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Reducing Firearms Violence Through Directed Police Patrol

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 1 Issue: 1 Dated: November 2001 Pages: 119-148
Date Published
November 2001
30 pages

This evaluation of a directed police patrol project found that this strategy had an impact on firearms crime in one of the target areas but not the other.


Directed patrol involves assigning officers to a particular area and freeing them from responding to calls for service so they can engage in proactive investigation and give attention to suspicious activities. Directed patrol is believed to be most promising as a crime-control tool when it targets high-crime geographic locations and hot spots of crime within high-crime locales. The most common strategy in a directed patrol effort is the use of traffic stops. A review of previous studies of directed patrol shows that directed police attention to high-crime areas or to specific crime types can produce crime reductions. There are sufficient contrary findings, however, to suggest that crime reductions are not the automatic outcome of increased enforcement activity. The current research used multiple data collection and analysis, including activity data recorded by the officers working directed patrol, Uniform Crime Report offense data, police incidence reports, and ride-along observations of directed patrol officers. The basic analytical strategy involved a pre-post, quasi-experimental design. The focus on firearms-related violent crime encompassed homicides, aggravated assault with a gun, armed robbery, and total gun crimes. Findings show that the directed patrol had an impact on firearms crime in one of the target areas but not the other. The results suggest that a specific deterrence strategy whereby the police used directed patrol to focus on suspicious activities and locations reduced violent gun crime. In contrast, a general deterrence strategy that focused on maximizing vehicle stops did not have an apparent effect. 7 tables and 36 references

Date Published: November 1, 2001