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Program Profile: Indianapolis (Ind.) Directed Patrol

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on June 02, 2011

Program Summary

A policing program that uses a proactive directed patrol strategy to reduce firearms violence in Indianapolis, Indiana. The program is rated Promising. The effect on reducing firearms crime was seen in the North target beats, but not the East. Control police beats showed an increase in gun crimes, and in the remaining areas of Indianapolis homicides increased.

Program Description

Program Goals

The Indianapolis (Indiana) Directed Patrol program was designed after the Kansas City (MO) Gun Experiment of 1992–93, which used aggressive traffic enforcement to seize illegal weapons in a high-crime area. After the success of this experiment in seizing illegal firearms to reduce violent crime, the Indianapolis Police Department implemented its own version of the program in 1997.

 

The main goal of directed patrol was to reduce crime in Indianapolis, particularly violent firearm–related crimes, by increasing police presence in high-crime areas. This proactive approach allowed officers to concentrate on suspicious activities and high-risk offenders, and to provide a deterrent effect in high-crime areas. This would ultimately incapacitate dangerous offenders and remove illegal guns from the streets.

 

Target Sites

After an analysis of crime rates in different areas of Indianapolis, several police beats with high crime rates were selected as the target sites for directed police patrol.

 

Program Components/Key Personnel

During directed patrol, officers are relieved of the duty of responding to calls for service and instead assigned to a specific high-crime area to allow them to conduct proactive investigations of suspicious activities. Aggressive traffic enforcement and traffic stops are frequently used to investigate suspicious activities.

 

In the East District’s target police beats, traffic stops were increased to maximum levels to create a sense of increased police presence in order to provide a general deterrent effect. The police department also anticipated that these stops would result in numerous seizures of illegal weapons and drugs. Officers were trained to focus on traffic violations, such as speeding, the running of stop signs, expired license tags, broken tail lights, and other similar violations.

 

In the North District’s target police beats, traffic stops were used to target specific suspicious offenders and activities to provide a specific deterrent effect. The main focus was to arrest dangerous offenders and seize illegal weapons and drugs. A “targeted offender” approach was used, whereby officers targeted individuals suspected of being involved in illegal behavior. In another component of this specific deterrence strategy, officers paired up with probation officers to conduct home visits of offenders.

 

Collaboration between patrol officers and the research team was vital in implementing this program.

 

Program Theory

The theory behind directed police patrol is that increased police presence reduces criminal activity. If a general increase in the number of police has a negative impact on crime, then increasing the level of police in high-crime areas should produce even stronger crime-control results. Directed police patrol uses a proactive strategy of policing to prevent crimes from occurring, as opposed to a reactive strategy that makes arrests after a crime has already been committed.

 

To reduce crime, directed police patrol focuses on theories of deterrence, both general and specific, as well as incapacitation. The theory of general deterrence is that if police presence is increased, the likelihood that criminal activity will be detected is also increased. Therefore, the risks for committing crime are higher, and people are deterred from wrongdoing. The theory behind specific deterrence is that focusing on arresting and processing high-risk offenders in high-crime areas will deter these offenders from future wrongdoing. The theory of incapacitation is to remove dangerous offenders from the street, as well as to reduce the number of firearms that can end up in the hands of a dangerous offender.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1

Firearm-Related Crime in Target Areas

McGarrell and colleagues (2001) found that the Northern District target beats in Indianapolis, IN, showed the largest decrease in firearms crime after the directed patrol program was implemented. Crimes involving a firearm declined from 75 in the 1996 time period to 53 in the 1997 time period, a decrease of 29.3 percent. As for violent crime measures, homicides declined from 7 in 1996 to 1 in 1997; aggravated assaults with a gun declined from 40 in 1996 to 24 in 1997; and armed robberies declined from 31 in 1996 to 19 in 1997. The decline in aggravated assaults was found to be statistically significant in comparison to both citywide trends and comparison beats. The decline in armed robberies was found to be statistically significant in comparison to comparison beats.

 

The East District target beats showed increases in the number of gun crimes after the directed patrol program was implemented, with the exception of homicides. Gun crimes increased from 42 in the 1996 time period to 57 in the 1997 time period, an increase of 35.7 percent. As for violent crime measures, homicides declined from 4 in 1996 to 0 in 1997, aggravated assaults with a gun increased from 19 in 1996 to 30 in 1997, and armed robberies increased from 31 in 1996 to 36 in 1997.

 

The total number of gun crimes in both target areas combined showed a decrease from 117 in 1996 to 110 in 1997, a decrease of 6 percent. The effect on reducing firearms crime was seen in the North target beats, but not the East target beats. Both target areas saw a decline in homicides, however, and these declines were found to be statistically significant in comparison to citywide trends.

 

Firearm-Related Crime in Control Police Beats

The control beats showed an increase in gun crimes from 49 in the 1996 time period to 53 in the 1997 time period, an increase of 8.2 percent. As for violent crimes, the homicide level remained stable at 3 for both 1996 and 1997, aggravated assaults with a gun increased from 22 in 1996 to 48 in 1997, and armed robberies increased from 13 in 1996 to 21 in 1997.

 

Remaining Areas in Indianapolis

In the remaining areas of Indianapolis, homicides increased by 52.9 percent, from 17 in 1996 to 26 in 1997. Aggravated assaults with a gun increased by 20.7 percent, from 333 in 1996 to 402 in 1997. Armed robberies declined slightly by 5.1 percent, from 356 in 1996 to 338 in 1997. These trends indicate an overall increase in violent crimes in the remaining areas of Indianapolis in comparison to target areas.

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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1

McGarrell and colleagues (2001) used data from several sources and several techniques to analyze the impact of the directed patrol efforts on crime in Indianapolis, IN. First, a basic pre–post intervention time series analysis was used to compare changes in outcomes between a time period prior to the program’s implementation to a time period after the program’s implementation. The preintervention period selected was July 15 to October 15, 1996, and the postintervention period was July 15 to October 15, 1997. Using the same 90-day time period for both years allowed for a control of seasonal effects. Second, autoregressive integrated moving average time-series models were used to test whether changes in violent crime observed during the intervention period were significantly different from pre- and postintervention trends. Models were constructed for both target areas, the comparison area, and for the net citywide trend.

 

Data was obtained from recordings by the officers working directed patrol, the Uniform Crime Report (UCR), police incident reports, and ride-along observations of directed patrol officers. Citywide beat–level data was provided by the data processing unit for the following UCR offenses: homicide, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. Also provided was data for the subcategories of aggravated assault with a gun and armed robbery.

 

Four experimental police beats were selected to receive directed patrol: two beats in North Indianapolis and two beats in East Indianapolis. The beats were chosen using the Indianapolis Management Accountability Program (IMAP), a program based on New York (NY) Police Department’s Compstat program, which identifies areas with the highest amount of crime. The IMAP program identified these four beats as having the highest levels of violent crime, drug distribution, and property crime. Two beats with crime rates and demographic characteristics similar to the experimental beats were selected as the comparison sites.

 

In addition, crime rates were examined for the remaining areas of Indianapolis, excluding the four target beats. Information on which crimes involved a firearm was not obtained for the entire city; therefore, only trends in homicide, aggravated assault with a gun, and armed robbery were examined for this measure. The researchers examined trends in the comparison beats and in the rest of the city in order to provide additional tests of any effects within the target areas.

 

To evaluate the impact that the program had on crime rates, researchers examined trends in homicide, armed robbery, and aggravated assault with a gun. While most of these crimes involved a firearm, the homicide and armed robbery categories included some incidents that involved a weapon that was not a firearm. To account for this, the Indianapolis Police Department included a check-off box on its incident reports for an officer to indicate that a firearm was involved in a crime. This was not always a reliable indicator, however, as many officers failed to check the box in all relevant incidents. To ensure accuracy of reporting, the research team read every incident report from the four target beats and the two comparison beats and coded those that involved a firearm.

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Cost

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The budgeted cost for the police department was $120,000 to cover the overtime costs of officers working on this program. Based on estimated reductions in homicides and other offenses, the savings in societal costs more than offset the $120,000 allotted for the directed patrol effort. This benefit was especially apparent in the reduction in homicide, robbery, and aggravated assaults in the North target area. The cost–benefit estimate does not include other system costs for arrest, prosecution, and incarceration; revenue from traffic violation fees; nor the reduction in victim costs.
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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
McGarrell, Edmund, Steven Chermak, Alexander Weiss, and Jeremy Wilson. 2001. “Reducing Firearms Violence Through Directed Police Patrol.” Criminology & Public Policy 1(1):119–48
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Additional References

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

McGarrell, Edmund, Steven Chermak, Alexander Weiss. 2000. Reducing Firearms Violence Through Directed Police Patrol: Final Report on the Evaluation of the Indianapolis Police Department's Directed Patrol Project. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.
http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/194207.pdf

McGarrell, Edmund, Steven Chermak, Alexander Weiss. 2002. Reducing Gun Violence: Evaluation of the Indianapolis Police Department’s Directed Patrol Project. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.
http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/188740.pdf
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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated 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



Reducing Gun Violence
Reducing gun violence is a persistent public policy concern for communities, policymakers and leaders. To reduce gun violence, several strategies have been deployed including public health approaches (e.g., training and safe gun storage); gun buy-back programs; gun laws; and law enforcement strategies. The practice is rated Promising for reducing violent gun offenses.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Violent offenses
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Program Snapshot

Gender: Both

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): Other Community Setting, High Crime Neighborhoods/Hot Spots

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

Targeted Population: Serious/Violent Offender, High Risk Offenders

Current Program Status: Not Active

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

Researcher:
Jeremy Wilson
Professor, School of Criminal Justice
Michigan State University
560 Baker Hall
East Lansing MI 48824-1118
Phone: 517.353.9474
Website
Email