The Impact of Police Activity on Crime

Robberies on the New York City Subway System

by Jan M. Chaiken, M. Lawless, K. A. Stevenson

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Abstract

Analyzes effects of police scheduling and manning on subway crime rates in New York City, for the period 1965-1971, with emphasis on robbery. In March 1965, when subway crime was climbing dramatically, Mayor Wagner ordered increased uniformed patrol between 8:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. Afterwards, the number of felonies decreased both during the hours of increased manning (a deterrent effect) and during the rest of the day (a phantom effect). Displacement of crime is analyzed via the relationship between subway and bus robberies. Robberies are focused on a small number of subway stations, located in areas with high surface crime rates. Stakeout techniques developed by detectives to arrest token booth robbers are effective but do not appear to deter crime. Report recommends deploying police to times and locations with high crime, while capitalizing on the phantom effect.

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