PROACTIVE POLICING AND ROBBERY RATES ACROSS U.S. CITIES*

Authors


  • *

    An earlier version of the article was presented at a workshop sponsored by the National Consortium of Violence Research (NCOVR). NCOVR has been supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. We are grateful to the participants at the workshop for comments on the article, with special thanks to Robert J. Bursik, Jr., Thomas Bernard (deceased), and Paul Nieuwbeerta. We are also grateful to Debra K. Mack of the Criminal Justice Information Services Division of the FBI for providing data on offenses, arrests, and police employees from the Uniform Crime Reporting program. Direct correspondence to Charis E. Kubrin, Department of Sociology, George Washington University, Phillips Hall 409, 801 22nd St. NW, Washington, DC 20052 (e-mail: charisk@gwu.edu).

Abstract

In recent years, criminologists, as well as journalists, have devoted considerable attention to the potential deterrent effect of what is sometimes referred to as “proactive” policing. This policing style entails the vigorous enforcement of laws against relatively minor offenses to prevent more serious crime. The current study examines the effect of proactive policing on robbery rates for a sample of large U.S. cities using an innovative measure developed by Sampson and Cohen (1988). We replicate their cross-sectional analyses using data from 2000 to 2003, which is a period that proactive policing is likely to have become more common than that of the original study—the early 1980s. We also extend their analyses by estimating a more comprehensive regression model that incorporates additional theoretically relevant predictors. Finally, we advance previous research in this area by using panel data, The cross-sectional analyses replicate prior findings of a negative relationship between proactive policing and robbery rates. In addition, our dynamic models suggest that proactive policing is endogenous to changes in robbery rates. When this feedback between robbery and proactive policing is eliminated, we find more evidence to support our finding that proactive policing reduces robbery rates.

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