In 1990 the National Institute of Justice introduced the Drug Market Analysis (DMA) Program, which sought to develop strategies for countering street-level drug distribution and associated disorder problems as well as to encourage the use of geographic data in crime analysis. The DMA Program aimed to systematically evaluate policing strategies and programs to form a solid research base for targeting street-level drug markets. Jersey City, N.J., was one of five DMA demonstration sites. The program was developed to reduce drug-related activities in numerous identified hot spots around Jersey City.
The program was developed for implementation in drug hot spots. Research suggests that geographic-specific narcotic crime clustering in specific urban locations can be targeted by law enforcement (Sherman, Gartin, and Buerger 1989). These street-level drug markets can be identified by the computer mapping of existing police records, emergency narcotic-related calls for service, and local officer intelligence. In the Jersey City experiment, these hot spots varied in size and in the nature of drug market activity. Some street-level drug markets incorporate activities in local premises such as bars or restaurants, and require the cooperation of local government agencies in their monitoring and in the enforcement process. Larger sites may require a significant number of officers to intervene in crackdowns.
This intervention consisted of three stages. The first stage, known as the “planning stage”, involved assignment of specific hot spots to individual responsible officers. These officers gathered intelligence, met with local businesses and residents, identified the specific areas within the hot spot to target, and drew up case files on the main individuals involved in local illicit drug sales. In the second stage, the “implementation stage”, the officers in charge coordinated the drug abatement to close down the local street-drug markets. This was done through an intensive crackdown on the hot spots, which varied in size and show of force depending on the geographic specificities, and could include the participation of other local government agencies (e.g., licensing, sanitation, buildings). In the final stage, the “maintenance stage”, the officers responsible maintained the gains made during the crackdown by monitoring the activity, alerting police patrol to intensify surveillance if necessary, and in larger sites coordinated foot patrols.
Violence and Property Offenses
Weisburd and Green (1995) found no significant differences between the experimental and control locations for the Drug Market Analysis Program on the number of emergency calls for violence and property offenses.
Significant reductions were found for disorder-related emergency calls in some measures in the experimental hot spots. Calls for all measures of disorder increased on average by 9.14 in treatment hot spots, compared with an average of 25.39 in control hotspots. Significant differences were found for calls relating to suspicious persons (a decrease of 0.11 calls in treatment and an increase of 5.96 calls in control hotspots) and “public morals” (a decrease of 2.14 in treatment and an increase of 0.89 calls in control hot spots); however, no differences were found for nuisance or assistance calls.
While narcotics-related calls decreased in the experimental hot spots and grew slightly in the control locations, the presence of strong outliers in the treatment group made establishing the significance of these differences unreliable. On average, narcotics-related calls for service fell by 5.18 calls in treatment hot spots and grew by 0.18 calls in areas assigned to the control condition. The authors suggest that one of the effects of the intervention was to encourage local residents to report narcotic offenses, which likely affected this outcome measure.
Significant effects were found in calls for services in experimental hot spots catchment areas for some measures. Treatment catchment areas had significantly fewer “public morals” and narcotics-related calls for service than the control catchment areas. There were no other significant differences in other measures (i.e., violence, property, nuisance, suspicious persons, and assistance).
In the 1995 Weisburd and Green study, the authors identified 56 “hot spots” of drug activity in Jersey City, NJ, using computer mapping techniques with narcotics-related arrest and emergency calls data. Randomization into “statistical blocks” was used to assign experimental and control conditions. The randomization by blocks was used to account for the significant variation in the quantity and nature of the drug trade at the different hot spots. Randomization took place within “blocks,” which are pairs or groups of similar hot spots, to ensure that comparison between intervention and control sites was viable. By analyzing the distribution of arrest and call activity of the 56 hot spots, the authors classified the sample into four categories of drug and call activity: very high (n=10), high (n=8), medium (n=26), and low activity (n=12). After block randomization, groups were equivalent by number of narcotics arrests and calls, mean age of narcotics suspects arrested, type of hot spot, proportion of African American residents, and proportion of minors living within the hot spot boundaries. The groups differed, however, on numerous measureable variables. For example, there were 17 cocaine hot spots in the experimental group but only 12 in the control group, and there were 7 West District hot spots in the experimental group and 14 in the control group.
Before the intervention, Jersey City operated a narcotics unit consisting of three teams of officers each with two squads. The squads were randomized to experimental and control conditions (one for each team), thus minimally affecting shift rosters. The two groups of officers were separated physically to avoid contamination through mimicking behavior, and were monitored daily through several sources. The officers assigned to the experimental condition implemented the Drug Market Analysis Program, while the officers assigned to the control hot spots maintained activities in line with the tactics used during the years leading up to the intervention. While this control condition maintained previous enforcement levels (arrest-based, unsystematic enforcement) officers in the three control squads were expected to concentrate on the activities of the 28 control hot spots specifically. Though the experimental strategy was supposed to last 12 months, this was extended to 15 months, because by the 9th month implementation in a majority of hot spots was shown to be progressing too slowly. Individual hot spot implementation plans were drawn up with the narcotics squad to ensure that the experimental strategy was extended to all target sites.
The effectiveness of the intervention was assessed by comparing the emergency calls for service of experimental and control hot spots in the 7 months before and the 7 months following the intervention, using two-tailed analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests.
There is no cost information available for this program.
Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:Study 1Weisburd, David L., and Lorraine A. Green. 1995. “Policing Drug Hot Spots: The Jersey City Drug Market Analysis Experiment.” Justice Quarterly 12(4):711–35.
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:
National Institute Justice. 1996. “Policing Drug Hot Spots.” Research Preview
. Washington, D.C.: Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/hotspot.pdf