(WAFB) - Are proactive policing tactics against minor offenses actually counter productive to preventing bigger, more serious crimes?
A new study published this week in Nature Human Behavior suggests that a reduction in the enforcement of minor violations may actually reduce more major crime complaints. These findings challenge some conventional thinking about the relationship between authority and compliance.
Throughout the last few decades, many proactive policing programs have been implemented across the country and are thought to discourage serious criminal activity. Baton Rouge has such a program, called BRAVE, which is designed to keep at-risk youth out of trouble. These such programs include patrolling communities, increasing police stops, and making some low-level arrests. How effective these programs are continues to be a topic of debate.
Some say these programs target low-income and minority neighborhoods in a discriminatory way.
In this particular study, LSU Department of Political Science Assistant Professor Christopher Sullivan and Zachary O'Keeffe, a University of Michigan Ph.D. student, gathered baseline crime data from the New York Police Department from 2013 to 2016. They examined a 7-week period in late 2014 and early 2015 when NYPD essentially stopped their proactive policing practices in response to anti-police brutality protests after the death of Eric Garner.
After examining this data, researchers have drawn some conclusions about the relationship between proactive policing strategies and major crime complaints. It appears that public complaints of major crimes (murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny, and grand theft auto) went down by 3 to 6 percent during the halt of proactive policing activities. The researchers note that under-reporting of crime did not bias the results.
"The results are striking. 'Order Maintenance Style' policing tactics have been shown to increase economic and political inequality, destabilize communities, and impair the mental health of young people. Finding that proactive policing may also be counter productive in deterring major crime suggests that it is time to reconsider where, how, and why proactive policing is deployed," said Sullivan.
The researchers suggest that certain proactive policing strategies may actually result in more serious criminal activity. They speculate that reforming proactive strategies may reduce major crimes and increase people's well being in more heavily policed communities. The researchers also say further research is of course needed to understand the long-term effects of a reduction in proactive policing and that more cities other than New York should be studied.
For more information on the study, click here.