Did Ceasefire, Compstat, and Exile Reduce Homicide?

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Did Ceasefire, Compstat, and Exile Reduce Homicide?

Category: Firearm Policies, Homicide|Journal: Criminology & Public Policy (full text)|Author: E Baumer, R Fornango, R Rosenfeld|Year: 2005

Research Summary

Police officials across the United States often claimed credit for crime reductions during the 1990s. In this article, we examine homicide trends in three cities that mounted widely publicized policing interventions during the 1990s: Boston’s Operation Ceasefire, New York’s Compstat, and Richmond, Virginia’s Project Exile. Applying growth-curve analysis to data from the 95 largest U.S. cities and controlling for conditions known to be associated with violent crime rates, we find that New York’s homicide trend during the 1990s did not differ significantly from those of other large cities. We find some indication of a sharper homicide drop in Boston than elsewhere, but the small number of incidents precludes strong conclusions. By contrast, Richmond’s homicide reduction was significantly greater than the decline in other large cities after the implementation of Project Exile, which is consistent with claims of an intervention effect, although the effect may have been small.

Policy Implications

Criminologists gave police and other public officials something of a free ride as they claimed credit for the 1990s crime drop. We propose that researchers employ comparable data and methods to evaluate such claims-making, with the current analysis intended as a departure point for ongoing research. The use of common evaluation criteria is especially urgent for assessing the effects of the multiple interventions to reduce violent crime launched under the nation’s primary domestic crime-control initiative, Project Safe Neighborhoods.