T., Mitchell, R. J., & Weisburd, D. L. (2012). How much time should the police spend at crime hot spots? Answers from a police agency directed randomized field trial in Sacramento, California. Justice Quarterly. doi: 10.1080/07418825.2012.710645.
- Weisburd, D. (1993). Design sensitivity in criminal justice experiments. In M. Tonry (Ed.), Crime and justice: An annual review of research (Vol. 17, pp. 337–379). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Weisburd, D. (2008). Place-based policing. Washington, DC: Police Foundation.Google Scholar