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Program Profile: Rockford Pulling Levers Drug Market Intervention

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on March 23, 2015

Program Summary

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.

Program Description

Program Goals
The Rockford (Ill.) Pulling Levers Drug Market Intervention is a problem-oriented policing strategy used by the Rockford Police Department (RPD) to combat open-air drug markets and related offending in Delancey Heights, a high-crime neighborhood. The ultimate goal of the intervention is to reduce criminal offending, interrupt open-air drug markets, and make the high-crime community more inhabitable. The RPD uses a focused-deterrence strategy, sometimes referred to as a “pulling levers” approach.

Pulling levers consists of several steps, including diagnosing a specific crime problem, organizing an interagency working group of criminal justice personnel, conducting research to identify the crime patterns of chronic offenders and their criminal networks, responding to law violators with a variety of sanctions as a coercive approach to stop their illegal behavior, providing targeted offenders with social services and community resources, and directly and continuously communicating with offenders so that they understand they are receiving special attention.

Program Theory
The deterrence theory serves as the foundation for the Rockford Pulling Levers Drug Market Intervention. 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
The Rockford Pulling Levers Drug Market Intervention included three stages: identification, notification, and resource delivery. The identification stage was a data-driven analysis used by the RPD to determine the appropriate neighborhood and individuals to target. The notification stage consisted of a targeted investigation that lasted several months, which resulted in the arrest and prosecution of chronic, violent offenders in the target neighborhood. Suspected offenders were also identified during the targeted investigation and were invited to a “call-in” meeting along with their families, key criminal- justice personnel, and community members. During this meeting, community members spoke of the harm caused by drug dealing, and offenders were informed that their actions would no longer be tolerated. 

Finally, the resource delivery stage included support mechanisms for the offender and community improvements for the Delancey Heights neighborhood. During this stage, an offender-needs assessment was conducted by social support services, which was followed by a more detailed assessment in subsequent weeks. All offenders were provided positive support mechanisms that were specific to their situations. Furthermore, in an effort to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood, RPD and housing inspectors seized houses where drug dealing was known to occur. Those who did not participate in the drug dealing were moved to new homes. Additionally, to indicate a change in the neighborhood, routine patrols were conducted by the RPD, streets were cleaned by a street sweeper, and citations were given for lawn, trash, and poor fencing violators. Overall, community source officers and community leaders worked together to ensure everyone was informed of community issues (Corsaro, Brunson, and McGarrell 2009).

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Overall, Corsaro and colleagues (2009) found that the Rockford Pulling Levers Drug Market Intervention impacted nonviolent crime in the target area (Delancey Heights) compared with the rest of the city, but did not have an impact on violent crime.

Nonviolent Offenses
Nonviolent offenses in the target area declined at a greater rate than nonviolent offenses in the remainder of the city following the intervention (24 percent in the target area versus 9 percent in the remainder of the city); this difference was statistically significant.

Violent Offenses
Violent crime in the target area declined at a greater rate postintervention compared with violent crime in the remainder of the city of Rockford (14 percent in the target area versus 2.3 percent in the remainder of the city); however, this difference was not statistically significant. 
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Corsaro and colleagues (2009) used a time-series analysis to measure the impact of the Rockford (Ill.) Pulling Levers Drug Market Intervention on violent and nonviolent offenses. The target neighborhood, Delancey Heights, was compared with the larger city of Rockford, once the target area was subtracted from the city total for comparison purposes. Offense data was gathered from the Rockford Police Department (RPD), and included all crimes reported over a 2-year period (June 2006 through June 2008). The crime data measured violent and nonviolent offenses that occurred during each month. Violent offenses included murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, kidnapping, abduction, unlawful restraint, robbery, and simple and aggravated assaults. Nonviolent offenses included stolen property, destruction of property, vandalism, drug/narcotic violations, drug equipment violations, prostitution, violation of curfew, vagrancy and loitering, and disorderly conduct.

Given that the RPD implemented the intervention during the month of May 2007 (i.e., arrested a number of violent offenders involved in open-air drug trafficking, conducted the pulling levers notification meetings, and worked with community development officers to improve neighborhood conditions), this month was used as the postintervention date. As a result, the preintervention data included 11 months and the postintervention data included 14 months.

Due to the differences in pre- and postintervention periods, the average percent change in the number of offenses per month across the city was calculated. These percentage differences were then examined for violent and nonviolent offenses for the target neighborhood (Delancey Heights) compared with the remainder of Rockford. 
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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Other Information

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To investigate residents’ perceptions of and experiences with crime and disorder in Delancey Heights prior to and following the initiative, the study authors conducted qualitative, in-depth interviews with 34 adults living in the area. Overall, the majority of study participants reported being very pleased with the intervention, noting reductions in crime and incivilities following the intervention.
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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, Rod K. Brunson, and Edmund F. McGarrell. 2009. “Problem-Oriented Policing and Open-Air Markets: Examining the Rockford Pulling Levers Deterrence Strategy.” Crime & Delinquency 59(7): 1085–1107. 

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Additional References

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

Corsaro, Nicholas, Eleazer D. Hunt, Natalie Kroovand Hipple, and 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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Related Practices

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Following are 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: White, Other

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): High Crime Neighborhoods/Hot Spots

Program Type: Community and Problem Oriented Policing, Violence Prevention, Alcohol and Drug Prevention, Hot Spots Policing, General deterrence, Specific deterrence

Targeted Population: High Risk Offenders

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Campbell Collaboration

Program Developer:
Chet Epperson
Rockford Police Department
420 W. State Street
Rockford IL 61101
Phone: 815.987.5839

Nicholas Corsaro
Assistant Professor
University of Cincinnati, College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services
P.O. Box 210003, University of Cincinnati, Box 5323B RECCENTER
Cincinnati OH 45221
Phone: 513.556.1967