Last week the Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Youth Justice published the report Coming of Age with Stop and Frisk: Experiences, Self-Perceptions, and Public Safety Implications. The report found that among roughly 500 young people surveyed in highly patrolled, high-crime areas of New York City, “trust in law enforcement and willingness to cooperate with police is alarmingly low.”
Such findings serve as a reminder that some benefits and costs are not easily monetized, such as the benefit of a community’s improved trust in the police department or the cost of that trust being compromised.
A page-one article in Saturday’s New York Times raised fascinating questions about what other jurisdictions can learn from New York City, where the police force expanded in the 1990s and both crime and incarceration have decreased since then. CBKB staff often field questions about whether the benefits of hiring more police officers outweigh the costs.
This post is part of our “Four questions” guest-blog series that highlights the people and organizations in the growing community of practice around cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and justice policymaking. We’re grateful to Michael Scott, director of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, for contributing to this series.
1. Could you tell us about your work and how it relates to CBA and justice?
This post is part of our “Four questions” guest blog series that highlights the people and organizations in the growing community of practice around cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and justice policymaking. We’re grateful to Paul Heaton, economist at the RAND Corporation, for contributing to this series. Heaton is the research director of RAND’s Institute for Civil Justice and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School.
Deterrence theory tells us that people obey the law because they fear the consequences of getting caught. Deterrence works, says Yale law professor Tracey Meares in a recent presentation to the National Institute of Justice, but it’s costly and contributes to a steady demand for more police officers to increase the odds that crime will be detected.
In 2007, local police department budgets in the United States totaled more than $55.4 billion. From 1982 to 2006, police expenditures outpaced spending on both the courts and corrections, growing at a rate of 8.6 percent each year, or 3.8 percent when controlling for inflation.
George Gascón, former chief of police and now district attorney of San Francisco, and Todd Foglesong, senior research associate at Harvard, examine the factors driving up police expenditures in Making Policing More Affordable: Managing Costs and Measuring Value in Policing.
Research tells us that crime is clustered in small areas, or hot spots, that account for disproportionate amounts of crime. In Minneapolis, for instance, three percent of the city’s addresses accounted for 50 percent of all calls for service, and in Jersey City, NJ, four percent of its streets and intersection areas generated nearly half of the city’s narcotics arrests.
Mark Bergstrom is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing. He is also an adviser to the Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit at the Vera Institute of Justice. Parts of this guest post were originally published in the February 2011 issue of Criminology and Public Policy.
In a recent paper in Criminology and Public Policy, Steven Durlauf and Daniel Nagin ask whether both imprisonment and crime can be reduced.
What’s the best way to deploy limited resources to prevent and control crime? Finding an answer to this question has become increasingly urgent in the field of policing. In a recent poll of more than 200 police departments by the Police Executive Research Forum, 63 percent of departments said they are preparing for cuts to their total funding for the next fiscal year.