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Controlling Drug and Disorder Problems: A Focus on Oakland's Beat Health Program

NCJ Number
Date Published
19 pages
Publication Series
A randomized field experiment assessed the relative impacts of a civil remedy program that was conducted by the Oakland, Calif., Police Department to control drug and disorder problems and restore order by focusing on the physical decay and management conditions of targeted commercial establishments, private homes, and rental properties.
Police in the Beat Health Program worked with teams of city agency representatives to inspect drug nuisance properties, coerce landowners to clean up blighted properties, post no-trespassing signs, enforce health and safety codes and municipal regulations, and initiate court proceedings against property owners who failed to comply with civil law citations. One hundred street blocks were randomly allocated to the experimental and control groups. During the evaluation period, the Beat Health Unit and the patrol division each targeted 50 places with drug and disorder problems. The program evaluation period went from late 1995 to early 1996. Results indicated that fairly simple and expedient civil remedies applied by police officers with help from municipal agencies are effective in reducing drug problems in the short run. The research also suggested that citizens can have an important role in controlling drug and disorder problems and that citizens who simply call the police may be less effective than residents and business owners who seek a solution based on group-based problem-solving activities. Findings also indicated the need to address several challenges in developing civil-remedy problem-solving initiatives. 33 references

Date Published: January 1, 1999