Proactive Policing: Effects on Crime and Communities
“Proactive policing” refers to policing strategies that police organizations develop and implement with the intent to prevent and reduce crime. They differ from traditional reactive approaches in policing, which focus primarily on responding to crime once it has occurred and answering citizen requests for police service. The shift toward proactive policing began in the 1980s and 1990s, and today these strategies are used widely in the United States.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine were asked to assess the application and results of proactive policing strategies, their impacts on crime, the reaction of communities, whether they are being used in a legal fashion, and whether they are applied in a discriminatory manner. The National Academies appointed a committee of sociologists, criminologists, legal scholars, and law enforcement professionals to examine the evidence on these issues.
The committee’s report finds evidence that a number of proactive policing practices are successful in reducing crime and disorder, at least in the short term, and that most of these strategies do not harm communities’ attitudes toward police. However, the effects of proactive policing on other important outcomes, such as on the legality of police behavior and on racially biased behavior, are unclear because of gaps in research.
These are critical issues that must be addressed in future studies. Moreover, evidence on many proactive strategies is limited to near-term, localized impacts. Little is known about the strategies’ long-term effects on crime or other outcomes, and about whether and to what extent they will offer crime control benefits at a larger jurisdictional level, for example, across an entire precinct or city. Research is needed to understand those impacts as well.
Proactive Policing: Effects on Crime and Communities (Report Brief)
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