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Understanding the methodology behind the Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment is crucial for grasping its significance and interpreting its results. In this post, we’ll break down the experiment’s design, sampling, and data collection methods.
The experiment was built on two fundamental hypotheses:
- Visible Police Presence Deters Crime: The belief was that potential offenders would be less likely to commit crimes if they saw police patrols.
- Police Presence Reduces Public Fear: It was also thought that seeing police patrols would make the community feel safer.
The experiment was conducted over a period of one year, from October 1, 1972, to September 30, 1973. Fifteen police beats in Kansas City, Missouri, were selected for the study. These beats were representative of the city’s diverse demographic and socio-economic landscape. The beats were divided into three categories:
- Reactive Patrols: Police cars were removed from these beats. Officers only responded to calls for service.
- Standard Patrols: These beats acted as the control group, with policing continuing as usual.
- Proactive Patrols: Police patrols were significantly increased in these beats.
The study collected data on various parameters:
- Crime rates
- Response times
- Community attitudes toward the police
The data was analyzed using statistical methods to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of different patrol strategies. Special attention was given to understanding the impact on crime rates, response times, and public perception.
Why Methodology Matters
The robustness of the experiment’s methodology lent credibility to its findings. It ensured that the conclusions were based on empirical evidence rather than anecdotal experiences or preconceived notions.
Implications for Future Research
The methodology used in the Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment served as a blueprint for future studies in law enforcement. It demonstrated how empirical data could be used to assess the effectiveness of policing strategies, which was a significant shift from traditional, less scientific approaches.
The Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment’s methodology set new standards for research in the field of law enforcement. By using a rigorous experimental design and comprehensive data collection methods, the study provided a framework for scientifically evaluating policing strategies. Its impact can still be felt today, as it influenced a shift toward evidence-based policymaking in criminal justice.
- Cover Image © Rich Sugg/The Kansas City Star/TNS
- Kelling, G.; Pate, A.; Dickman, D.; Brown, C (1974). “The Kansas City preventive patrol experiment: A technical report“. Police Foundation.