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Problem-Oriented Policing in Public Housing: Identifying the Distribution of Problem Places

NCJ Number
Policing Volume: 20 Issue: 2 Dated: (1997) Pages: 235-255
Date Published
21 pages

This study analyzed crime and disorder problems in 6 housing projects in Jersey City, New Jersey; 5 of the 6 projects ranked in the worst 10 street segments of Jersey City with high levels of drug and criminal activity.


All of the projects were opened during the 1950s, and each housed between 500 and 2,500 people. In 1993, the projects were the target of 881 arrests--40 percent for drug violations, 9 percent for assault, 2 percent for robbery, and 48 percent for other offenses. Of all persons arrested, 22 percent were under 18 years of age, 89 percent were male, and 78 percent were black. Delineating common areas in the projects was an important first step in identifying places within the projects where crime problems existed. Crime problems were unequally distributed across projects and within project common areas. Crime distribution patterns could be partially explained by type of common area. High-rise projects had a greater proportion of common areas with drug and crime problems than low-rise projects. Walkways and playgrounds were common areas contributing to drug problems, and parking lots and walkways were common areas contributing to disorder problems. Buildings, however, were the most frequently cited common area generating drug problems in all six projects. Problems identified most frequently by study team members included drugs, loitering, lewdness, and graffiti. Implications of the findings for future problem-solving efforts in public housing projects are discussed. 47 references, 13 notes, and 13 tables

Date Published: January 1, 1997