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Program Profile: Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS)

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on January 30, 2013

Program Summary

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.

Program Description

Program Goals
The Chicago (IL) Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) is a community-based program established to transform policing efforts into an efficient five-step process for law enforcement. The goal of CAPS is to solve neighborhood crime problems, rather than merely to react to their symptomatic consequences.

Target Sites
The program was developed by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) in 1993. The program began in five policing districts but expanded to encompass the entire city of Chicago after a testing phase. Program development included the collaborative efforts of each district’s commanders, senior department executives, and civilian planners.

Program Activities
Program activities consist of law enforcement’s concentrating more intensively on the community and on prevention, while rotating with other teams that handle lower-priority and rapid response calls.

A five-step process was created for CPD to implement CAPS. The process consists of 1) identifying and prioritizing problems, 2) analyzing problems, 3) strategizing designs to deal with problems, 4) implementing a plan, and 5) evaluating effectiveness. Meetings with law enforcement and community advisory committees happen on a monthly basis; extensive trainings with both groups occur regularly. Efficient use of city services and new technology also are components to help target crime in each area. For example, the Mayor’s Liquor License Commission, the Department of Streets and Sanitation, and the Department of Buildings collaborate to manage small crime before they become larger issues (CPD 1998).

Community commitment and involvement are another main component of CAPS. Civic education, media ads, billboards, brochures, festival booths, and rallies are being used to promote awareness of CAPS throughout Chicago neighborhoods.

Key Personnel
Law enforcement, community residents, local government, and assigned lieutenants from CPD are all important in implementing CAPS. Collaboratively, all parties are part of the identification, implementation, and resolution process.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Crime

Kim and Skogan (2003) found that 15 out of the 33 beats (45.5 percent) that received the Chicago (IL) Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) were considered successful cases. Of those 15 intervention beats with successful outcomes, 8 beats saw a decrease in crime, while the comparison beats saw increases in crime. The crime rates also decreased for six other intervention beats, while the crime in the comparison beats remained unchanged. Finally, one intervention beat had crime rates that remained unchanged, while the comparison beats saw an increase in crime.

The results also showed that there were some unsuccessful cases. For example, in 2 out of the 33 beats (6 percent) that received the CAPS intervention the crime rates actually increased, while the crime rates remained unchanged or decreased in the comparison beats.

Calls to 911
The researchers also found that when comparing the average number of 911 calls before and after the intervention, 13 out of 25 beats (52 percent) that received the CAPS intervention saw successful outcomes. Of the 13 intervention beats, 5 beats saw a decrease in crime rates, while the rates increased for the comparison beats. The crime rates also decreased for four other intervention beats but remained unchanged for the comparison beats. Finally, four intervention beats had crime rates that remained unchanged, while the rates increased for the comparison beats.

Again, the results showed that there were some unsuccessful cases. For example, in 3 out of the 25 beats (12 percent) that received the CAPS intervention the crime rates increased, while the rates remained unchanged for the comparison beats.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
The evaluation of the Chicago (IL) Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) by Kim and Skogan (2003) used a time-series analysis to test the effectiveness of the city-run program.

Crime data was aggregated from information on 3.9 million individual crime incidents that were reported to the police from January 1996 through June 2002 (78 months). The data on 911 calls was aggregated from 23.4 million calls to the city of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications from January 1999 through April 2002 (40 months). Data collection was broken into two data sets. For the first data set, the Chicago Police Department originally selected 74 geographical units; 37 beats were to receive CAPS, and 37 were to be used as comparison units. However, because of unavailable data, 66 units were examined; 33 received the CAPS intervention, and 33 were used as comparison units. The second data set of 911 calls consisted of 50 units; 25 beats received the CAPS intervention, and 25 were comparison units.

For each data set, there were nine possible configurations of comparisons—with three configurations being considered successful.

The following list presents the nine different configurations of comparison, with the successful configurations bolded. The three bolded configurations are considered successful because their outcome met the intended results of the CAPS program. For example, in configurations 1 and 2, crime decreased following the intervention and increased or remained unchanged in comparison areas that received no intervention. Configuration 4 shows that crime remained unchanged during implementation and increased in comparison.

  1. Decrease in crime on the beat and increased crime in the comparison
  2. Decrease in crime on the beat and unchanged crime in the comparison
  3. Decrease in crime on the beat and decreased crime in the comparison
  4. Unchanged crime on the beat and increased crime in the comparison
  5. Unchanged crime on the beat and unchanged crime in the comparison
  6. Unchanged crime on the beat and decreased crime in the comparison
  7. Increase in crime on the beat and increased crime in the comparison
  8. Increase in crime on the beat and unchanged crime in the comparison
  9. Increase in crime on the beat and decreased crime in the comparison
A Box–Jenkins Intervention Analysis was conducted for each time series. It distinguishes between gradual and immediate changes in crime, whether those changes were through June 2002, were temporary, or were permanent in nature, and whether trends in the study beats were unique or simply matched trends in similar areas of the city.
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Implementation Information

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Skogan and colleagues (2002) explain that implementation required police and neighborhood residents to be trained in handling problems using the following five-step process:
  1. Identify problems, and prioritize them incorporating community input.
  2. Analyze information about offenders, victims, and crime locations.
  3. Design strategies that address the chronic character of priority problems by thinking “outside the box” of traditional police enforcement tactics, using new resources that were developed by the city to support problem-solving efforts.
  4. Implement the strategies—a step that requires special skill and effort by the community, police, and other city departments as they attempt to put plans into actual motion.
  5. Evaluate effectiveness through self-assessments to determine how well the plan has been carried out and what good has been accomplished by it.
Additional information can be found in the 2002 report by Skogan and colleagues.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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

Study 1
Kim, So Young, and Wesley G. Skogan. 2003. Community Policing Working Paper 27: Statistical Analysis of Time series Data on Problem Solving. Chicago, Ill.: Illinois Criminal Justice Informational Authority.
http://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/faculty-experts/docs/policing_papers/caps27.pdf
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Additional References

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

Chicago (Ill.) Community Policing Evaluation Consortium. 2004a. “Community Policing in Chicago, Year 10: An Evaluation of Chicago’s Alternative Policing Strategy.” Chicago, Ill.: Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.
http://www.icjia.state.il.us/public/pdf/ProgEvalSummary/caps10.pdf

Chicago (Ill.) Community Policing Evaluation Consortium. 2004b. “Evaluation Summary.” Chicago, Ill.: Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.

City of Chicago, Ill. 1993. “Fact Sheet: The Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy.” Chicago Police Department.

(CPD) Chicago (Ill.) Police Department. 1998. “CAPS at 5: A Report on the Progress of Community Policing in Chicago.”
https://home.chicagopolice.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/CAPSat5.pdf

Lombardo, Robert M., and David E. Olson. 2010. “The Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy: A Reassessment of the CAPS Program.” Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management 33(4):596–606. (This study was reviewed but did not meet CrimeSolutions.gov criteria for inclusion in the overall program rating.)

Skogan, Wesley G. 1996. “Evaluating Problem-Solving Policing: The Chicago Experience.” Evanston, Ill.: Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University.

Skogan, Wesley G. 1998. “Community Policing in Chicago.” In Geoffrey Alpert and Alex R, Piquero (eds.). Community Policing: Contemporary Readings. Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press, Inc.

Skogan, Wesley G. 2005. “Evaluating Community Policing in Chicago.” In Kent R. Kerley (ed.). Policing and Program Evaluation. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. (This study was reviewed but did not meet CrimeSolutions.gov criteria for inclusion in the overall program rating.)

Skogan, Wesley G., Susan M. Hartnett, Jill DuBois, Jennifer T. Comey, Karla Twedt–Ball, and J. Erik Gudell. 2000. Public Involvement: Community Policing in Chicago. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice.
https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/179557.pdf

Skogan, Wesley G., Susan M. Hartnett, Jill DuBois, Jennifer T. Comey, Marianne Kaiser, and Justine H. Lovig. 2000. Problem Solving in Practice: Implementing Community Policing in Chicago. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice.
https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/179556.pdf

Skogan, Wesley G., Lynn Steiner, Jill DuBois, J. Erik Gudell, and Aimee Fagan. 2002. “Taking Stock: Community Policing in Chicago.” Evanston, Ill.: Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University.

Travis, Jeremy. 1995. “Community Policing in Chicago: Year 2.” Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice.
https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/chicago.pdf
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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Street-Level Drug Law Enforcement
This practice includes targeted-policing approaches for reducing drug and drug-related offenses. This practice is rated Promising in reducing reported, drug-related calls for services and offenses against persons. This practice is rated No Effects in reducing reported property offenses, public order calls for service, and total offenses.

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
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Program Snapshot

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Hispanic, White

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): High Crime Neighborhoods/Hot Spots

Program Type: Community and Problem Oriented Policing, Community Awareness/Mobilization, Community Crime Prevention , Situational Crime Prevention, Violence Prevention

Current Program Status: Active

Program Director:
CAPS Implementation Office
Chicago Police Department
3510 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago IL 60653
Phone: 312.747.9987
Website