Review of Literature
The purpose of this literature review is to provide an in-depth analysis of hot spot policing and review the main aspects of this policing strategy. This review will examine five experimental studies that have shaped hot spot policing as a viable and effective policing methodology. It will also examine the current status of hot spot policing, its benefits, and its limitations.
Police random preventive patrol by a mobile police force was the hallmark of the Reform Era of policing. Police officers were expected to remain in their “rolling fortresses,” going from one call to the next with all due haste (Manning, 1971). Officers were evaluated based on outputs, such as miles driven, calls handled, tickets issued and arrests made. Being a patrol officer often meant acting like a human pinball, reactively going from call to call, getting out of the patrol vehicle upon arrival at the scene, taking a report, and then returning to the patrol car and resuming patrol—to log more miles and look busy and productive. If a citizen were to get any face time with an officer, it was typically as the officer drove by at 35 miles per hour and waved (Peak, 2009). The belief behind random preventive patrol was that a visible police presence throughout an area would deter criminal activity by the constant movement of marked police vehicles throughout a defined geographic area of responsibility, commonly referred to as a beat. Random preventive patrol was, “a way to maximize the possible deterrent value of police visibility through the omnipresence of the police throughout a community (Braga & Weisburd, 2010)”.
During the Reform Era of policing, it was discovered that crime began to rise and research showed the random preventive patrol was ineffective at reducing crime rates and fear of victimization. Prior to this time, very little studies had been done to evaluate the nexus between the police response to crime and the impact of the response methodology to crime rates and public perception.
Between 1972 and 1973, the Police Foundation conducted an experiment known as the Kansas City Preventive Patrol study. The study divided fifteen Kansas City patrol beats into three categories. In five beats, labeled “reactive beats,” officers only responded to calls for service. Random preventive patrol was maintained in five beats and in five “proactive beats” patrol was increased two to three times the normal level. The researchers found that preventive patrol had no measureable effect on crime or citizen feelings of security (Braga & Weisburd, 2010). Though the Kansas City Preventive Patrol study revealed random preventive patrol was ineffective, the study did not examine why.
The development of hot spot policing as a policing methodology emerged from the “why” question of the Kansas City Preventive Patrol study. Simply defined, hot spots policing is the application of police interventions at very small geographic units of analysis (Braga & Weisburd,...