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Practice Profile

Street-Level Drug Law Enforcement

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:

Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Drug and alcohol offenses
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Violent offenses
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Property offenses
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Public order offenses
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types

Practice Description

Practice Goals/Practice Theory
Street-level drug law enforcement practices are policing strategies that aim to reduce or prevent illicit drug use, drug dealing, and associated problems at drug-dealing locations.

Policing strategies are sometimes thought of as falling into four categories: standard
policing, community policing, problem-oriented policing, and hot spots policing. These categories are based on the Weisburd and Eck (2004) conceptual model of law enforcement strategies, which classifies strategies based on the diversity of interventions used, and the level of focus. The diversity of interventions refers to the number of different approaches used to address the problem, including those carried out by the police as well as other partners who can play a key role in addressing community problems. For example, a problem-oriented–partnership-policing approach could include a law enforcement–housing services collaboration in which inspectors clean up problem areas and buildings in high-crime areas. Strategies that rely on a more diverse set of tactics are thought to be more effective than those that rely on a smaller number of tactics. The level of focus refers to the extent to which the police rely on generic approaches or those that are focused on certain people, places, times, or specific offense types. Focused interventions are thought to be more effective than more generic approaches. A visual representation of these two dimensions for classifying policing strategies can be found in Weisburd and Eck (2004, 45).

Practice Components
Standard policing approaches traditionally rely on unfocused strategies such as routine police patrols, calls for service, and arrests. Street-level, drug law enforcement strategies typically require greater diversity and focus; therefore, they generally fall within the three remaining categories: community-wide approaches, problem-oriented–partnership approaches, and hot spots policing. These approaches are classified as having low diversity of interventions and a low degree of focus.

Community-wide policing approaches include a diverse array of intervention tactics that rely on police–community stakeholder partnerships as well as partnerships between police and other service agencies. Intervention services are targeted at a broader neighborhood rather than to a specific high-crime area and seek to improve police–community relations, build neighborhood cohesion, and increase trust in police. Community members work with police to develop, implement, and maintain drug law enforcement activities in the neighborhood. These approaches are classified as having high diversity of interventions and a low degree of focus.

Hot spots policing involves traditional policing activities focused on hot spots of crime activity. Through this approach, law enforcement agencies can focus limited resources in areas where crime is most likely to occur. The appeal of focusing limited resources on a small number of high-crime areas is based on the belief that if crime can be prevented at these hot spots, then total crime across the city might also be reduced. Examples of tactics used are police raids on suspected drug houses, police crackdowns in high-crime areas, bust-buy operations, street sweeps, saturated patrol, curfew and truancy enforcement, and warrant servicing. These approaches are classified as having a low diversity of interventions and a high degree of focus.

Problem-oriented–partnership policing approaches focus on high-crime areas and rely on agencies and partnerships outside of law enforcement–such as housing and building inspectors, local businesses, and community members–to provide services in support of crime prevention. Examples of multiagency approaches include building inspection crackdowns at high-crime locations, collaborative efforts to improve problem areas, and drug market identification using geographic information-systems data. These types of strategies usually stress the importance of police efforts to analyze drug use activity and associated problems (such as disorder, violence, and fear of crime) and the use of partnerships and collaborations. These approaches are classified as having a high diversity of interventions and a high degree of focus.

Meta-Analysis Outcomes

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Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Drug and alcohol offenses
Mazerolle, Soole, and Rombouts (2006) examined the results from four studies and found that street-level, drug law enforcement practices had a significant impact on drug-related calls for service (odds ratio=1.33). This means that areas targeted by street-level, drug law enforcement strategies were less likely to report drug-related calls for service compared with comparison areas.
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Violent offenses
Mazerolle, Soole, and Rombouts (2006) examined the results from eight studies and found that street-level, drug law enforcement practices had a significant impact on offenses against persons (odds ratio=1.06). This means that targeted areas were less likely to have offenses committed against persons compared with comparison areas.
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Property offenses
Aggregating the results from seven studies, Mazerolle, Soole, and Rombouts (2006) found that street-level drug law enforcement practices had no significant impact on property offenses.
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Public order offenses
Aggregating the results from three studies, Mazerolle, Soole, and Rombouts (2006) found that street-level, drug law enforcement practices had no significant impact on public order calls for service.
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
Mazerolle, Soole, and Rombouts (2006) examined the results from five studies and found that street-level drug law enforcement practices had no significant impact on total offenses.
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Meta-Analysis Methodology

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Meta-Analysis Snapshot
 Literature Coverage DatesNumber of StudiesNumber of Study Participants
Meta-Analysis 11970 - 1999140

Meta-Analysis 1
Mazerolle, Soole, and Rombouts (2006) conducted a meta-analysis of street-level, law enforcement practices targeting street-level drug markets. The literature search included all available published and unpublished studies of policing interventions implemented to reduce or prevent illegal drug use, drug dealing, and the associated problems at drug-dealing places.

Studies were included in the meta-analysis if they targeted street-level drug problems, were police-led, reported changes in outcome measures by place rather than by person, were evaluated using pre–posttests with the comparison group, and had enough data to calculate an effect size. A total of 14 studies met these criteria.

Policing approaches analyzed in the studies were separated into three categories: hot spots policing (four studies), problem-oriented–partnership policing with a geographic focus (five studies), and community-wide policing (five studies). Three studies used random assignment to conditions, three studies used statistical-matching procedures, and the remaining eight studies used nonequivalent group designs. Comparison areas received unfocused law enforcement efforts. Four of the studies examined policing approaches implemented before 1990, six studies examined strategies implemented between 1990 and 1994, and four studies looked at strategies implemented between 1995 and 1999.

The authors reported effect sizes as odds ratios and conducted a random effects analysis. To measure the impact of street-level, drug law enforcement, the authors examined effects on drug-related calls for service, offenses against persons, property offenses, public-order-related calls for service, and on total offenses.
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this practice.
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Other Information

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Mazerolle, Soole, and Rombouts (2006) conducted additional tests—called moderator analyses—to examine the individual impacts of problem-oriented–partnership policing, community-wide policing, and hot spots policing on outcome measures. The authors found that there were no significant differences between the three street-level, drug law enforcement strategies when looking at offenses against persons and property crime. However, it appeared that the problem-oriented–partnership approach was more effective than the other two approaches in dealing with drug offenses, drug-related calls for service, and overall total offenses. Based on their review of street-level, law enforcement strategies, the authors concluded that collaborative, community-wide-policing efforts and building better law enforcement–community relations are more effective than enforcement-only approaches in dealing with drug and drug-related offenses.
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Evidence-Base (Meta-Analyses Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the practice profile:

Meta-Analysis 1
Mazerolle, Lorraine, David W. Soole, and Sacha Rombouts. 2006. "Street-level Drug Law Enforcement: A Meta-Analytical Review." Journal of Experimental Criminology 2(4):409–35.
http://www.inspectieloket.nl/Images/06 Street-Level Drug Law Enforcement_tcm296-282190.pdf
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the practice profile:

Mazerolle, Lorraine Green. 2005. A Systematic Review of Drug Law Enforcement Strategies. Canberra, Australia: Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre.
http://faculty.uml.edu/jbyrne/44.590/2005-02-mazerolle.pdf

Mazerolle, Lorraine, David W. Soole, and Sacha Rombouts. 2007. "Street-Level Drug Law Enforcement: A Meta-Analytic Review." Campbell Systematic Reviews 3(2).
http://www.campbellcollaboration.org/lib/project/25/

Weisburd, David, and John E. Eck. 2004. "What Can Police Do to Reduce Crime, Disorder, and Fear?" The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 593:43–65.
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Related Programs

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated programs that are related to this practice:

Minneapolis (MN) Hot Spots Experiment Effective - One study
A program that increased police presence in crime “hot spots” to reduce criminal activity in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The program is rated Effective. In hot spots that did not receive intensified police patrols, there was a greater increase in citizen calls to police than in the experimental locations. There also was less observed disorder at the experimental sites.

San Diego (Calif.) Drug Abatement Response Team (DART) Effective - One study
This program is designed to reduce drug dealing at residential rental properties by encouraging improved property management practices. The program is rated Effective. Properties that received the full intervention (letter from police department, meeting with police and code enforcement, and threatened nuisance abatement) experienced a significant reduction in crime at rental properties with drug problems and more drug offender evictions.

Nashville (Tenn.) Drug Market Intervention Promising - One study
A policing program that used community mobilization, strategic planning, and pulling levers notifications to reduce drug dealing in a high-crime area. The program is rated Promising. As a result of the intervention, postintervention drug crime incidents declined, and surveyed residents believed that street drug markets were less of an issue after implementation. There was no statistically significant evidence that the intervention impacted Type 1 UCR offenses or calls for service.

Specialized Multi Agency Response Team (SMART) Effective - One study
A drug-control program designed to reduce drug-related problems and improve habitation conditions at targeted sites. The program is rated Effective. Half the treatment sites experienced improvements in field contacts or arrests. There were reductions in the number of individuals contacted or arrested at the same SMART site; in the number of persons displaced to a catchment area address; and in the number of new individuals attracted to a site (suggesting a small net diffusion of benefits).

Kansas City (MO) Police Department Street Narcotics Unit Promising - One study
A special police unit developed to conduct raids of crack houses to reduce crack-related crime and improve public order in Kansas City, Missouri. The program is rated Promising. There were fewer calls for service and reported offenses for the experimental group. The Follow-up effects were sustained for both outcomes for about 2 weeks after the experiment ended.

Operation Safe Streets (Philadelphia, Pa.) Promising - One study
A problem-oriented policing program targeted at high-crime areas and drug corners to prevent violent and drug-related crime. The program is rated Promising. Localized analysis of the intervention areas found reductions in violent and drug crime rates. Analysis on the adjoining areas suggests the intervention caused some spatial diffusion of benefits for violent and drug crime displacement. There were no statistically significant effects on citywide homicides, violent or drug crime rates.

Weed and Seed (Miami, Fla.) No Effects - One study
This is a community-based approach to reducing and preventing crime while revitalizing the community. The program is rated No Effect. There was no significant reduction in violent offenses in the Liberty City treatment area after the crackdown, but reductions were observed in the control and displacement catchment (buffer) areas.

Dallas (Texas) Anti-Gang Initiative Promising - One study
A policing initiative that used intensive patrol and enforcement of curfew and truancy ordinances to reduce gang-related activity and violence among juveniles in Dallas, Texas. The program is rated Promising. There was a statistically significant decrease in violent gang-related offenses. There were no statistically significant reductions in gang-related offenses reported to police.

Hot Spots Policing (Lowell, Mass.) Effective - One study
A crime-reduction policing strategy that uses a disorder policing approach to concentrate on improving physical and social order in high-crime locations in Lowell, Mass. The program is rated Effective. There was a statistically significant reduction of the total number of calls for service in the treatment areas relative to the control. Observed disorder was alleviated and calls for service were not significantly displaced into surrounding treatment areas.

Hot Spots Policing (Jacksonville, FL) No Effects - One study
A geographically focused policing strategy intended to reduce violent crime in high-crime areas using problem-oriented policing and directed patrol techniques. The program is rated No Effects. There was a significant reduction in nondomestic violent crime (i.e., street violence) in hot spots that were assigned to the problem-oriented policing condition, but no significant reductions in violent crime, property crime, and calls for service.

Drug Market Analysis Program (Jersey City, NJ) Promising - One study
A "hot spots" policing program targeting identified drug activity locations to reduce public disorder by engaging local residents and business owners and applying pressure via crackdowns. The program is rated Promising. There was no significant difference between the experimental and control locations on violence and property offenses; but, there were reductions in disorder and narcotics offenses and fewer calls for service for some measures in the treatment catchment areas.

Problem-Oriented Policing in Violent Crime Places (Jersey City, NJ) Promising - One study
The program is a focused policing strategy intended to reduce violent crime in high-crime locations through the modification of specific characteristics and situations that promote violence. The program is rated Promising. The citizen calls for service were significantly reduced at three of the five treatment locations. Reported criminal incidents were significantly reduced at two of the treatment places. Social and physical disorder were alleviated 91 percent.

Police Foot Patrol–Philadelphia 2009 Effective - More than one study
This program used a foot patrol to reduce violent crime in hot spots in Philadelphia, Pa. It involved having rookie officers patrol areas (an average of 1.3 miles of streets) during two shifts per day. This program is rated Effective. There were significant reductions in reported violent crime, although the effect seemed to fade once officers were removed from their targeted beats.

Safe Street Teams (Boston, MA) Promising - One study
A place-based, problem-oriented policing strategy implemented by the Boston (Massachusetts) Police Department in response to a sudden increase in violent crimes. The program is rated Promising. The results showed that the intervention had significant reductions in total violent index crimes, robberies, and aggravated assaults over the 10-year study period; however, there were no significant reductions in homicides and sexual assaults.

Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) Promising - One study
The program brings police, local government agencies, and the community together to prioritize problems and prevention efforts in five Chicago neighborhoods. The program is rated Promising. The study found that in close to half of the target beats, there was a reduction in crime versus what was found in comparison beats. However, the results also showed that there were some unsuccessful cases where the crime rate in the intervention increased versus the comparison beat.

Operation Impact (Newark, New Jersey) Promising - One study
A saturation foot-patrol initiative implemented in Newark, New Jersey, in 2008. The program is rated Promising. The intervention reduced overall violence, aggravated assault, and shootings in the targeted area. Evidence for a reduction in murder rates was less clear and The initiative does not appear to have influenced the number of robberies.

High Point Drug Market Intervention Effective - One study
A problem-oriented policing program that aims to eliminate overt drug markets and the problems associated with them through a deterrence-based, pulling-levers framework. The program is rated Effective. The Intervention had a statistically significant impact on reducing violent incidents in the target areas.

Rockford Pulling Levers Drug Market Intervention Promising - One study
A problem-oriented policing strategy that aims to combat drug markets and the problems associated with them, in a high- crime neighborhood, through a deterrence-based, pulling levers framework. The program is rated Promising. The program was shown to significantly reduce nonviolent offenses in the target area, but not violent offenses.
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Practice Snapshot

Settings: High Crime Neighborhoods/Hot Spots

Practice Type: Alcohol and Drug Prevention, Community and Problem Oriented Policing, Community Awareness/Mobilization, General deterrence, Hot Spots Policing, Situational Crime Prevention, Specific deterrence, Violence Prevention, Weed and Seed Programs

Unit of Analysis: Places