General and Specific Displacement Effects of Police Crackdowns: Criminal Events and "Local" Criminals

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Geographically focused police crackdowns have widely diffused amongst larger American police departments in the past decade and have been recently cited in a Police Executive Research Forum survey as the most commonly used tactic to combat violent crime. Evidence from a number of randomized control trials, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses suggests that these interventions have the ability to reduce crime without displacing it to nearby locations. However, virtually every study of crime displacement in response to a geographically concentrated police intervention focuses on small buffer zones immediately surrounding the intervention location. While crime may not displace just around the corner, to date, few studies have tested displacement beyond this limited geographic constraint.

During the summer of 2011 the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington D.C. implemented a geographically focused arrest-driven police crackdown called the Summer Crime Initiative (SCI). The current work aims to examine the impact of the SCI on the volume and placement of robbery through a quasi-experimental research design. By developing a theoretically informed framework, a broader set of hypotheses regarding local and non-local crime displacement are tested. The results of this study confirm prior research on crime displacement. Despite reductions in robbery, there is no evidence that these offenses or offenders were displaced within or beyond two blocks of the intervention sites.