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Policing Drug Hot Spots: The Jersey City Drug Market Analysis Experiment

NCJ Number
Date Published
David Weisburd, Lorraine Green
This paper reports the results of a randomized experimental evaluation of an innovative drug law enforcement strategy in Jersey City, NJ, developed as part of the Drug Market Analysis Program.
Using computer mapping techniques, the researchers identified 56 hot spots of drug activity that were randomized in statistical blocks to experimental and control conditions. The experimental strategy followed a stepwise approach that sought to engage business owners and citizens in crime control efforts, to apply pressure to reduce drug and drug-related activity through police crackdowns, and to initiate a maintenance program with the assistance of the police department's patrol division. In line with tactics employed by street-level narcotics units in other U.S. cities, the control strategy in Jersey City involved unsystematic arrest-oriented narcotics enforcement based on ad hoc target selection. Comparing 7-month pre/post intervention periods, the researchers found consistent and strong effects of the experimental strategy on disorder-related emergency calls for police service. Little evidence of displacement of crime control benefits to areas near experimental hot spots was observed. Data suggested a diffusion of benefits around the experimental location versus the control location. Data on selected characteristics of drug hot spots are appended. 47 references, 18 footnotes, and 5 tables
Date Created: December 17, 2008