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Book Chapter

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This chapter discusses the essential role that the police have in deterring and reducing crimes, particularly the most violent and costly ones to society, such as murder. We begin by providing a brief overview of deterrence theory before discussing the empirical evidence on the efficacy of police staffing and various policing strategies on crime reduction. Using a framework developed in Weisburd and Eck (2004), we quickly evaluate the model of standard policing and then mainly focus on evidence behind three current policing practices: hot spots, problem- oriented, and proactive. Finally, we use the empirical evidence of police staffing to provide a basis for a theoretical model on the optimal level of policing. Using the Chalfin and McCrary (2017b) framework, we discuss how one could estimate how much crime could be reduced if additional funds were directed to hire more law enforcement officers, and if crime reduction were the sole policing objective, how many cities are in fact underpoliced. We conclude by postulating whether we could implement additional policing without resulting in unwarranted and excessive social costs for the community as discussed by Manski and Nagin (2017).


Law | Law Enforcement and Corrections | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance


This material has been published in "The Cambridge Handbook of Policing in the United States", edited by Tamara Rice Lave & Eric J. Miller. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use.