Reducing proactive policing could reduce major crime

A new study suggests that reducing proactive policing efforts could lead to a reduction in major crime incidents.

Published in the Nature Human Behaviour journal this week, the study analyzed data gathered from the NYPD from 2013 to 2016.

“Analysing several years of unique data obtained from the NYPD, we find that civilian complaints of major crimes (such as burglary, felony assault and grand larceny) decreased during and shortly after sharp reductions in proactive policing,” wrote researchers Christopher Sullivan and Zachary O’Keeffe.

“The results challenge prevailing scholarship as well as conventional wisdom on authority and legal compliance, as they imply that aggressively enforcing minor legal statutes incites more severe criminal acts,” they said.

The conventional wisdom, they say, is that increasing police stops, quality-of-life summonses, and low-level arrests helps deter more serious criminal activity by showing the community that officers are monitoring the area and deviance won’t be tolerated. Additionally, a lack of proactive policing is thought to embolden criminals, leading to spikes in crime.


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