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General Deterrent Effects of Police Patrol in Crime Hot Spots: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

April 1995

Lawrence W. Sherman, David Weisburd


This randomized controlled experiment looks at the effects of police-officer patrols in high crime “hot spots” in Minneapolis. Researchers identified 110 criminal hot spots in Minneapolis, and assigned half of them to a treatment group (receiving police patrols) and a control group (no patrols). Results show police patrols to be an effective deterrent of criminal activity.

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Policy Implications

The authors argue that, while patrols may not be an effective community-wide deterrent of criminal activity, when focused on “hot spots,” patrols do effectively reduced prevalence of criminal activity. Policies looking to reduce crime in localized high-crime areas may be well-served to increase patrols in that area.

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