The next phase of evidence-based policing requires both scholars and practitioners to move from lists of specific studies about “what works” to using that information strategically. This requires developing generalizations or principles on the nature of effective police strategies and translating the field of police evaluation research into digestible forms that can be used to alter police tactics, strategies, accountability systems, and training. In this article, we present a tool intended for such use: the Evidence-Based Policing Matrix. The Matrix is a consistently updated, research-to-practice translation tool that categorizes and visually bins all experimental and quasi-experimental research on police and crime reduction into intersections between three common dimensions of crime prevention—the nature of the target, the extent to which the strategy is proactive or reactive, and the specificity or generality of the strategy. Our mapping and visualization of 97 police evaluation studies conducted through December 31, 2009, indicate that proactive, place-based, and specific policing approaches appear much more promising in reducing crime than individual-based, reactive, and general ones. We conclude by discussing how the Matrix can be used to guide future research and facilitate the adoption of evidence-based policing.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Our online tool allows us to update this collection every year.
The committee included Wesley Skogan, David H. Bayley, Lawrence Bobo, Ruth Davis, John Eck, David A. Klinger, Janet Lauritsen, Tracey Maclin, Stephen D. Mastrofski, Tracey L. Meares, Mark H. Moore, Ruth Peterson, Elaine B. Sharp, Lawrence Sherman, Samuel Walker, David Weisburd, and Robert Worden.
This book chapter was accepted for publication in 2008 by the editors, but the main volume has been delayed.
The Matrix is available online at http://gemini.gmu.edu/cebcp/matrix.html.
We drew on contemporary and foundational research describing the range of police activities, including the special Crime and Justice: A Review of Research volume on policing (Tonry and Morris 1992) and, in particular, Reiss’s (1992) description of police organization, as well as Sherman’s (1995) review of the police role in Crime (Wilson and Petersilia 1995). More recent volumes were also consulted, such as Weisburd and Braga (2006), as well as the systematic reviews and police literature reviews mentioned above.
Indeed, there are other dimensions that could be used. For example, law and society scholars might be interested in a “constitutionality” continuum, which provides a measure of high- and low-constitutionality controversy. A “Herbert Packer” continuum might be added (see Packer 1964), which could be characterized as a continuum between individual rights and community rights/crime control. Mastrofski might add a “legitimacy” continuum (see Mastrofski 1999), which ranks interventions according to how much they might challenge the legitimacy of an agency (see also Tyler 2004). However, for our purposes here, these three dimensions represent the most commonly shared descriptives for policing.
See the “Code Book for Methodological Rigor and Effect Size Computation” at the end of the Appendix of the Maryland Report for these descriptions.
The Matrix will be updated yearly with new studies that fit these qualifications. The entire coding of each study is available with the Matrix tool to maximize both transparency and discussion about study placement.
These databases included Criminological Abstracts, Criminal Justice Periodicals, Criminal Justice Periodical Index, National Criminal Justice Research Service, Dissertation Abstracts, and Google Scholar. We consulted publications from NIJ, the Police Foundation, the Police Executive Research Forum, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing. We plan to re-search these databases on a regular basis to update the Matrix with new studies.
The studies were divided equally so that each author initially coded two-thirds of the studies.
This symbol appears red in color on the website.
Removing the neighborhood-based studies, which are generally weaker methodologically, would further strengthen the basis for this generalization.
Abrahamse, A. F., Ebener, P. A., Greenwood, P. W., Fitzgerald, N., & Kosin, T. E. (1991). An experimental evaluation of the Phoenix repeat offender program. Justice Quarterly, 8, 141–168.
Bayley, D. H. (1994). Police for the future. New York: Oxford University Press.
Bayley, D. H. (1998). Policing in America: Assessments and prospects. Ideas in American Policing. Washington, DC: Police Foundation.
Bennett, T. (1990). Evaluating neighborhood watch. Basingstoke: Gower.
Bennett, T., Holloway, K., & Farrington, D. (2008). The effectiveness of neighborhood watch. Campbell Collaboration systematic review final report. Retrieved 4 June 2010 from: http://campbellcollaboration.org/lib/download/248/.
Braga, A. A. (2007). Effect of hot spots policing on crime. Campbell Collaboration systematic review final report. Retrieved 4 June 2010 from: http://campbellcollaboration.org/lib/download/118/.
Braga, A. A., Weisburd, D. L., Waring, E. J., Mazerolle, L. G., Spelman, W., & Gajewski, F. (1999). Problem-oriented policing in violent crime places: a randomized controlled experiment. Criminology, 37(3), 541–580.
Braga, A. A., Kennedy, D. M., Waring, E. J., & Piehl, A. M. (2001). Problem-oriented policing, deterrence, and youth violence: an evaluation of Boston's Operation Ceasefire. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 38(3), 195–225.
Braga, A. A., Pierce, G. L., McDevitt, J., Bond, B. J., & Cronin, S. (2008). The strategic prevention of gun violence among gang-involved offenders. Justice Quarterly, 25, 132–162.
Clark, R. C., Nguyen, F., & Sweller, F. (2005). Efficiency in learning: Evidence-based guidelines to manage cognitive load. Hoboken: Wiley.
Clarke, R. V. G., & Hough, J. M. (1980). The effectiveness of policing. Farnborough: Gower.
Connell, N. M., Miggans, K., & McGloin, J. M. (2008). Can a community policing initiative reduce serious crime? Police Quarterly, 11, 127–150.
Davis, R. C., Weisburd, D., & Hamilton, E. (2007). Preventing repeat incidents of family abuse: A randomized field trial of a second responder program in Redlands, CA. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.
Davis, R. C., Weisburd, D., & Taylor, B. (2008). Effects of second responder programs on repeat incidents of family abuse. Campbell Collaboration systematic review final report. Retrieved 4 June 2010 from: http://campbellcollaboration.org/lib/download/233/.
Eck, J., & Weisburd, D. (Eds.). (1995). Crime and place. Monsey: Criminal Justice Press/ Willow Tree Press.
Erickson, M., & Gibbs, J. (1975). Specific versus general properties of legal punishments and deterrence. Social Science Quarterly, 56, 390–397.
Esbensen, F.-A. (2002). National evaluation of the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program. Final report. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.
Farrington, D. P., & Petrosino, A. (2001). The Campbell Collaboration Crime and Justice Group. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 578, 35–49.
Farrington, D. P., Gottfredson, D., Sherman, L., & Welsh, B. (2002). The Maryland scientific methods scale. In L. W. Sherman, D. P. Farrington, B. Welsh, & D. MacKenzie (Eds.), Evidence-based crime prevention (pp. 13–21). New York: Routledge.
Goldstein, H. (1979). Improving policing: a problem-oriented approach. Crime & Delinquency, 25(2), 236–258.
Kelling, G. L., Pate, A. M., Dieckman, D., & Brown, C. (1974). The Kansas City preventive patrol experiment: Technical report. Washington, DC: Police Foundation.
Kennedy, D. M. (2009). Deterrence and crime prevention: Reconsidering the prospect of sanction. New York: Routledge.
Koper, C. (2008). The varieties and effectiveness of hot spots policing: Results from a national survey of police agencies and a re-assessment of prior research. Paper presented November 14 at the American Society of Criminology meeting, St. Louis, MO.
Koper, C. S., & Mayo-Wilson, E. (2006). Police crackdowns on illegal gun carrying: a systematic review of their impact on gun crime. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 2(2), 227–261.
Lawton, B. A., Taylor, R. B., & Luongo, A. J. (2005). Police officers on drug corners in Philadelphia, drug crime, and violent crime: intended, diffusion, and displacement impacts. Justice Quarterly, 22(4), 427–451.
Lasley, J. (1996). "Designing out" gang homicides and street assaults. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.
Laycock, G. (1991). Operation identification, or the power of publicity? Security Journal, 2, 67–72.
Lum, C. (2009). Translating police research into practice. Ideas in American Policing. Washington, DC: Police Foundation.
Lum, C. and Koper, C. (Forthcoming, accepted for publication in 2008). Is crime prevention relevant to counter-terrorism? In B. Forst, J. Greene, & J. Lynch (Eds.), Criminologists on terrorism and homeland security. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Lum, C., Kennedy, L. W., & Sherley, A. J. (2006). The effectiveness of counter-terrorism strategies. Campbell Collaboration systematic review final report. Retrieved 4 June 2010 from: http://campbellcollaboration.org/lib/download/53/.
Martin, S., & Sherman, L. W. (1986). Selective apprehension: a police strategy for repeat offenders. Criminology, 24, 155–172.
Mastrofski, S. D. (1999). Policing for people. Ideas in American Policing. Washington, DC: Police Foundation.
Mayer, R. E. (2003). The promise of multimedia learning: using the same instructional design methods across different media. Learning and Instruction, 13(2), 125–139.
Mazerolle, L. G., Price, J. F., & Roehl, J. (2000). Civil remedies and drug control: a randomized field trial in Oakland, CA. Evaluation Review, 24(2), 212–241.
Mazerolle, L., Soole, D. W., & Rombouts, S. (2007). Street-level drug law enforcement: A meta- analytic review. Campbell Collaboration systematic review final report. Retrieved 4 June 2010 from: http://campbellcollaboration.org/lib/download/123/.
McGarrell, E. F., Chermak, S., & Wilson, J. M. (2006). Reducing homicide through a "lever- pulling" strategy. Justice Quarterly, 23(2), 214–231.
National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research. (1996). A review of the literature on dissemination and knowledge utilization. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.
National Research Council (NRC). (2004). Fairness and effectiveness in policing: The evidence. Committee to Review Research on Police Policy and Practices. In W. Skogan & K. Frydl (Eds.), Committee on Law and Justice, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Nutley, S. M., Walter, I., & Davies, H. T. O. (2007). Using evidence: How research can inform public services. Bristol: The Policy Press.
O’Neill, M., Marks, M., & Singh, A.-M. (Eds.). (2007). Police occupational culture: New debates and directions. Amsterdam: Elsevier JAI Press.
Packer, H. L. (1964). Two models of the criminal process. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 113(1), 1–68.
Police Executive Research Forum. (2008). Violent crime in America: What we know about hot spots enforcement. Critical Issues in Policing Series. Washington, DC: Author.
President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. (1967). Task force report: The police. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Reiss, A. J. (1985). Policing a city's central district: The Oakland story. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.
Reiss, A. J., Jr. (1992). Police organization in the twentieth century. In M. Tonry & N. Morris (Eds.), Crime and justice: A review of research ((pp, Vol. 15, pp. 51–97). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Rosenbaum, D. P., Lewis, D., & Grant, J. (1986). Neighborhood-based crime prevention: Assessing the efficacy of community organizing in Chicago. In D. P. Rosenbaum (Ed.), Community crime prevention: does it work? Beverly Hills: Sage.
Rosenbaum, D. P., Flewelling, R. L., Bailey, S. L., Ringwalt, C. L., & Wilkinson, D. L. (1994). Cops in the classroom: A longitudinal evaluation of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE). Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency, 31(1), 3–31.
Rosenberg, M., & Knox, L. M. (2005). The matrix comes to youth violence prevention: a strengths-based, ecologic, and developmental framework. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 29(5), 185–190.
Sherman, L. W. (1983). Patrol strategies for police. In J. Q. Wilson (Ed.), Crime and public policy (pp. 145–163). San Francisco: ICS Press/Transaction Books.
Sherman, L. W. (1984). Experiments in police discretion: scientific boon or dangerous knowledge? Law and Contemporary Problems, 47, 61–81.
Sherman, L. W. (1986). Policing communities: what works? In M. Tonry & N. Morris (Eds.), Crime and justice: A review of research ((pp, Vol. 8, pp. 343–386). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Sherman, L. W. (1990). Police crackdowns: Initial and residual deterrence. In M. Tonry & N. Morris (Eds.), Crime and justice: A review of research ((pp, Vol. 12, pp. 1–48). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Sherman, L. W. (1992). Attacking crime: Police and crime control. In M. Tonry & N. Morris (Eds.), Crime and justice: A review of research, vol. 15 (pp. 159–230). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Sherman, L. W. (1995). The police. In J. Q. Wilson & J. Petersilia (Eds.), Crime (pp. 327–348). San Francisco: ICS Press.
Sherman, L. W. (1997). Policing for crime prevention. In L. W. Sherman, D. Gottfredson, D. MacKenzie, J. Eck, P. Reuter, & S. Bushway (Eds.), Preventing crime: What works, what doesn’t, what’s promising. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.
Sherman, L. W. (1998). Evidence-based policing. Ideas in American Policing. Washington, DC: Police Foundation.
Sherman, L. W., & Berk, R. A. (1984). The specific deterrent effects of arrest for domestic assault. American Sociological Review, 49, 261–272.
Sherman, L. W., & Rogan, D. P. (1995). Deterrent effects of police raids on crack houses: a randomized controlled experiment. Justice Quarterly, 12, 755–782.
Sherman, L. W., & Weisburd, D. (1995). General deterrent effects of police patrol in crime hot spots: a randomized controlled trial. Justice Quarterly, 12, 625–648.
Sherman, L. W., & Eck, J. E. (2002). Policing for crime prevention. In L. W. Sherman, D. P. Farrington, B. C. Welsh, & D. L. MacKenzie (Eds.), Evidence-based crime prevention (pp. 295–329). New York: Routledge.
Sherman, L. W., Schmidt, J. D., Rogan, D. P., Gartin, P. R., Cohn, E. G., Collins, D. J., et al. (1992). The variable effects of arrest on criminal careers: the Milwaukee domestic violence experiment. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 83, 137–169.
Sherman, L., Gottfredson, D., MacKenzie, D., Eck, J., Reuter, P., & Bushway, S. (1997). Preventing crime: What works, what doesn’t, what’s promising. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.
Sherman, L. W., Strang, H., & Woods, D. J. (2000). Recidivism patterns in the Canberra Reintegrative Shaming Experiments (RISE). Canberra: Center for Restorative Justice, Australian National University.
Sherman, L. W., Farrington, D. P., Welsh, B. C., & MacKenzie, D. L. (Eds.). (2002). Evidence- based crime prevention. New York: Routledge.
Skogan, W., Hartnett, S. M., et al. (1995). Community policing in Chicago, year two. Chicago: Criminal Justice Information Authority.
Smith, M. R. (2001). Police-led crackdowns and cleanups: an evaluation of a crime control initiative in Richmond, Virginia. Crime and Delinquency, 47, 60–83.
Stafford, M., & Warr, M. (1993). A reconceptualization of general and specific deterrence. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 30(2), 123–135.
Taylor, B., Koper, C. S., & Woods, D. (2010). Combating auto theft in Arizona: A randomized experiment with license plate recognition technology. Washington, D.C.: Police Executive Research Forum.
Tonry, M., & Morris, N. (Eds.). (1992). Crime and justice: A review of research, vol. 15. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Trojanowicz, R. (1986). Evaluating a neighborhood foot patrol program: The Flint, Michigan project. In D. P. Rosenbaum (Ed.), Community crime prevention: Does it work? (pp. 157–178). Beverly Hills: Sage.
Tyler, T. R. (2004). Enhancing police legitimacy. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 593, 84–99.
Villaveces, A., Cummings, P., Espetia, V. E., Koepsell, T., McKnight, B., & Kellermann, A. L. (2000). Effect of a ban on carrying firearms on homicide rates in 2 Columbian cities. Journal of the American Medical Association, 283(9), 1205–1209.
Weisburd, D. (2002). From criminals to criminal contexts: reorienting criminal justice research and policy. Advances in Criminological Theory, 10, 197–216.
Weisburd, D. (2008). Place-based policing. Ideas in American Policing. Washington, DC: Police Foundation.
Weisburd, D., & Green, L. (1995). Policing drug hot spots: the Jersey City drug market analysis experiment. Justice Quarterly, 12, 711–736.
Weisburd, D., & Eck, J. E. (2004). What can police do to reduce crime, disorder and fear? The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 593, 42–65.
Weisburd, D., & Lum, C. (2005). The diffusion of computerized crime mapping in policing: linking research and practice. Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, 6, 419–434.
Weisburd, D., & Braga, A. A. (Eds.). (2006). Police innovation: Contrasting perspectives. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Weisburd, D., Lum, C., & Petrosino, A. (2001). Does research design affect study outcomes? The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 578, 50–70.
Weisburd, D., Lum, C., & Yang, S.-M. (2003a). When can we conclude that treatments or programs “don’t work. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 587, 31–48.
Weisburd, D., Mastrofski, S. D., McNally, A. M., Greenspan, R., & Willis, J. J. (2003b). Reforming to preserve: compstat and strategic problem solving in American policing. Criminology and Public Policy, 2, 421–456.
Weisburd, D., Bushway, S., Lum, C., & Yang, S. (2004). Trajectories of crime at places: a longitudinal study of street sements in the city of Seattle. Criminology, 42(2), 283–322.
Weisburd, D., Telep, C. W., Hinkle, J. C., & Eck, J. E. (2008a). Effects of problem-oriented policing on crime and disorder. Campbell Collaboration systematic review final report. Retrieved 4 June 2010 from: http://campbellcollaboration.org/lib/download/228/.
Weisburd, D., Morris, N., & Ready, J. (2008b). Risk-focused policing at places: an experimental evaluation. Justice Quarterly, 25(1), 163–200.
Weisburd, D., Bernasco, W., & Bruinsma, G. (Eds.). (2009). Putting crime in its place: Units of analysis in geographic criminology. New York: Springer.
Weisburd, D., Telep, C. W., Hinkle, J. C., & Eck, J. E. (2010). Is problem-oriented policing effective in reducing crime and disorder? Findings from a Campbell systematic review. Criminology & Public Policy, 9, 139–172.
Willis, J. J., Mastrofski, S. D., & Weisburd, D. (2007). Making sense of COMPSTAT: a theory- based analysis of change in three police departments. Law & Society Review, 42, 147–188.
Wilson, D. B. (2001). Meta-analytic methods for criminology. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 578, 71–89.
Wilson, J. Q., & Petersilia, J. (Eds.). (1995). Crime. San Francisco: ICS Press.
About this article
Cite this article
Lum, C., Koper, C.S. & Telep, C.W. The Evidence-Based Policing Matrix. J Exp Criminol 7, 3–26 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-010-9108-2
- Evidence-based policing
- Hot spots policing