This paper aims to estimate the effects of gun possession arrests made by a specialized, proactive police patrol unit in the Houston Police Department (HPD).
Time series analyses are used to estimate the effects of weekly gun possession arrests on weekly counts of gun crimes in Houston, TX. Models isolate the effects of arrests made by the proactive patrol unit from gun possession arrests made by other HPD officers.
Citywide and beat‐level analyses show that the proactive unit made meaningful contributions to existing levels of illegal possession arrests. Time series analyses using weekly data show that these additional arrests are associated with significant declines in offences committed with guns. Findings support existing evidence that shows police can affect serious crimes by targeting firearms that are illegally possessed and carried.
The analysis can not precisely determine whether additional patrol presence or arrests are the precise mechanisms that might be influencing gun crimes.
The findings are consistent with existing evidence and suggest that focused police work to seize illegally possessed firearms from the streets and arrest those in illegal possession of firearms will impact offences committed with firearms.
The analysis extends existing work that tests the effects of proactive patrol activities on offences committed with firearms. The analysis is distinct from existing research on this topic because it estimates the effects of gun possession arrests rather than the effects of gun seizures.