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Policing Crime Guns (From Evaluating Gun Policy: Effects on Crime and Violence, P 217-250, 2003, Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig, eds. -- See NCJ-203338)

NCJ Number
Jacqueline Cohen; Jens Ludwig
Date Published
34 pages
This paper presents evidence on the effects of police programs against illegal gun carrying by drawing on data from the Pittsburgh, PA Policing program.
In examining how to prevent young men from shooting one another, one answer is to increase the risks of carrying guns illegally through stepped-up police enforcement. Targeted patrols, it is hoped, will deter high-risk people from carrying or misusing guns in public places. The 1998 Pittsburgh Policing program is unique in that police patrols were launched on some days of the week but not others. It also offers a unique opportunity to isolate the impact of the police patrols from the effects of other confounding factors that cause crime rates to vary across areas and over time. This chapter focuses on outcome measures that capture illegal gun carrying and criminal misuse in Pittsburgh, PA, specifically the Firearm Suppression Patrol (FSP) program. The data were obtained on shots fired coming from Pittsburgh’s 911 Emergency Operations Center and include information about the date, time, and address of the reported incident. The central finding is that the Pittsburgh FSP's appear to substantially reduce citizen reports of shots fired and gunshot injuries in the targeted neighborhoods. The estimates suggest that Pittsburgh’s targeted policing program against illegal gun carrying may have reduced shots fired by 34 percent and gunshot injuries by as much as 71 percent in the targeted areas. Because the Pittsburgh program targets police resources on the most costly violent crimes, those that involve firearms, the targeting seems to enhance the cost effectiveness of the additional police resources. Pittsburgh’s experience suggests that targeted patrols against illegal guns can be implemented in a way that addresses community concerns about intrusive policing. Tables, comments and references