Understanding Everyday Police Proactivity and its Relationship with Crime

Xiaoyun Wu

Advisor: Christopher Koper, PhD, Department of Criminology, Law and Society

Committee Members: Cynthia Lum, Beidi Dong, Elizabeth Groff

Research Hall, #310
November 08, 2019, 02:00 PM to 04:00 PM


Research evidence suggests that proactive policing, when employed in a targeted fashion, can be effective in preventing crime without triggering the displacement of crime to nearby locations. For example, by targeting specific crime hot spots during high risk hours with intermittent and intensified patrol activities, police can effectively manage the risk of criminal and disorderly events. Our knowledge, however, is much more limited with regards to the realities of police proactivity in the everyday context (i.e., how officers are actually practicing proactive activities daily) and its relationship with crime. The scarcity of evidence is conditioned by difficulties in measuring daily proactive activities as well as methodological challenges of drawing inferences using correlation data that records police proactivity as it naturally occurs.

The current study contributes to the literature by answering two exploratory questions. First, what do proactive police patrol patterns and activities look like in practice, and how does officer proactivity respond to changes in crime at the micro geographic-temporal level? Second, how do changes in proactive patrol then affect crime at those levels, and more specifically, how is the deterrent effect conditioned by the characteristics and the measurement of proactive patrol activities? The study uses calls for service data and police location data generated by Automated Vehicle Locator (AVL) devices to present a more complete picture of everyday proactivity. Fixed effects models and the Generalized Methods of Moments techniques with time series panel data are employed to tease out the endogenous relationship between crime and police proactivity at micro spatio-time levels. In this process, issues related to the optimal practice of proactive patrol are explored.