Sunday, July 20, 2008

Will gas prices change policing practices?

As gasoline soars past the $4-a-gallon mark, police chiefs in towns and cities across the country are ordering their officers out of the car and onto their feet in a budgetary scramble.


Carl Klockers once wrote that having police riding around looking for crime is about as effective as having fireman riding around looking for fires. His statement was based on his observations and the evidence from the Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment. In 1972, researchers found that increasing or decreasing uniform police patrol had no impact on reported crime and citizen sense of safety.

So why do many agencies still deploy their resources in the same ineffective way? Why has it taken an increase in the price of gas (and other operating costs) to get some of the police to change their ineffective practices?

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