Dennis Smith on Evidence Based Urban Policing
Thanks to NYU Wagner’s Dennis Smith for leading this week’s brown bag on evidence based urban policing.
Smith discussed his work on Operation Impact, the NYPD’s primary program for reducing violent crime during the Bloomberg-Kelly era. His work suggests that the department’s shift toward community and hot spot policing in the 1990s, combined with the accountability enabled by CompStat, is a significant part of the explanation of why New York City experienced such a deep and prolonged decline in crime despite the fact that its incarceration rates remained flat. From a background paper:
"Our task was to answer the question, “How successful has Operation Impact been as a strategy for continued crime reduction in New York?” The simple answer is that Operation Impact, using a small fraction of the City’s total police force, focused on a very small fraction the total area policed by NYPD, has been consistently successful throughout its implementation in all precincts for all categories of violent crime. Since crime was already coming down when Operation Impact was inaugurated (although at a rate that was declining over time), “success” has to be defined in terms of its effect on the existing downward trajectory of crime. Precincts that were assigned Impact Zones starting in 2003 experienced a 24% acceleration in declining murder rates, a more than doubling of the rate of decline in rapes and grand larcenies, a 21% boost in the decline of robbery rate and of 23% in assault rate by 2006. Automobile theft which, as a property crime, and as a crime that has almost disappeared citywide (down almost 90% in most precincts) was not a priority focus of Operation Impact, alone among major crimes did not show an accelerated decline in Impact Zone precincts."