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Demography, Police Behavior, and Deterrence

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 28 Issue: 1 Dated: (February 1990) Pages: 111-136
Date Published
26 pages
This paper presents a model of police response to changes in crime frequencies and a criminal response model characterizing the deterrent effect of police arrest behavior.
These models are estimated for data taken from police departments in the city of St. Louis. The underlying theoretical conception is that arrests constitute communication to criminals in general in addition to the specific deterrence achieved through the arrest itself. Disaggregation in both space and time enables identification of the statistical models through measurement rather than through statistical manipulation. The models are estimated for burglaries under varying demographic conditions and using data organized through aggregation in time (by weeks) and space (by census tracts). Under some demographic conditions, both police response and deterrent effects on criminal behavior are enhanced. Under other demographic conditions, these effects are suppressed. Enhancements and attentuations arising from specific demographic conditions for both the police response and criminal response models have a similar pattern, consistent with the underlying communication hypothesis. 7 tables, 65 references. (Author abstract)

Date Published: January 1, 1990