Fighting Crime in Philly–The Old-Fashioned Way

March 30, 2010

Research from Temple University’s Department of Criminal Justice was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s blog Percolator. Temple’s study, conducted in collaboration with the Philadelphia Police Department, showed that foot patrols reduced violent crime by 22 percent in some of the city’s most dangerous locations. According to researchers, even after accounting for displacement, there were 50 fewer violent crimes last summer in Philadelphia than there would have been without the foot patrols.

One thing that makes Temple’s study so unique, according to lead researcher Jerry Ratcliffe, is the level of collaboration with the police department. Temple’s graduate student/ researchers actually walked the beats with the officers for the study, which involved over 200 police officers.

Their findings may spark a revision in a long-held view of foot patrol–that it makes people feel good but doesn’t actually prevent crime.

To summarize, first professor Ratcliffe and his research team analyzed and mapped out the most violent street corners to identify the areas in greatest need of intervention.

Next foot patrols walked their beats for a three month period and the team then analyzed the crime rates. What they found–a 22 percent reduction in violent crime–shows that walking the beat works.

During the first phase of the project, researchers accompanied police on their beats. Now, in phase two, researchers are conducting interviews with officers to determined what types of interventions were most effective. For example, some officers engaged in considerable community-oriented work, speaking to community members and visiting child care centers and juvenile hangouts, while others were more crime oriented, stopping vehicles and conducting field interviews of pedestrians.

Here’s the research brief.

–Kim Fischer


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