Kansas City Preventive Patrol Study
About The Experiment
This experiment started in October 1972 and continued throughout 1973. This was administered by the Kansas City Police Department and evaluated by the Police Foundation. Patrols were varied within 15 police beats. Routine patrol was eliminated in five beats, labeled “reactive” beats. Normal routine patrol was maintained in five “control” beats. Patrol was then increased by two times in five “proactive” beats.
This experiment asked the following questions: Would citizens notice any changes in the level of police patrol? Would different levels of visible patrol affect the number of crimes recorded or the outcomes of victim surveys? Would citizen fear of crime and attendant behavior change as a result of differing patrol levels? Last but not least, would their degree of satisfaction with police change?
The findings for this experiment were rather interesting. Citizens did not notice the difference when the level of patrol was changed. The most intriguing statistic was that the increased or decreased levels of patrol had no significant effect on resident and commercial burglaries, auto thefts and other crimes that are considered to be prevented by random, visible police patrol. Also, the rate at which crimes were reported to the police did not change in any important way across the experimental beats. The fear of crime was not affected, nor was citizen satisfaction with police.
These findings suggest that routine preventive patrol in police cars has very little value in preventing crime, as well as making citizens feel safe. The overall implication from this experiment is that resources originally used to preventive patrol could be used to help other crime control strategies.
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