CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Wheeler & Phillips on Reducing Crimes Using Roadblocks and Automatic License Plate Readers

Andrew Palmer Wheeler and Scott W. Phillips (John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety and State University of New York (SUNY) - Department of Criminal Justice) have posted A Quasi-Experimental Evaluation Using Roadblocks and Automatic License Plate Readers to Reduce Crime in Buffalo, NY on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness of a hot spots policing strategy: using automated license plate readers at roadblocks.

Design: Different roadblock locations were chosen by the Buffalo Police Department every day over a two month period. We use propensity score matching to identify a set of control locations based on prior counts of crime and demographic factors before the intervention took place. We then evaluate the reductions in Part 1 crimes, calls for service, and traffic accidents at roadblock locations compared to control locations.

Findings: We find modest reductions in Part 1 violent crimes (10 over all roadblock locations and over the two months) using t-tests of mean differences. We find a 20% reduction in traffic accidents using fixed effects negative binomial regression models. Both results are sensitive to the model used though, and the fixed effects models predict increases in crimes due to the intervention.

Research Limitations: The main limitations are the quasi-experimental nature of the intervention, the short length of the intervention, and that many micro places have low baseline counts of crime.

Originality/Value: This adds to literature on hot spots policing - in particular on the use of automated license plate readers and traffic enforcement at hot spots of crime. While the results are mixed, it provides some evidence that the intervention has potential to reduce crime.

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