Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 143–170 | Cite as

Assessing community consequences of implementing hot spots policing in residential areas: findings from a randomized field trial

  • Tammy Rinehart Kochel
  • David Weisburd



This paper reports on the results of an experiment examining the community impact of collaborative problem solving versus directed patrol hot spots policing approaches relative to standard policing practices. The focus is the impact on community perceptions of police.


We randomly assigned 71 crime hot spots to receive problem solving, directed patrol, or standard police practices. The data are a panel survey of St Louis County, MO, hot spots residents before the treatment, immediately following treatment, and 6 to 9 months later. Applying mixed effects regression, we assessed the impact on residents’ perceptions of police abuse, procedural justice and trust, police legitimacy, and willingness to cooperate with police.


The residents receiving directed patrol were most impacted, experiencing depleted growth in procedural justice and trust relative to standard practice residents and nonsignificant declines in police legitimacy immediately following the treatment period. However, in both cases, views recover in the long term, after treatment ends. Problem-solving residents did not experience significant backfire effects. There was no increase in perceived police abuse in the hot spots conditions. Both treatment group residents, in the long term, were more willing to cooperate with police.


Though there is strong evidence that hot spots policing is effective in reducing crime, it has been criticized as negatively impacting citizen evaluations of police legitimacy, and leading to heightened perceptions of police abuse. However, our results suggest that there is no long-term harm to public opinion by implementing problem solving or temporarily implementing directed patrol in hot spots.


Hot spots policing Police legitimacy Procedural justice Police abuse Cooperation Problem solving Directed patrol 


  1. Allison, P. D. (2009). Fixed effects regression models. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blader, S. L., & Tyler, T. R. (2003). A four-component model of procedural justice: defining the meaning of a “fair” process. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29(6), 747–758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bradford, B., Jackson, J., & Stanko, E. A. (2009). Contact and confidence: revisiting the impact of public encounters with the police. Policing and Society, 19(1), 20–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bradford, B., Murphy, K., & Jackson, J. (2014). Officers as mirrors: policing, procedural justice and the (re)production of social identity. British Journal of Criminology, 54(4), 527–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Braga, A. A. (2001). The effects of hot spots policing on crime. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 578(1), 104–125.Google Scholar
  6. Braga, A. A. (2005). Hot spots policing and crime prevention: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 1(3), 317–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Braga, A. A. (2007). The effects of hot spots policing on crime. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 3(1), 1–36.Google Scholar
  8. Braga, A. A., Papachristos, A. V., & Hureau, D. M. (2014). The effects of hot spots policing on crime: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Justice Quarterly, 31(4), 633–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Braga, A. A., & Weisburd, D. (2010). Policing problem places: Crime hot spots and effective prevention. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Braga, A., & Bond, B. (2009). Community perceptions of police crime prevention efforts: Using interviews in small areas to evaluate crime reduction strategies. In J. Knutsson & N. Tilley (Eds.) Crime prevention studies (vol. 24, pp. 87–119). Monsey, NY: Criminal Justice Press.Google Scholar
  11. Braga, A., Papachristos, A., & Hureau, D. (2012). Hot spots policing effects on crime. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 8(8), 1–96.Google Scholar
  12. Brown, B., & Benedict, W. R. (2002). Perceptions of the police: past findings, methodological issues, conceptual issues and policy implications. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 25(3), 543–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chambliss, W. J. (1994). Policing the ghetto underclass: the politics of law and law enforcement. Social Problems, 41(2), 177–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chermak, S., McGarrell, E. F., & Weiss, A. (2001). Citizens’ perceptions of aggressive traffic enforcement strategies. Justice Quarterly, 18(2), 365–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cohen, P., Cohen, J., Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1999). The problem of units and the circumstance for POMP. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 34(3), 315–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Easton, D. (1975). A re-assessment of the concept of political support. British Journal of Political Science, 5(4), 435–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Epp, C. R., Maynard-Moody, S., & Haider-Markel, D. P. (2014). Pulled over: How police stops define race and citizenship. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fagan, J., & Tyler, T. (2004). Policing, order maintenance and legitimacy. In G. Mesko, M. Pagon, & B. Dobovsek (Eds.) Dilemmas of contemporary criminal justice (pp. 91–102). Maribor, Slovenia: Faculty of Criminal Justice, University of Maribor.Google Scholar
  19. Fagan, J., & Tyler, T. R. (2005). Legal socialization of children and adolescents. Social Justice Research, 18(3), 217–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ferguson, K. M., & Mindel, C. H. (2007). Modeling fear of crime in Dallas neighborhoods: a test of social capital theory. Crime and Delinquency, 53(2), 322–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gau, J. M. (2013). Consent searches as a threat to procedural justice and police legitimacy: an analysis of consent requests during traffic stops. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 24(6), 759–777.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gau, J. M., & Brunson, R. K. (2010). Procedural justice and order maintenance policing: a study of inner-city young men’s perceptions of police legitimacy. Justice Quarterly, 27(2), 255–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gelman, A., & Hill, J. (2007). Data analysis using regression and multilevel/hierarchical models. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Gueorguieva, R., & Krystal, J. H. (2004). Move over ANOVA: progress in analyzing repeated-measures data and its reflection in papers published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Archives of General Psychiatry, 61(3), 310–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hawdon, J. E., Ryan, J., & Griffin, S. P. (2003). Policing tactics and perceptions of police legitimacy. Police Quarterly, 6(4), 469–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hinds, L., & Murphy, K. (2007). Public satisfaction with police: using procedural justice to improve police legitimacy. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 40(1), 27–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hinkle, J. C., & Weisburd, D. (2008). The irony of broken windows policing: a micro-place study of the relationship between disorder, focused police crackdowns and fear of crime. Journal of Criminal Justice, 36(6), 503–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hinkle, J. C., Weisburd, D., Famega, C., & Ready, J. (2013). The problem is not just sample size: the consequences of low base rates in policing experiments in smaller cities. Evaluation Review, 37(3–4), 213–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jackson, J., Bradford, B., Hough, M., Myhill, A., Quinton, P., & Tyler, T. R. (2012). Why do people comply with the law? Legitimacy and the influence of legal institutions. British Journal of Criminology, 52(6), 1051–1071.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jesilow, P., Meyer, J., & Namazzi, N. (1995). Public attitudes toward the police. American Journal of Police, 14(2), 67–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kochel, T. R. (2011). Constructing hot spots policing: unexamined consequences for disadvantaged populations and for police legitimacy. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 22(3), 350–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kochel, T. R. (2012). Can police legitimacy promote collective efficacy? Justice Quarterly, 29(3), 384–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kochel, T. R., Parks, R., & Mastrofski, S. D. (2013). Examining police effectiveness as a precursor to legitimacy and cooperation with police. Justice Quarterly, 30(5), 895–925.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kochel, T.R., Burruss, G., & Weisburd, D. (2015). St Louis County Hot Spots in Residential Areas (SCHIRA) Final Report: Assessing the Effects of Hot Spots Policing Strategies on Police Legitimacy, Crime, and Collective Efficacy. Retrieved from
  35. Koper, C. S. (1995). Just enough police presence: reducing crime and disorderly behavior by optimizing patrol time in crime hot spots. Justice Quarterly, 12(4), 649–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Koper, C. S. (2014). Assessing the practice of hot spots policing: survey results from a national convenience sample of local police agencies. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 30(2), 123–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Koper, C. S., Taylor, B. G., & Woods, D. J. (2013). A randomized test of initial and residual deterrence from directed patrols and use of license plate readers at crime hot spots. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 9(2), 213–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lind, E. A., & Tyler, T. R. (1988). The social psychology of procedural justice. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McGarrell, E. F., Chermak, S., Weiss, A., & Wilson, J. (2001). Reducing firearms violence through directed police patrol. Criminology & Public Policy, 1(1), 119–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Murphy, K., Hinds, L., & Fleming, J. (2008). Encouraging public cooperation and support for police. Policing and Society, 18(2), 136–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pashea, J. J., & Kochel, T. R. (2016). Face-to-face surveys in high crime areas: balancing respondent cooperation and interviewer safety. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 27(1), 95–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ratcliffe, J. H., Groff, E. R., Sorg, E. T., & Haberman, C. P. (2015). Citizens’ reactions to hot spots policing: impacts on perceptions of crime, disorder, safety and police. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 11, 393–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Reisig, M. D., Bratton, J., & Gertz, M. G. (2007). The construct validity and refinement of process-based policing measures. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 34(8), 1005–1028.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Reisig, M. D., & Lloyd, C. (2009). Procedural justice, police legitimacy, and helping the police fight crime results from a survey of Jamaican adolescents. Police Quarterly, 12(1), 42–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rosenbaum, D. P. (2006). The limits of hot spots policing. In D. Weisburd & A. Braga (Eds.), Police innovation: Contrasting perspectives (pp. 245–263). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Schmerler, K., Perkins, M., Phillips, S., Rinehart, T., & Townsend, M. (2006). A guide to reducing crime and disorder through problem-solving partnerships. US Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Retrieved from
  47. Scherbaum, C. A., & Ferreter, J. M. (2009). Estimating statistical power and required sample sizes for organizational research using multilevel modeling. Organizational Research Methods, 12(2), 347–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Shaw, J. W. (1995). Community policing against guns: public opinion of the Kansas City gun experiment. Justice Quarterly, 12(4), 695–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sherman, L. W., Gartin, P. R., & Buerger, M. E. (1989). Hot spots of predatory crime: routine activities and the criminology of place. Criminology, 27(1), 27–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sherman, L. W., Gottfredson, D., MacKenzie, D., Eck, J., Reuter, P., & Bushway, S. (1997). Preventing crime: What works, what doesn’t, what’s promising. United States Congress prepared for the National Institute of Justice. Retrieved from
  51. Sherman, L. W., & Rogan, D. P. (1995). Effects of gun seizures on gun violence: “Hot spots” patrol in Kansas City. Justice Quarterly, 12(4), 673–693.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sherman, L. W., & Weisburd, D. (1995). General deterrent effects of police patrol in crime “hot spots”: a randomized, controlled trial. Justice Quarterly, 12(4), 625–648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Skogan, W., & Frydl, K. (2004). Fairness and effectiveness in policing: The evidence. Washington: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  54. Skogan, W. G. (2006). Asymmetry in the impact of encounters with police. Policing and Society, 16(02), 99–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Smith, H. J., Tyler, T. R., Huo, Y. J., Ortiz, D. J., & Lind, E. A. (1998). The self-relevant implications of the group-value model: group membership, self-worth, and treatment quality. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 34(5), 470–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sorg, E. T., Haberman, C. P., Ratcliffe, J. H., & Groff, E. R. (2013). Foot patrol in violent crime hot spots: the longitudinal impact of deterrence and posttreatment effects of displacement. Criminology, 51(1), 65–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Spelman, W. (1995). Once bitten, then what - cross-sectional and time-course explanations of repeat victimization. British Journal of Criminology, 35(3), 366–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. St Louis County. (2013). St Louis County, Missouri 2007–2012 Factbook. St Louis County.Google Scholar
  59. Sunshine, J., & Tyler, T. R. (2003). The role of procedural justice and legitimacy in shaping public support for policing. Law & Society Review, 37(3), 513–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Taylor, B., Koper, C. S., & Woods, D. J. (2011). A randomized controlled trial of different policing strategies at hot spots of violent crime. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 7(2), 149–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Telep, C. W., Mitchell, R. J., & Weisburd, D. (2014). 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, 31(5), 905–933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Telep, C. W., & Weisburd, D. (2014). Hot spots and place-based policing. In Encyclopedia of criminology and criminal justice (pp. 2352–2363). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Terrill, W., Paoline, E. A. I., & Manning, P. K. (2003). Police culture and coercion. Criminology, 41(4), 1003–1034.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Tso, G. (2016). Police brutality is not invisible. Retrieved from
  65. Tyler, T. R. (1990). Why people obey the law. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  66. Tyler, T. R. (2001). Public trust and confidence in legal authorities: what do majority and minority group members want from the law and legal institutions? Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 19(2), 215–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tyler, T. R. (2004). Enhancing police legitimacy. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 593(1), 84–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tyler, T. R., & Huo, Y. J. (2002). Trust in the law: Encouraging public cooperation with the police and courts. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  69. Tyler, T. R., Schulhofer, S., & Huq, A. Z. (2010). Legitimacy and deterrence effects in counterterrorism policing: a study of Muslim Americans. Law & Society Review, 44(2), 365–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Van der Toorn, J., Tyler, T. R., & Jost, J. T. (2011). More than fair: outcome dependence, system justification, and the perceived legitimacy of authority figures. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(1), 127–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Weisburd, D. (2008). Place-based policing. In Ideas in American policing, No. 9. Washington DC: Police Foundation.Google Scholar
  72. Weisburd, D., & Braga, A. A. (2006). Police innovation: Contrasting perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. 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(1), 42–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Weisburd, D., & Green, L. (1995). Policing drug hot spots: the Jersey City drug market analysis experiment. Justice Quarterly, 12(4), 711–735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Weisburd, D., Hinkle, J. C., Famega, C., & Ready, J. (2011). The possible “backfire” effects of hot spots policing: an experimental assessment of impacts on legitimacy, fear and collective efficacy. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 7(4), 297–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Weisburd, D. L., Groff, E. R., & Yang, S. M. (2012). The criminology of place: Street segments and our understanding of the crime problem. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Willis, J. J., Mastrofski, S. D., & Kochel, T. R. (2010). The co-implementation of Compstat and community policing. Journal of Criminal Justice, 38(5), 969–980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Xu, Y., Fiedler, M. L., & Flaming, K. H. (2005). Discovering the impact of community policing: the broken windows thesis, collective efficacy, and citizens’ judgment. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 42(2), 147–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Southern Illinois UniversityCarbondaleUSA
  2. 2.George Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  3. 3.Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael

Personalised recommendations