Community Policing

Kevin Lewis

April 21, 2023

Police diversity and crime clearance for Black and Hispanic victims
Aki Roberts & Hannah Smith
Criminology & Public Policy, forthcoming


As a policy response to historically strained police-minority community relations, police diversification is hoped to improve policing outcomes in minority communities. An improved police-community relationship may be expected to lead to increased citizen cooperation in crime investigations and therefore be beneficial for crime clearance, but there are different perspectives on the nature of this link. We examined several measures of Black police representation (Black officer percentage, Black racial congruence between the police force and the jurisdiction's population, and presence of Black police chief or head) and their relationships with arrest clearance of National Incident-Based Reporting System aggravated assault incidents involving Black victims in 205 agencies. We also explored similar Hispanic police representation measures in a sample of aggravated assault incidents with Hispanic victims in 158 agencies. In multilevel survival analyses with agency/jurisdiction- and incident-level controls, none of the Black representation measures were significantly associated with clearance of Black victims’ incidents. We obtained similar results for the Hispanic representation measures and clearance of Hispanic victims’ incidents.

Racial disparities in drug arrest before and after 'de facto' decriminalization in Baltimore
Saba Rouhani et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, forthcoming 

Methods: Police and court records were used to explore possible impacts of Baltimore City's de facto decriminalization on street arrests and (“processed”) arrests advancing through the courts among PWUD. Interrupted time series models were used to compare pre-policy (January 2018–March 2020) to post-policy trends (April 2020–December 2021) in arrests for possession of drugs/paraphernalia and estimate racial disparities in street arrests (Black vs other races). Analyses were performed February-May, 2022.

Results: The policy was associated with a significant and immediate decline in street and processed arrests for possession which was not seen for other crime categories. While declines were concentrated in the Black community, disparities in arresting persisted after the policy.

The Impact of Police Shootings on Gun Violence and Civilian Cooperation
Maya Mikdash & Reem Zaiour
University of California Working Paper, February 2023 


This paper studies the effect of police-involved shootings on gun violence and civilian cooperation with police, as proxied by crime reports made via 911 calls. To distinguish between crime reporting and crime incidence, we use administrative data on 911 calls and ShotSpotter data from Minneapolis. Exploiting the variation in the timing and the distance to these incidents, we show that while exposure to a police shooting increases gun-related crimes by 3-6 percent, it has no effect on shots reported. Taken together, this implies police shootings reduce civilian crime reports to police by 4-6 percent.

Neighbourhood Gangs, Crime Spillovers and Teenage Motherhood
Christian Dustmann, Mikkel Mertz & Anna Okatenko
Economic Journal, forthcoming 


Using an identification strategy based on random assignment of refugees to different municipalities in Denmark between 1986 and 1998, we find strong evidence that gang crime rates in the neighbourhood at assignment increase the probability of boys to commit crimes before the age of 19, and that gang crime (but not other crime) increases the likelihood of teenage motherhood for girls. Higher levels of gang crime also have detrimental and long-lasting effects, with men experiencing significantly higher levels of inactivity and women experiencing lower earnings and higher levels of welfare benefit claims at ages 19 to 28.

The Invisible Driver of Policing
Farhang Heydari
Stanford Law Review, forthcoming 


This Article connects the administrative state and the criminal system -- two dominant modes of governance that too often are discussed in isolation. It presents an original account of how the policies and the failures of federal administrative agencies drive criminal law enforcement at the local level. In doing so, this Article exposes a major driver of criminal policy and possible interventions to correct some of its failures. The primary vehicle for this analysis is an in-depth case study of National Highway and Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) -- the federal agency best known for crash-test dummies, five-star ratings, and a traffic safety mission -- and its support for pretextual traffic stops. This Article unearths a series of NHTSA programs that have, for decades, trained state and local police to use traffic stops in an effort to ferret out drug traffickers, violent criminals, and even terrorists. NHTSA’s embrace of a policing mindset created an unexpected enabler of pretextual stops, one that kept agency resources away from systemic regulation of the auto industry. The impact of NHTSA’s quiet campaign has been significant, engraining its view of traffic stops within policing agencies across the country without public visibility or oversight. These revelations come at a critical moment for a nation struggling with twin crises of traffic safety and policing. Learning from NHTSA and moving to the broader administrative state, this Article draws on a diverse set of agencies to identify a pattern of non-law enforcement agencies shirking their systemic regulatory duties in favor of individual criminal law enforcement. The result is that parts of the administrative state have become systemic drivers of over-policing and criminalization in ways that have, until now, received virtually no attention.

The “stickiness” of stigma: Guilt by association after a friend's arrest
Erin Tinney
Criminology, forthcoming 


Prior research has examined the consequences of one's police contact, but the consequences of vicarious police contact are not as well known. This study expands on labeling theory and the concept of “stickiness” by assessing whether a friend's arrest increases the likelihood of one's police contact. Using a sample of rural youth (N = 13,170), I find that a friend's arrest is associated with an increase in the likelihood of one's first arrest the next year after accounting for other predictors of police contact. Based on my theoretical framework, I interpret this finding as “guilt by association.” In addition, ending relationships with friends who have been arrested does not significantly impact this relationship. This study concludes that police contact may be harmful for a youth's social network and builds on the concept of stickiness by suggesting that stigma not only sticks from one individual to another but may also stay despite efforts to end one's association with the arrested individual. The study expands on preexisting research on the consequences of adolescent police contact by introducing a friend's police contact as a way in which an individual may be more likely to become involved in the justice system.

Crime in your area: Use of neighborhood apps is associated with inaccurate perceptions of higher local crime rates
Adam Fetterman, Carter Baker & Brian Meier
Psychology of Popular Media, forthcoming 


Neighborhood apps provide real-time updates about events within communities, including crime. Prior work suggests that exposure to media related to crime can have a biasing effect on people's perceptions of actual crime rates, likely because of the availability heuristic. In two studies (N = 799), we investigated how neighborhood app use impacts perceptions of local crime rates. Participants reported whether they used neighborhood apps or not, and made judgments about local crime rates. As predicted, participants who reported using neighborhood apps perceived local crime rates as higher than those who do not use the apps, independent of actual crime rates. These results have important implications for theory and application.

Institutions and incarceration: The role of economic freedom at the MSA level
John Dove & Laura Dove
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming 

Method: We use economic freedom data at the metropolitan statistical area unit and local incarceration data from the Vera Institute in 5-year intervals from 1977 through 2017.

Results: Our evidence suggests that greater economic freedom is associated with lower rates of incarceration in jails for the overall population. The channel tends to be through both the first and second economic freedom components (“size of government” and “taxation,” respectively). Finally, the results for juvenile incarcerated populations are largely driven by labor market freedoms.

Licensed firearm dealers, legal compliance, and local homicide: A case study
Richard Stansfield et al.
Criminology & Public Policy, forthcoming 


This study uses a combination of tract-level and street network-level analyses to examine: (1) the overall association between federally licensed firearm dealers (FFLs) and homicides, (2) the relationship between dealers with serious violations (such as selling to prohibited buyers or failing to record sales) and homicide, and (3) whether the dealer–homicide association is moderated by community disadvantage. Results replicate and confirm a relationship between dealers and homicides in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Importantly, however, we also find that proximity to noncompliant dealers specifically elevates the risk of lethal violence.

Mapping Real-World Use of the Onion Router
Adam Ghazi-Tehrani
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, forthcoming 


Since its inception, The Onion Router (TOR) has been discussed as an anonymizing tool used for nefarious purposes. Past scholarship has focused on publicly available lists of onion URLs containing illicit or illegal content. The current study is an attempt to move past these surface-level explanations and into a discussion of actual use data; a multi-tiered system to identify real-world TOR traffic was developed for the task. The researcher configured and deployed a fully functioning TOR “exit” node for public use. A Wireshark instance was placed between the node and the “naked” internet to collect usage data (destination URLs, length of visit, etc.), but not to deanonymize or otherwise unmask TOR users. For 6 months, the node ran and collected data 24 hr per day, which produced a data set of over 4.5 terabytes. Using Python, the researcher developed a custom tool to filter the URLs into human-readable form and to produce descriptive data. All URLs were coded and categorized into a variety of classifications, including e-commerce, banking, social networking, pornography, and cryptocurrency. Findings reveal that most TOR usage is rather benign, with users spending much more time on social networking and e-commerce sites than on those with illegal drug or pornographic content. Likewise, visits to legal sites vastly outnumber visits to illegal ones. Although most URLs collected were for English-language websites, there were a sizable amount for Russian and Chinese sites, which may demonstrate the utilization of TOR in countries where internet access is censored or monitored by government actors. Akin to other new technologies which have earned bad reputations, such as file-sharing program BitTorrent and intellectual property theft or cryptocurrency Bitcoin and online drug sales, this study demonstrates that TOR is utilized by offenders and non-offenders alike.

In the Name of Dark Web Justice: A Crime Script Analysis of Hacking Services and the Underground Justice System
Kyung-Shick Choi & Claire Seungeun Lee
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, forthcoming 


The Dark Web serves as a key venue for peddling illegal goods and services, from stolen possessions and drugs to illicit activities. The concurrent increase in Tor network usage and the development of cryptocurrency has led to the creation of major black market sites. One of the most popular illicit services offered on the Dark Web is hacking, which includes website/social media account hacking, Denial-of-service attacks, and custom malware. At the same time, the Dark Web community has formed its own justice system leveraging the layer of anonymity that exists between underground community users and the cybercrime ecosystem. Existing studies predominantly focus on the major drug market operating on the Dark Web, firearm sales, sexual exploitation, and money laundering. To address the gaps in the current research as well as the relative nascency of an underground justice system to monitor hacking services on the Dark Web, this study attempts to broadly capture the dynamic nature of hacking services, which requires continuous research to identify new trends and develop effective responses. The study aims to examine the characteristics and the operations of the hacking service market and the underground justice system on the Dark Web via an in-depth examination of Dark Web forums with a crime script analysis vis-à-vis thematic analysis. The study defines the crime script as that which includes pretrial, mid-trial, finalization, and exit stages. This research sheds light on Dark Web justice courts’ procedures and the courts’ implications for shaping the future of the Dark Web.

The Material of Policing: Budgets, Personnel and the United States’ Misdemeanour Arrest Decline
Brenden Beck et al.
British Journal of Criminology, March 2023, Pages 330–347 


What accounts for the steady decline in misdemeanour arrest rates in the United States following their peak in the mid-1990s? This article links the fluctuation in low-level law enforcement to changes in the budget and staffing resources cities devoted to policing. This materialist explanation contrasts with accounts that emphasize policy changes like the adoption of community policing. Dynamic panel regression analyses of 940 municipalities indicate low-level arrest rates declined most in places that reduced their police expenditure and personnel, net of crime and other controls. The adoption of community policing was unrelated to misdemeanour arrests. Findings suggest lawmakers should consider how increasing police budgets or police force sizes will likely be accompanied by increases in misdemeanour arrests and their attendant harms.


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