What Can Police Do to Reduce Crime, Disorder, and Fear?

David Weisburd*, John E. Eck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

560 Scopus citations


The authors review research on police effectiveness in reducing crime, disorder, and fear in the context of a typology of innovation in police practices. That typology emphasizes two dimensions: one concerning the diversity of approaches, and the other, the level of focus. The authors find that little evidence supports the standard model of policing-low on both of these dimensions. In contrast, research evidence does support continued investment in police innovations that call for greater focus and tailoring of police efforts, combined with an expansion of the tool box of policing beyond simple law enforcement. The strongest evidence of police effectiveness in reducing crime and disorder is found in the case of geographically focused police practices, such as hot-spots policing. Community policing practices are found to reduce fear of crime, but the authors do not find consistent evidence that community policing (when it is implemented without models of problem-oriented policing) affects either crime or disorder. A developing body of evidence points to the effectiveness of problem-oriented policing in reducing crime, disorder, and fear. More generally, the authors find that many policing practices applied broadly throughout the United States either have not been the subject of systematic research or have been examined in the context of research designs that do not allow practitioners or policy makers to draw very strong conclusions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)42-65
Number of pages24
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
StatePublished - May 2004


  • Community policing
  • Crime
  • Disorder
  • Evaluations
  • Hot spots
  • Police
  • Problem-oriented policing


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