Risk-Focused Policing at Places

Drawing upon the risk and protective factors model and suggestions regarding the importance of places for understanding and targeting juvenile delinquency, the Redlands Police Department has developed a risk-focused policing approach to places (RFPP). Specifically, the Communities that Care Program (CTC) in Redlands used the risk and protective model developed by Hawkins and Catalano to identify census block groups where the risk of juvenile delinquency was high. The Redlands Police Department employed a problem-oriented policing approach to develop and implement strategies to reduce risk factors in these areas and reinforce protective factors. The program was aided by sophisticated crime mapping tools, which allowed the police department to draw from multiple data sources in defining the places for intervention, in analyzing problems, and in developing innovative solutions.

The Redlands Police Department implemented the program under experimental conditions for approximately two years. We used a matched block randomized experimental design to evaluate the effects of the Redlands RFPP approach on the reduction of delinquency and crime among 26 census block groups in the Redlands area. We used the CTC survey to assess baseline measures of risk and protective factors associated with delinquency in the summer of 2001, and post-treatment measures were taken during the summer of 2003.

Throughout the intervention period, the Redlands Police Department developed and implemented community- and problem-oriented policing strategies in the thirteen block groups that were randomly assigned to the treatment condition. Innovative treatments directed at juveniles were not administered to the thirteen control block groups. Using a hierarchical linear modeling approach, our experimental data suggest that the risk-focused policing program in Redlands did not consistently reduce problematic behavior or impact upon student perceptions of risk and protective factors. We also do not find a statistically significant impact upon student perceptions of legitimacy of police actions, though juveniles overall in Redlands had strongly positive attitudes toward the police.

Our findings appear to contradict recent reviews of police intervention at problem places, which have shown overall strong crime prevention benefits. There are a number of factors that might have led to the disappointing outcomes of the evaluation, including the level of geographic focus of the project and the nature of the interventions that characterized the treatment. We conclude that risk-focused policing at places should be focused on more micro units of place and have greater fit between problems and treatments if it is to have strong programmatic outcomes.

See Risk‐Focused Policing at Places: An Experimental Evaluation, David Weisburd, Nancy A. Morris, Justin Ready, Justice Quarterly, Vol. 25, Iss. 1, 2008