A major research collaboration between the Philadelphia Police Department and researchers in the Department of Criminal Justice involving over 200 police officers on foot beats around some of the city’s most violent corners may spark a revision of a long-held view of police patrol.
Since the 1980s, it has long been the opinion of many police and criminology researchers that police foot patrols can improve community perception of the police and reduce fear of crime, but they don’t prevent actual crime. Results from the Philadelphia Foot Patrol Experiment suggest that a more positive view of intelligence-led targeting of foot patrol officers may be warranted.
On the invitation of the Philadelphia Police Department, police and academic researchers worked together to plan the Philadelphia Foot Patrol Experiment as a randomized control trial. With the resources to patrol 60 locations, researchers identified the highest violent crime corners in the city, using data from 2006 to 2008. Police commanders designed 120 foot patrol areas around these corners, and stratified randomization was used to assign pairs of foot patrols with similar crime rates as either a comparison or a target area.
Philadelphia Foot Patrol Experiment website