Collaborative problem-solving at youth crime hot spots: a pilot study

Charlotte Gill*, David Weisburd, Zoe Vitter, Claudia Gross Shader, Tari Nelson-Zagar, Linda Spain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe a case study of a pilot program in which a collaborative problem-solving approach was implemented at hot spots of juvenile and youth crime in downtown Seattle, Washington. Design/methodology/approach: Two matched pairs of youth crime hot spots were allocated at random to treatment (“non-enforcement problem-solving”) or comparison (“policing-as-usual”) conditions within matched pairs. In the treatment condition, police collaborated with community and local government partners to develop problem-solving strategies that deemphasized arrests and other traditional law enforcement approaches. Impacts on crime incidents, calls for service, and police activity were assessed using difference-in-differences Poisson regression with robust standard errors. Findings: No significant impact on crime or calls for service was observed at one site, where several problem-solving approaches were successfully implemented. However, crime and calls for service were significantly lower at the other site, where some enforcement activity took place but non-enforcement problem-solving was limited. Research limitations/implications: The authors find mixed support for non-enforcement problem-solving at hot spots. The enforcement may be necessary for stabilization, and must be balanced with the risks of justice system involvement for youth. Political support at the city level is necessary for collaboration. Limitations include the small number of sites in this pilot study and key differences between treatment and comparison locations. Originality/value: This study is one of the first to assess the impact of primarily non-enforcement problem-solving specifically at youth crime hot spots.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)325-338
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - 4 May 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Community-oriented policing
  • Hot spots
  • Place-based policing
  • Problem-oriented policing
  • Program evaluation
  • Youth


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