Evaluating Problem-Solving Policing: The Chicago Experience

Wesley G. Skogan

This conference paper describes the evaluation of a community policing program in Chicago. There is a great deal of interest in systematically assessing how well community policing programs work. A thorough assessment of a new program generally calls for two kinds of evaluations. Process evaluations examine program design and implementation, and detail both the program's "theory" (how was it supposed to have an impact on crime) and its actual implementation (whether or not the police actually adopted different practices). Impact evaluations analyze the effect that the program had on the problems that it targeted. The Chicago study was both a process and impact evaluation, but this paper focuses on what we found about the impact of the program on the lives of the city's residents. The first section describes the program and the evaluation. The next documents the analytic approach that was adopted that enables us to assess the impact of community policing in five city neighborhoods. The third section presents what we found about the impact of the program. It looks at the impact of community policing on a variety of community problems, and illustrates how different ways of measuring those problems pointed to the same conclusions. The next section deals with geographic displacement; it examines whether crimes were actually prevented, or if they just shifted to another nearby locale. The final section summarizes the findings, and comments on the general features of evaluation projects.

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