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Modern Policing and the Control of Illegal Drugs: Testing New Strategies in Two American Cities

NCJ Number
Date Published
69 pages

Two drug control programs that combined various law enforcement strategies with community policing techniques were evaluated to determine their effectiveness and potential.


The programs were funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance starting in 1987 in Oakland (Calif.) and Birmingham (Ala). In each city, the police used special task forces for identifying and arresting drug traffickers. In both cities, specially trained officers engaged in undercover drug purchases and arrests. The police also conducted door-to-door surveys aimed at obtaining community support to control retail drug dealing on the street. Analyses of crime before and after the programs revealed that Oakland's special drug enforcement unit helped reduce violent crimes and burglaries, but not robberies, while the Birmingham effort decreased reported homicides, rape, assault, and robbery. Residents of the Oakland neighborhoods perceived that drug trafficking had become less of a problem as a result of the program, whereas the perceptions of Birmingham residents did not change. Findings supported the use of carefully supervised narcotics units to control street-level drug trafficking, the establishment of police substations, door-to-door contacts in areas of extensive crime and drug activity, and other measures. Tables, chapter notes, 8 references, and appended multivariate analyses

Date Published: January 1, 1992