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Program Profile: High Point Drug Market Intervention

Evidence Rating: Effective - One study Effective - One study

Date: This profile was posted on July 29, 2014

Program Summary

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.

Program Description

Program Goals
The High Point Drug Market Intervention (DMI) is a series of place-based pulling lever interventions that were implemented in High-Point, N.C. Through identifying problem areas and key persistent offenders within these areas, the goal of the High Point DMI was to shut down open-air drug markets in targeted neighborhoods, while also reducing the violence associated with these drug markets.

Program Theory
The deterrence theory served as the foundation for the High Point DMI. Deterrence theory holds that humans are rational beings who consider the consequences of their actions and are deterred from engaging in continual patterns of offending as a result of the certainty, severity, and celerity of punishment. In pulling levers initiatives, police officers target high-risk offenders, using specific sanctions as leverage to obtain compliance and reduce the risk of future offending. It is believed that these deterrence-based policing approaches, coupled with proactive policing, have the potential to reduce violence and other disruptive behaviors in an urban environment (Corsaro, Hunt, Hipple and McGarrell 2012).

Program Components
In an effort to eliminate drug markets and reduce the violence associated with overt drug markets, the High Point DMI included three phases: identification phase, notification phase, and resource delivery. During the identification phase, high-density crime areas that had a strong prevalence of drugs were identified through mapping drug arrests, calls for service, reviewing serious crimes in hot spots to determine a drug connection, and finally analyzing information from various criminal justice agencies (Kennedy and Wong 2012). This allowed the Police Department to identify the West End, Daniel Brooks, Southside, and East Central neighborhoods. Once these areas were identified, the police worked with the community, narcotic investigators, probation officers, and parole officers to add additional surveillance in the areas and began carefully identifying dealers in these neighborhoods. Further, the police reviewed every report associated with potential dealers and their known associates. Once these potential individuals were identified, the Police Department checked their current activities and generated an initial list. From this list, police made cases against each individual by using undercover officers or confidential informants who made purchases from these individuals that were recorded by digital audio and video surveillance.

After areas and key offenders were identified the intervention moved into the second phase, the notification phase. During the notification phase, collaboration between agencies and community groups was central to changing the communities’ perceptions and norms. In the case of offenders who commit nonviolent and nonfelony offenses, identified offenders were invited to a ‘call in’ community notification session where key police and prosecution officials notified such offenders of the sanctions that were available to criminal justice personnel.  Additionally, community members spoke to the offenders regarding the need for community change and desistance from future offending.

The final stage, resource delivery, consisted of law enforcement speaking with offenders and offenders completing a needs assessment. The law enforcement officers would inform offenders that if they continued dealing they would be arrested immediately; however, if they chose to stop moving forward no punitive action would be taken against them. This let offenders know the consequences and know that their chances of being arrested were far greater than they had previously thought. Offenders completed a needs assessment so they could be matched with services in the community for extensive follow-up to assist them in their efforts to stop dealing. Offenders received services such as education, housing, employment, food and clothing, drug and alcohol treatment, and transportation through agencies and volunteer groups in the community. Finally, the resource delivery phase aided in the police community relationship and increased the perception of procedural justice.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Violent Incidents
Corsaro and colleagues (2012) found that the High Point (N.C.) Drug Market Intervention had a statistically significant impact on reducing violent incidents in the target areas. Targeted census blocks (treatment group) experienced a 7.9 percent decrease in violence, while the comparison blocks experienced a 7.8 percent increase in violence.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
To analyze the impact of the various place-based pulling levers interventions that were implemented in High Point, N.C., Corsaro and colleagues (2012) used a quasi-experimental design, with a treatment group consisting of 1,705 census blocks that were the target of the intervention. The comparison group consisted of 218 census blocks in other areas of High Point that were not the focal point of the intervention. Propensity score matching was used to ensure that the comparison areas were comparable to the treatment blocks.

Official incident data from the High Point Police Department between 1998 and 2008 was used to determine the level of crime in the various geographical contexts. This timeframe was chosen to measure crime rates preintervention and postintervention. The intervention was implemented in the various neighborhoods in staggering years: in the West End during 2004, in Daniel Brooks during 2005, in Southside during 2006, and in East Central during 2007. Census blocks were chosen as the unit of analysis because of research suggesting that drug markets often extend across several streets at a time. Moreover, given that the intervention was directed at specific areas within the city (high-crime areas), it was possible to identify those boundaries.

Overall, through a difference-in-difference panel regression design, the evaluation examined whether the change in violence in the target areas was significantly different than the change in the comparison areas between preintervention and postintervention.
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There is no cost information available for this program.
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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
Corsaro, Nicholas, Eleazer D. Hunt, Natalie Kroovand Hipple, Edmund F. McGarrell. 2012. “The Impact of Drug Market Pulling Levers Policing on Neighborhood Violence: An Evaluation of the High Point Drug Market Intervention.” Criminology and Public Policy 11(2):167-99.
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Additional References

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

Hipple, Natalie Kroovand, Nicholas Corsaro, and Edmund F. McGarrell. 2010. The High Point Drug Market Initiative: A Process and Impact Assessment: Project Safe Neighborhoods Case Study #12. East Lansing, Mich.: School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University. (This study was reviewed but did not meet criteria for inclusion in the overall program rating.)

Kennedy, David M., and Sue–Lin Wong. 2012. The High Point Drug Market Intervention Strategy. New York, N.Y.: Center for Crime Prevention and Control, John Kay College of Criminal Justice.
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Related Practices

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Following are practices that are related to this program:

Hot Spots Policing
Used by many U.S. police departments, hot spots policing strategies focus on small geographic areas or places, usually in urban settings, where crime is concentrated. The practice is rated Effective. The analysis suggests that hot spots policing efforts that rely on problem-oriented policing strategies generate larger crime reduction effects than those that apply traditional policing strategies in crime hot spots.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types

Focused Deterrence Strategies
Problem-oriented policing strategies that follow the core principles of deterrence theory. The practice is rated Promising. The evaluation found that focused deterrence strategies (also referred to as “pulling levers" policing) can reduce crime.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types

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

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): High Crime Neighborhoods/Hot Spots

Program Type: Community and Problem Oriented Policing, Community Crime Prevention , Violence Prevention, Specific deterrence

Targeted Population: Serious/Violent Offender, Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Offenders, High Risk Offenders

Current Program Status: Active

Dr. Nicholas Corsaro
Assistant Professor
University of Cincinnati, School of Criminal Justice
637 Dyer Hall, Clifton Avenue, P.O. Box 210389
Cincinnati OH 45221

Dr. Edmund McGarrell
Director, School of Criminal Justice
Michigan State University
560 Baker Hall
East Lansing MI 48824-1118
Phone: 517.355.2192