Police Strikes and Conventional Crime

A Look at the Data



    1. Arizona State University
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    • Erdwin H. Pfuhl, Jr., is Professor of Sociology at Arizona State University. Published works include articles on juvenile delinquency, deviance and law, and a book on deviance. He is currently studying extralegal means of dispute settlement.

  • AUTHOR'S NOTE: I gratefully acknowledge Drs. David Altheide, Mary Benin, Michael Musheno, and Richard Nagasawa and anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions and criticisms of earlier drafts of this article.


Employing FBI “Return A Record Card” data, this study examines the impact of municipal police strikes on reported rates of burglary, robbery, larceny, and auto theft in 11 U.S. cities. Relationships reflecting the view that police presence is essential for crime prevention and social order are examined for variation duration of police strike, city size, and offense category. Overall, analysis yields very limited support for the police presence argument, suggesting that strikes have neither a significant nor a systematic impact on rates of reported crime. Implications of findings for the formulation of police policy are discussed.