5 Things You Need to Know About Hot Spots Policing & The “Koper Curve” Theory

The Police Foundation has released “Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 3.05.55 PM_05 Things You Need to Know about Hot Spots Policing and the “Koper Curve” Theory,” providing a quick resource on how to get the most out of enforcement resources in crime hot spots.

The latest addition to the Police Foundations “5 Things” series outlines an introduction to the “Koper Curve” Theory, which measured the effectiveness of increasing patrols in a crime hot spots. Developed by Dr. Chris Koper, a member of the Police Foundation Research Advisory Committee, the Koper Curve offers useful guidance for law enforcement administrators dealing with patrol allocation and crime reduction.

“Hot spots” policing has been found to be a highly effective policing strategy and has been adopted by a large number of departments.  Dr. David Weisburd, chairman of the Police Foundation Research Advisory Committee, pointed out in a 2008 Ideas in American Policing that this form of “place-based policing” allows police to focus on a secure location in fighting crime, rather than follow the movements of individual criminals. Weisburd and others have found that a substantial amount of crime in a jurisdiction is produced in a few small areas (i.e., streets segments or blocks).  In some cases, as much as 50% of calls for service or incidents of crime in a jurisdiction can be found in less than 5% of places (i.e., street segments or blocks) (Telep, C. & Weisburd, D., 2011).

However, while police patrols of high-crime areas may generally have a positive effect on crime, police leaders can maximize crime reduction, reduce costs and increase community satisfaction and legitimacy by using the “Koper Curve” theory to guide patrol deployment in a strategic, evidence-based way.  The Koper Curve is an outcome of the Minneapolis Hot Spots Policing Experiment, replicated and tested in the Sacramento Police Department’s hot spots policing experiment (Telep, C., Mitchell, R., & Weisburd, D., 2014).

In evaluating the results of the experiment, Koper found that police maximized their deterrent effect by increasing patrols in the crime hot spot for 10-16 minute intervals, conducted randomly every two hours. Continuing the increased patrols for more than 16 minutes at a time produced an increasingly less effective deterrent effect, Koper found. According to Koper (1995), the likelihood of crime or disorder within 30 minutes after a patrol visit was 15%; for stops of 10-16 minutes, the likelihood was reduced to 4%, causing deterrence to “peak.”

Combining hot spots policing using the Koper Curve with situational and problem-oriented policing strategies implemented by patrol officers and other units or officers can enhance policing effectiveness. This reduces crime not only in the hot spot, but also for the jurisdiction overall.  Thus, it is important for patrol and community policing units to engage the community using problem-solving approaches to eliminate conditions that may facilitate crime, including vacant properties, poor lighting, nuisance and public order offenses, and debris and graffiti.

“5 Things You Need to Know about Hot Spots Policing and the “Koper Curve” Theory” is available for download here.

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