Cover: The Short- and Long-Run Effects of Private Law Enforcement

The Short- and Long-Run Effects of Private Law Enforcement

Evidence from University Police

Published in: The Journal of Law and Economics, Volume 59, Number 4 (November 2016), pages 889-912. doi: 10.1086/690732

Posted on Jun 30, 2017

by Paul Heaton, Priscillia Hunt, John MacDonald, Jessica Saunders

Over a million people in the United States are employed in private security and law enforcement, yet very little is known about the effects of private police on crime. The current study examines the relationship between a privately-funded university police force and crime in a large U.S. city. Following an expansion of the jurisdictional boundary of the private police force, we see no short-term change in crime. However, using a geographic regression discontinuity approach, we find large impacts of private police on public safety, with violent crime in particular decreasing. These contradictory results appear to be a consequence of delayed effect of private police on crime.

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