Can Precision Policing Reduce Gun Violence? Evidence from “Gang Takedowns” in New York City

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Can Precision Policing Reduce Gun Violence? Evidence from “Gang Takedowns” in New York City

Category: Crime, Homicide, Injury|Journal: Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (full text)|Author: A Chalfin, J Kaplan, M LaForest|Year: 2021

During the last decade, while national homicide rates have remained flat, New York City has experienced a second great crime decline, with gun violence declining by more than 50 percent since 2011. In this paper, we investigate one potential explanation for this dramatic and unexpected improvement in public safety—the New York Police Department’s shift to a more surgical form of “precision policing,” in which law enforcement focuses resources on a small number of individuals who are thought to be the primary drivers of violence. We study New York City’s campaign of “gang takedowns” in which suspected members of criminal gangs were arrested in highly coordinated raids and prosecuted on conspiracy charges. We show that gun violence in and around public housing communities fell by approximately one third in the first year after a gang takedown. Our estimates imply that gang takedowns explain nearly one quarter of the decline in gun violence in New York City’s public housing communities over the last eight years.

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