Cover: Community Policing and Crime

Community Policing and Crime

The Process and Impact of Problem-Solving in Oakland

Published Dec 10, 2008

by Jeremy M. Wilson, Amy G. Cox

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In response to rising crime and violence in the early 2000s, Oakland, California, voters passed the Violence Prevention and Public Safety Act of 2004. Commonly referred to as Measure Y, it is a 10-year, nearly $20 million annual investment aimed at reducing violence through community-policing, violence-prevention, and other programs. Building on the first-year assessment of the program's implementation, this report examines the progress and effectiveness of the Measure Y–funded problem-solving officer (PSO) program, which adds 63 new officers to the force and deploys PSOs to community-policing beats. The assessment relied on a Web-based survey of current PSOs, PSO deployment data, official statistics on violent and property crime in each beat, and semistructured interviews and focus groups with Oakland Police Department staff. The results show that, although there has been much progress in implementing the program since the first-year evaluation, the statistical evidence does not support an association between the PSO program and a reduction in property and violent crime. Although it is possible that the program is not effective, it could be that positive outcomes of the program could not be captured by the evaluation, that the program encourages the reporting of crimes that would otherwise go unreported, or that implementation challenges preclude the program's ability to be effective. Of note, there appears to be somewhat limited interaction between PSOs and the other community violence-prevention programs created by Measure Y.

This research was conducted jointly within RAND's Center on Quality Policing (CQP), which was established in 2006 as a part of RAND's Safety and Justice Program within RAND's Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment (ISE) research division, and the Berkeley Policy Associates (BPA), for the City of Oakland.

This report is part of the RAND technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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