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Police stops to reduce crime: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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This paper provides a systematic review and meta-analysis of police stops implemented for crime reduction.


This systematic review and meta-analysis of police-initiated pedestrian stops found indications of favorable effects of pedestrian stop interventions on place-based crime and displacement outcomes, but evidence of negative individual-level effects makes it difficult to recommend the use of these tactics over alternative policing interventions. Recent systematic reviews of hot spots policing and problem-oriented policing approaches indicate a more robust evidence-base and generally larger crime reduction effects than those presented here, often without the associated backfire effects on individual health, attitudes, and behavior. Future research should examine whether police agencies can mitigate the negative effects of pedestrian stops through a focus on officer behavior during these encounters. The authors used the Global Policing Database to search for published and unpublished evaluations of pedestrian stop interventions through December 2019. This overarching search was supplemented by additional searches of academic databases, gray literature sources, and correspondence with subject-matter experts to capture eligible studies through December 2021. The researchers adopted standard methodological procedures expected by the Campbell Collaboration. The authors also conducted sensitivity analyses for several outcome measures using robust variance estimation. Risk of bias was assessed using items adapted from the Cochrane tools. No eligible studies were identified measuring violence in police-citizen encounters or officer misbehavior. While eligible studies were often considered to be at moderate to high risk of bias toward control groups, no significant differences based on methodological rigor were observed. Moderator analyses also indicated that the negative individual-level effects of pedestrian stops may be more pronounced for youth, and that significant differences in effect sizes may exist between US and European studies. However, these moderator analyses were limited by a small number of studies in each comparison, and the researchers were unable to compare the effects of police stops across racial groupings. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2023