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Journal of Criminal Justice 30 (2002) 65 – 76

Police levels and crime rates revisited
A county-level analysis from Florida (1980–1998)
Tomislav V. Kovandzic*, John J. Sloan
Department of Justice Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Office Building 15, Room 101,
1530 3rd Avenue, South Birmingham, AL 35294-2060, USA

Research on the police – crime relationship generally shows police levels have little impact on crime rates. Two
recent studies [Criminology 34 (1996) 609; American Economics Review 87 (1997) 270.] presented evidence that
prior police – crime studies were methodologically flawed and found that increased police levels reduced crime.
Using county-level data collected from Florida for the period 1980 – 1998 and a multiple time series (MTS)
design, this study revisited the police – crime relationship. For a sample of large cities, the study found that
increased police levels reduced most types of crime at the county level. Similar results have now been reported in
three recent studies using similar research designs but different units of analysis and time periods. Due to this,
prior research showing no relationship between police levels and crime should be reconsidered. D 2002 Elsevier
Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

For nearly twenty years, police agencies in this
country enjoyed steady increases in funding, most of
which have been allocated to hiring more officers.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2000),
between 1982 and 1996 state and local spending on
police agencies increased by 179 percent from about
nineteen billion dollars in 1982 to just over fiftythree billion dollars in 1996. This spending had been
partially supplemented by the federal government’s
allocation of nearly nine billion dollars for hiring
new police officers following passage of the 1994
Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act. In May
2000, Congress authorized an additional forty-five

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-205-934-2069; fax: +1205-934-2067.
E-mail address:
(T.V. Kovandzic).

million dollars to hire 628 more officers in sixty-one
communities nationwide (Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 1998). A recent census of
state and local law enforcement agencies by the
Office of Justice Programs (2000) showed that,
between 1992 and 1996, the number of full-time
state and local law enforcement officers whose
regularly assigned duties included responding to calls
for service grew 19 percent from 354,000 to 423,000
officers. The Office of Justice Programs (1998)
found that, in 1996, there were 663,535 full-time
state and local officers with arrest powers, an
increase of 59,000 officers over 1992 levels.
Implicit in the policy of hiring more officers is the
assumption that more officers reduce crime (Walker,
1998, 1999). This assumption lies at the core of
deterrence theory (Ehrlich, 1972) and is used to
justify not only hiring more police officers, but
building more prisons as well (see Irwin & Austin,
1994; Walker, 1998). Theoretically, if prospective
offenders perceive more police are on the street,

0047-2352/02/$ – see front matter D 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 0 4 7 - 2 3 5 2 ( 0 1 ) 0 0 1 2 3 - 4

more recently. Bahl. or national). 1973. and incarcerations. as police levels increased. (3) sample size. Walker. & Rasmussen. crime rates decreased). Generally. More recently. 1980. . 1979. 1978. two recent studies (Levitt. Spiegel. offenders will be less likely to engage in illegal behavior since they face an increased risk of being caught. Levitt (1997) found that although increased police levels substantially reduced violent crime rates in a sample of large cities. 640) concluded ‘‘. Thus. p.e.. OLS regression). Marvell & Moody. the article discusses the data and methods used in the study. multiple studies have assessed the police – crime relationship (e.. increased police levels had a smaller impact on property crime rates. Most found little support for the assumption that increased police levels affected crime (although some support was found for the assumption that increased crime levels lead to increased police levels). suffering . Huff & Stahura.’’ Similarly. Kovandzic. 1973). regardless of (1) the study design (e. Sloan / Journal of Criminal Justice 30 (2002) 65–76 because they are rational. Due to recent criticisms of published police – crime studies.J. Since the 1970s. J. 1985.police levels and crime rates clearly affect each other. These studies. however. It then presents an overview of the theoretical and the methodological criticisms of prior research. Swimmer. Benson. then additional evidence could be generated to challenge the ‘‘lore’’ that police levels do not affect crime (Walker. Ehrlich. this research showed that police levels rarely had a significant impact on crime. cross sectional or over time).g.g. Bayley. fewer offenders will be free to engage in criminal activities. Marvell & Moody. as police levels increased. suggested that this conclusion could be wrong. (5) unit of analysis (city. Marvell & Moody. 1972. Land & Felson. 1984.66 T. Finally. 1997. 1976.V. state. Greenberg & Kessler. or specific offenses). particularly at the city level. Chapman.e... (4) measure used for police levels. 1994. 1996). but crime rates significantly affected police levels. 1997. Next. Recent reviews of the police – crime literature illustrate these points. thereby reducing crime levels (Ehrlich. Marvell and Moody (1996. 1974b. Cameron. Marvell and Moody (1996) reviewed thirty-six published studies that examined the effect of police levels on crime and reported that only ten of the studies found a significant inverse relationship between police levels and crime rates (i.. (2) time period analyzed. These relatively consistent findings of ‘‘no relationship’’ between police levels and crime rates led many police researchers to conclude that police have little impact on crime (e. Carr-Hill & Stern.. have been criticized on theoretical grounds (e.g. or (7) the data analytic procedures (e. If the present study obtained results similar to those reported by Marvell and Moody (1996) and Levitt (1997) on the police – crime relationship using a different level of analysis (counties in a single state) and time-frame (1980 – 1998). Hakim. overall property crime. overall violent crime.g. Lofton & McDowell. Bayley. . 1974). the current study revisited the question of whether police levels affect crime rates.g. 1974a. 1999). Hakim. & Wasylenko. 1988) and. Fox. 1994. 1994. 1998. Results of two recent police – crime studies (Levitt. 1997. Marvell & Moody. Gustely.g. & Weinblatt. This was done by examining the effect of police levels on crime rates in Florida counties during the period 1980 – 1998 using data analytic techniques proposed by Marvell and Moody (1996) that overcome prior studies’ methodological weaknesses. 1996). including comparative discussion of the current study’s results and those reported by Marvell and Moody (1996). & Weinblatt. 1982. 1998). 1996. Perhaps more importantly. 1973. Ovadia.. a large body of research has explored the police – crime relationship because of the substantive importance of the question of whether police levels affect crime. Kim. 1996) presented evidence that police levels did affect crime rates at both the state and the city level of analysis. In the following section. Further. there may be reason to question the conclusion that police levels and crime are unrelated.. convictions. The size of the impact is often substantial. 1976. Hakim. the article briefly describes prior police – crime research. or a positive relationship between the two (i. Cameron (1988) reviewed twenty-two published studies of the police – crime relationship and found that eighteen studies reported either no relationship between police levels and crime. 1995. however. 1980. on methodological grounds (Levitt. Both studies presented strong evidence indicating that not only did police levels significantly affect crime rates. (6) type of crime (e. There is also the possibility that increased police levels reduce crime through an incapacitation effect: if more police officers result in more arrests. Rising crime rates elevate police levels [and] higher police levels reduce most types of crime. Levitt. Prior research on the police – crime relationship Do police levels affect crime? Since the 1970s. Marvell and Moody (1996) argued that prior research on the police – crime relationship was methodologically flawed. Cornwell & Trumbell. 1978. 1997. 1982. so did crime rates). the analyses and results are presented. The results were relatively consistent. Wellford.

Sherman. increases in the number of police could conceivably lead to an increase in crime as offenders switched from more lucrative but risky behavior (e. 67 open air drug dealing) to less lucrative but less risky activity (e. First. Offenders did not face a simple choice between either engaging in legal or illegal activities. omitted-variable bias). 1991) more resources for them. for example.e. and where. Increased victim reporting therefore could lead to an apparent increase in crime (despite an increased police presence). Sloan / Journal of Criminal Justice 30 (2002) 65–76 such problems as simultaneity and use of incomplete control variables (i. If citizens perceived there were more police on the street. 1992. The following section briefly reviews these issues. offenders face choices beyond whether to engage in conforming or illegal behavior.with few exceptions. the police do not have much impact on crime (Sherman et al. 1997. personnel. their choices involved which crimes to commit. 1997.1 Thus. they might be more likely to report their victimizations because they sensed the chances were good that the offender would be apprehended. theft). Marvell & Moody. two recently published studies not only found a significant police – crime relationship. the police are not involved directly in crime reduction. there have also been methodological issues raised with these studies. 1990). however. Marvell and Moody (1996. Marvell and Moody (1996.g. prior police – crime studies have also been criticized on methodological grounds (Levitt. Marvell and Moody (1996) suggested that an increased police presence affected victim reporting.g.. (2) the only time that the police can actually affect crime is when their numbers are dramatically increased and directed specifically at street patrol. and how to commit them. In essence. 1998). 1982). when. 1995. J. but raised serious concerns with the validity of prior police – crime research and challenged the ‘‘lore’’ that police levels have little impact on crime rates. etc. including [the problems of] simultaneity and incomplete control variables.J. 1994. Thus. Sherman et al. 1992. . Commenting on the rigor of previous police – crime studies. they might simply switch to less serious forms of criminal activity. .. rather than desisting they could simply move to another area to commit their crimes or switch to less risky methods of perpetrating them. resulting in departments more thoroughly documenting crimes reported to them and reducing the likelihood of manipulating their crime statistics. even if offenders were deterred by the presence of police.. Criticisms of prior police – crime research Substantive criticisms Despite its popularity. as Cook (1979) suggested. Benson et al.g. Second. 613) argued ‘‘. the assumption that more police means less crime has several possible theoretical shortcomings. Beyond possible theoretical problems found in the police – crime literature. in turn.. these studies do little to mitigate specification problems. An additional criticism of deterrence concerned the theory’s failure to accurately depict prospective offenders’ motives and available options. These problems. As a result. increasing police levels may actually result in more crime due to offenders changing from serious (but lucrative) offenses to less serious activities. 1997. rather. 1994. offenders would be forced to increase their levels of offending because they switched to less lucrative offenses. which then skewed the possible relationship between police levels and crime. in general. p.T. If offenders perceived that an increased police presence enhanced the chances of being caught perpetrating serious but lucrative offenses.’’3 Simultaneity involves OLS regression analyses that are biased and inconsistent (Pedhazer. & Kennedy. Walker... 1995. a ‘‘backfire effect’’ could occur: increased police levels could actually lead to increased crime levels. Further. Methodological issues2 In addition to possible theoretical problems with them. and (3) most routine policing strategies fail to deter prospective offenders (Bayley. Moore. Finally. deterrence as the theoretical basis for assuming that police levels affect crime rates has been soundly attacked with most published literature indicating that. resulting in their having to offend more frequently to maintain their illegal income stream. Sparrow.. Finally. 1990..V. resulted in biased and inefficient OLS estimates that underestimated the true effect of police levels on crime. showed that burglars were not rational in the sense suggested by deterrence theory. Kovandzic. 611) argued ‘‘simultaneity [in these models] is clearly possible for the simple reason that governments are likely to respond . Swimmer (1974a) suggested that police departments learned that increased victim reporting would lead to increased departmental resources (e. Sherman. 1996. Critics argue that a deterrent or incapacitative effect of the police on crime is unrealistic because: (1) most of the time. 1997). p. To maintain their current levels of illegal income. Gottfredson & Hirschi. Sherman et al. equipment. how many to commit. Wright and Decker (1994). increased police levels may also result in apparent increases in crime due to changes in victim reporting practices and police departments learning that more crime means (Biderman & Lnych.).

There was also wide variation during 1999 in the annual median income for Florida county residents. p. One solution to this problem would be to enter as many control variables as feasible into the model. the study used the same methodological procedures advocated by Marvell and Moody but a different time period (1980 – 1998) and unit of ana- lysis (counties in one state) to examine the police – crime relationship. Broward. They then presented a more appropriate methodology for examining the police – crime relationship and. found that increased police levels significantly reduced crime.000 or more people. 1985. Among its counties. 611). 612) argued that statistical models in prior police – crime research failed to adequately consider factors besides police variables that could affect crime rates which could then account for the apparent lack of impact on crime by the police. combined with Marvell and Moody’s (p. and six counties had populations of 500. but is not affected by. or counties) or the time frame under considera- . Finally. Hibbs.’’ While two-stage least squares (2SLS) using instrumental variables is an accepted procedure for addressing simultaneity.V. They argued that specification problems with the statistical models used in these studies rendered their results questionable.833 (Palm Beach County). according to the Bureau of the Census. Hanushek & Jackson.600 square miles of landmass) and population size (in 1999. The police – crime relationship in Florida counties To revisit the police – crime relationship. during 1999. counties were the primary political division in most states and provided to residents multiple government services. Given that Levitt’s (1997) and Marvell and Moody’s (1996) results challenged prevailing wisdom concerning the police – crime relationship. Population estimates for Florida’s counties during 1999 ranged from a low of just over 6. ranging from a low of US$24. at least one variable that affects. 1985. police levels and is known to neither affect nor be affected by crime. Counties were also chose because they varied considerably in population size and demographics. According to 1990 census data. Greenberg. 1996). 1996. Beyond the fact almost no published studies explicitly considered the police – crime relationship at the county level. 1974. using this methodology. In summary. In other words. 2000).000 people residing in Lafayette County. and crime rates should be used to avoid specification problems involving simultaneity (see also Blalock. Florida ranked first nationally in violent crime rates and sixteenth nationally in the number of state and federal prisoners it housed (Bureau of the Census. Palm Beach. Sloan / Journal of Criminal Justice 30 (2002) 65–76 to crime problems by enlarging police forces. if deterrence theory is correct and police levels should always affect crime.68 T.620 people (Bureau of the Census. 1979). Due to theoretical limitations.000 residents. 1985). Marvell and Moody (1996. omitted variable bias).. 2000). First.000 and 500. including law enforcement (Bureau of the Census.000 and 100.e. 613) observation that ‘‘it is necessary to determine whether the results are similar for other data sets and other reasonable variations of regression procedure and variable form. the average population of Florida’s counties was 214. Florida was chosen because the State Department of Law Enforcement compiled annual UCR-based datasets that were easily downloadable and provided straightforward access to the state’s crime-related data. 1977. it ranked fourth nationally in population). Marvell and Moody (1996) raised serious methodological issues with prior police – crime studies.000 and 250. and Hillsborough Counties and the large cities found there. Kovandzic. Florida was first chosen because it was a relatively large state in geographic terms (sixty-seven counties and nearly 1.000 residents. however.000 persons. J. for example. Marvell and Moody argued that rather than using 2SLS. a likely result is failing to identify all relevant controls.’’ the present study revisited the police – crime relationship. seven counties had between 50. Marvell & Moody. fourteen counties had between 250. nearly 34 percent of Florida’s population lived outside of Miami-Dade. Specifically. 2000). twenty-two had a population of less than 50. Further. Florida was also selected because its crime rates were among the highest in the nation. Counties were also chosen on substantive theoretical grounds. this procedure requires a minimum of one identifying restriction (Blalock.000 residents. Finally. 1979. To illustrate. the effect should occur regardless of the unit of analysis (states.J. In 1997. the specification problem is not resolved but is actually exacerbated (Blalock. lags between police levels. if the researcher chooses inappropriate control variables. Florida was selected for several reasons. cities. p. Counties were selected as the unit of analysis for several reasons. eighteen counties had populations ranging between 100. to over two million people living in Miami-Dade County. must be identified in the model (Marvell & Moody. The second methodological problem with prior police – crime research involves incomplete control variables (i.505 (Lafayette County) to a high of US$35. the researcher may face a situation where data involving potential control variables are either not available or are extremely difficult to obtain. Such restrictions are difficult to satisfy because of theoretical limitations resulting in a failure to exclude relationships between the instrumental variable(s) and crime.

County-level police employee counts were not available for 1984 and were estimated by taking the average of the number of employees in 1983 and 1985. 620 – 621).S. To the extent that changes in reporting occurred statewide. Discussion now turns to the data and methods used by this current study. year dummies controlled for unobserved factors that might have raised or lowered police and crime levels in a given year across the state — for example. The fixed-effects model. the present study used the total number of police employees as its police variable. Important advantages of MTS included the fact it provided for a large sample size (a minimum of 968 cases in the present study) and allows the researcher to enter proxy variables for unobserved factors that cause police and crime levels to vary among counties and across years statewide (Marvell & Moody. the analyses also included separate linear trend variables 69 for each county. offenders may chose to commit their crimes in these outlying areas simply because there are fewer police. Data and methods The present study used pooled county-level timeseries data for fifty-seven Florida counties from 1980 to 1998. the study sought to uncover the extent the police – crime relationship might differ from those reported for states (much larger in both geographic size and population) or cities (generally smaller in geographic size but possibly larger in population size). Sloan / Journal of Criminal Justice 30 (2002) 65–76 tion. 1996. p. To be consistent with measures used by Marvell and Moody. 1986. In addition to the county and year dummies. required the addition of dummy variables for each county and each year. Florida’s 1987 Right-ToCarry law. 1978). J. assault and rape data could be suspect. including describing the major independent and control variables and data analytic techniques.J. p. year dummies controlled for the changes. police – crime researchers have generally used either police expenditures or the number of police officers as their police variable. . Assault and rape data were also included in the analyses. 5 The data included counts of full-time police employees (sworn and civilian) on October 31 of each calendar year. if deterrence theory is correct and prospective criminals are aware that increased police levels increase the likelihood of being caught and sanctioned. Second. while studies using states as the unit of analysis might have underestimated the impact of police on crime. Marvell and Moody (1996. also used by Marvell and Moody (1996). Police variable As Marvell and Moody (1996) noted. 620).6 The number of offenses per 100. By using counties as the unit of analysis. While the county dummies controlled for factors that caused police and crime levels to vary between counties. 1993.V. which could include rape and serious assault (Jensen & Karpos. because cities (especially large cities) usually have more police than outlying areas. and university police located in each county due to severe reporting problems arising from these agencies.4 Police levels were created using agency-level police employee data prepared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and maintained by the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (U. new laws were passed that encouraged women to report being the victims of domestic violence.000 population. Department of Justice. An example from Florida would be the impact of the Cuban Mariel Boat Lift in May of 1980 that might have contributed to increases in Miami’s (Dade County’s) homicide rates between 1980 and 1982.000 population for each index crime in the fifty-seven Florida counties from 1978 to 1998 included in the analyses was obtained from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on computer diskette. pp. If increased police levels affect crime. They suggested assault and rape were potentially problematic because (1) police agencies became increasingly more likely to record these incidents in the appropriate categories and (2) during the 1990s. Mundlak. which mandated that authorities give concealed weapon permits to qualified applicants. 1978 – 1998). despite cautions by Marvell and Moody that over time. Reiss & Roth. 1993).T. Crime variables Similar to Marvell and Moody (1996). considered the standard method for analyzing MTS data. Excluded were counts of police personnel from state police. except the first year and the first county (Hsiao. studies that used large cities as the unit of analysis might have overestimated the effects of police on crime. 622) recommended inclusion of these variables because they controlled for trends in a locality that departed from trends captured by the year dummies. The basic data analytic procedure for this study was a multiple time series (MTS) design with a fixed-effects model. The MTS design differs from other pooled designs because it only utilizes time-series variation and has several advantages over more commonly used longitudinal or cross-sectional designs (Marvell & Moody. airport police. the present study defined crime as the number of offenses known to police that comprised the UCR Crime Index (excluding arson) per 100. Kovandzic. 1996.

Data transformations All continuous variables (e. Marvell and Moody (1996.70 T. While doing so shortened by one year the time indicating that the analysis could be conducted in levels and not first differences. 1993). pp.9 Collinearity diagnostics indicated there were no problems with the principal variables of interest. the Granger test is used to explore causal direction and determines the ability of one variable to predict another (Hamilton. as determined by the Breusch – Pagan test. is the preferred method for exploring simultaneity.S. Specific control variables In addition to the proxy variables discussed above. several control variables used by Marvell and Moody (1996) were included in the analyses. p. 620). This situation would be problematic in the present study only if the causation between police levels and crime was instantaneous. These coefficients were interpreted as elasticities. Enders. the Granger test results would not have been significant and would have failed to indicate the existence of a police – crime relationship. Marvell and Moody pointed out that when the Granger test was conducted in levels. The regressions included weighted functions of the population. 1995) and to control for any factors that affected police and crime indirectly through prior year values (Marvell & Moody. pp. p. 1979. and specific control variables) were divided by population and logged to be consistent with the analyses performed by Marvell and Moody (1996). 1996. 122) argued: [T]he fundamental notion underlying the [Granger] test is that if X causes Y. The initial Granger test was conducted to determine if causation existed between crime rates and police levels. 619 – 620) have noted that the Granger test could fail to detect causation operating only in the current year. 621). 1995). the test would probably identify instantaneous causation because the current-year value of the independent variable would be serially correlated with its one-year lagged value (Marvell & Moody.J. a lagged relationship between police and crime. Marvell and Moody suggested. then lagged values of X will be significant in a regression of Y on its own lagged values and the lagged values of X.8 Age-structure variables and unemployment data were obtained from the Florida Bureau of Business and Economic Research (1999) on diskette. Granger causality test Marvell and Moody (1996) argued that the Granger causality test. Dependent variables were lagged to mitigate the effects of autocorrelation (Hendry. instead of 2SLS.. Midyear countylevel prison population data were supplied by the Florida Department of Corrections (1999) on diskette. crime. then lagged values of Y should be significant in a similar regression of X on its own history and the history of Y.g. Rather than estimate crime data for 1988 by taking the average crime levels for 1987 and 1989. 1996. Stationarity tests were also conducted using the augmented Dickey – Fuller test adopted for time-series cross-sectional analysis (Dickey & Fuller. county crime data for 1988 were dropped from the analyses. 1996. p. and county-level prison population figures. p.10 An econometric procedure. two economic variables (per-capita personal income7 and percent unemployed). Finally.V. 1988. as was done in the present study. as in a police – crime study (Granger. Pindyck & Rubinfield. a series figure that is considered sufficient for MTS analysis (Marvell & Moody. The F test was used to determine the significance of proxy variables in the police and crime regressions.doc. to control for heteroscedasticity (Greene. however. 1994. Kovandzic. 622). 216 – 219). 1993). because the test includes only the lagged effects of the independent variable. the percentage change occurring in the dependent variable resulting from a 1 percent change in the independent variable (Greene. J. until word got out that more officers were on the street. the results should not be biased because police and crime data for seventeen additional years were used in the analyses. Finally. If true. it was unlikely that police levels and crime impacted each other simultaneously because it took time for governments to hire and train new officers when confronted with higher crime rates. or score it as missing data. therefore. Researchers typically use the Granger test when they cannot completely specify the structural model. As Marvell and Moody (1994. Bureau of Economic Analysis website (http://www. This was accomplished by regressing police levels on lags of themselves and on lagged . If Y causes X. Sloan / Journal of Criminal Justice 30 (2002) 65–76 County-level crime data for 1988 were incomplete because Florida agencies were unable to comply with format changes made in the state’s incident-based UCR reporting system (Florida Department of Law Enforcement. the analyses indicated that police and crime data were stationary in levels. Personal income data were downloaded from the U. Both situations suggest. 1999). 1991. It was also reasonable to assume that offenders did not immediately respond to increased police levels and the potentially increased likelihood of apprehension. 303). The variables included two age-structure variables (percent males ages 15 – 24 and percent males ages 25 – 34). 1969. p. number of police. bea.

66* 968 831 .095 0.13 at the city-level. however.60 0.82 3.201 0. burglary. Lag 1 Police levels. As noted above. but two years are lost in the autocorrelation correction.056 14.06 2.23* 3.12 The fact that an Table 1 Granger causality results for police – crime relationship Dependent variables Police levels (1980 – 1997) Coefficient Total crime rates (1980 – 1998) t-ratio Independent variables Police levels. Although the F value for the one.111 0.079 0. The F values for the two lags of crime were highly significant for robbery. then police levels Granger-caused crime. Lag 1 Crime rates.15 at the statelevel and . the lengths of which were identical to those used by Marvell and Moody (1996).52* 2.V. If the lagged crime rates were jointly significant (as determined by the F test). Lag 2 Crime rates. This resulted in two lags of crime in the police regressions and one lag of police in the crime regressions.77* 1. but were not significant for murder.77 – – 3.05 level (two-tailed test). slightly less than half the size of the coefficient reported by Marvell and Moody (1996) who obtained long-term elasticities of .63* 1.049) is positive and significant at P < . rape.038 2.058 0. year dummies. Lag 2 0. .07* 1. expressed as natural logs. Not reported in the table are results for individual county dummies.013 0. If the lagged police variables were jointly significant. At first glance.05. or larceny.02* Control variables Percent males 15 – 24 Percent males 25 – 34 Unemployment rate Per-capita personal income Prison population 0.96 The crime and police data began in 1978. Table 2 appears to indicate that the impact of crime on police varies considerably across individual crimes.80* 13.and two-year lags of total crime is not significant. All continuous variables were divided by county population.27* – 0.03* 0. appears small.086 0.049 14.01* 1.036 2. * Significant at the . hire and train new police officers.483 0.85* 2.025 888 . learn of crime problems.41* 0. then crime Granger-caused police levels.93 F values for variable groups Crime rates (two lags) Five control variables Year dummies County dummies County trends Sample size df Adjusted R2 2.301 0.T. assault. The two columns below each dependent variable are the coefficients and absolute value of the t-statistics. with the long-term elasticity for total crime on police as .11 Table 2 presents the Granger test results of the impact on police levels of the individual UCR index crimes.56 2.004 0.515 0. Crime rates were then regressed on lags of themselves and on lags of police levels. Kovandzic.06. The relative magnitude of the impact.281 0.40* 5.42* 0.13 0. this was not unexpected since it takes time for local governments to gather crime data. and deploy them.24* 1. the coefficient on the two-year lag for total crime (. The second and third lags were dropped if they were not significant and if the significance level of the F test did not decline. Results The impact of crime on police levels Table 1 presents the Granger causality test results for total crime on police levels and Table 2 presents Granger causality test results for individual UCR index offenses on police levels. The initial Granger test was conducted using three lags.079 – 2.93 Coefficient t-ratio 0. Sloan / Journal of Criminal Justice 30 (2002) 65–76 crime rates.43 1.J. and auto-theft.15 2. J.20* 2. The results shown 71 in Table 1 provide at least partial evidence that increases in crime lead to increases in police levels. All crime regressions were weighted by a function of county population as determined by the Breusch – Pagan test. and county trends.

13 Specifically. The independent variables are the same as those in Table 1.27 0.11 This table presents results of Granger tests that involved regressing the individual UCR crimes on police levels. 880).66 0. while Table 3 presents Granger test results of the impact of police levels on the individual offenses. To uncover whether coefficients for individual crimes differed across the police regressions (e. the Chow test with a seemingly unrelated regression (SUR) model was used to determine whether coefficients for individual UCR crimes were significantly different between the police regressions. rape.49 1. the Chow test uses SUR F tests to test the null hypothesis that the coefficients on each individual UCR index crime are equal between police regressions.70 F value Coefficient t-ratio Coefficient 0.08* 0.022 0. The impact of police levels on crime Table 1 also presents the results of the Granger test of the impact of police levels on crime. J. 1999.004 0.043 0.001 0.083 t-ratio 2.73 This table presents the result of regressions that are the same as those in Table 1.57 0.06 0.02 3. 1993). Table 3 Granger causality results of the impact of police levels on individual index offenses with police levels lagged one year Dependent variables Total crime Homicide Rape Robbery Assault Burglary Larceny Auto-theft Coefficient 0. .027 0.14 Results presented in Tables 1 and 2 supported Marvell and Moody’s (1996) conclusion that crime rates have a relatively small impact on police levels.06 2.096 0.15 2. except here the crime types vary.27* 1. the SUR F test results for the police regressions suggested there were no significant differences among the crime variables. Kovandzic.019 0.155 0.55 0.046 0. murder vs.35 2.02* 0. assault. the fact the F values for robbery.81 1.009 Two-year lag t-ratio 0.g. either because researchers ignored potential simultaneity problems or failed to properly address simultaneity with appropriate procedures. and auto-theft were significant. only six were significant at the .05 level. At present. More importantly. etc.007 0. * Significant at the .92 0. The results shown in Table 1 provide strong evidence that increased police levels lead to lower crime rates.014 0. With the exception of assault. robbery.031 2.43 2.V. does not necessarily mean that these crimes affected police levels differently.05 level (two-tailed test). All regressions were weighted by a function of county population as determined by the Breusch – Pagan test. the results were consistent with Marvell and Moody’s suggestion that local governments probably look at overall crime rate fluctuations more than fluctuations in specific crime rates when making police hiring decisions. Sloan / Journal of Criminal Justice 30 (2002) 65–76 Table 2 Granger causality results of impact of individual index offenses on police levels One-year lag Coefficient Independent variables Total crime Homicide Rape Robbery Assault Burglary Larceny Auto-theft 0.52 0.077 0.07 1.002 0. independent variable is significant in one regression equation as a dependent variable.42 0. * Significant at the . Only results for police levels lagged one-year are presented. but not in another equation. As recommended by Marvell and Moody (1999). the results provided additional evidence that statistical models in prior police – crime research probably suffered from simultaneity bias. All crime regressions were weighted by a function of county population as determined by the Breusch – Pagan test.72 T. Finally.19 2.012 0.70 2.079 0.99* 0. Of the twenty-one SUR F tests conducted.J.. burglary.63 0.56 2.25* 1.049 0. and all rejected the null hypothesis that assault impacts police levels similarly to other UCR index crimes.). does not necessarily mean that the independent variable differentially affected the two dependent variables (Marvell & Moody. twenty-one separate SUR F tests were conducted using the STEST option in the SYSLIN procedure in SAS (SAS Institute.55 0. murder vs. p.007 0.84* 1. Only results for lags are presented and the F value is for the two lags. murder vs. but F values for the remaining offenses were not.05 level.126 0.004 0.16* 0.012 0.34* 2.117 0.

Kovandzic. The current study. a 10 percent increase in police levels lowered crime rates by 1. the present study’s results showed little impact at the county level of police levels on homicide rates. then increased police levels might actually have helped overload Florida’s prisons. but at the county level of analysis. the study partially replicated their analyses for the purpose of shedding additional light on the nature of the police – crime relationship. The only exceptions to this pattern occurred for rape and assault where the F test consistently rejected the null hypothesis that police levels impact rape and assault in ways similar to how police levels affect other UCR index crimes. While Levitt (1997) and Marvell and Moody (1996) found strong evidence that more police reduced homicide rates at the city and the state level of analysis. .19. Moreover. That is. such that increased levels of crime caused small increases in police levels.T. If part of the impact of police levels on crime was through incapacitation.4 percent over time. however. the above crime regressions were repeated but included only those counties with populations greater than 100. burglary.21. Sloan / Journal of Criminal Justice 30 (2002) 65–76 given that the long-term elasticity for total crime is . Despite these important differences. for example. Discussion The results reported above are generally consistent with those reported by Levitt (1997) and Marvell and Moody (1996). Florida’s prison system exceeded federally prescribed population limits. the elasticities for robbery. That these results have now been reported in three recent studies using similar research designs and data analytic techniques indicates that previous lore concerning the impact of police on crime may be just that. respectively. Using the same variables and data analytic techniques as presented in Marvell and Moody. suggesting that police are less effective in reducing crime in both large urban counties and in counties with high crime rates. While not shown. and (3) the police – crime link was explored for counties in a single state. the results for both samples of counties produced elasticities generally smaller than those for the entire sample of counties. Between February of 1987 and December of 1994. however. 73 The most notable difference among the three studies occurred concerning the impact of police levels on homicide. 1992).10 level) as indicated by the longterm elasticities of . The most likely explanation for the different results is that during the late 1980s. Florida released many offenders from its prisons due to overcrowding. Table 3 shows the significance of the total crime coefficient arises mainly from the strong impact of police levels on robbery. and larceny were the best estimates for determining the magnitude of the impact of police levels on crime. and . if early-released prisoners were more criminally active than newly incarcerated offenders.17 While Levitt presented evidence of significant impact of police levels on aggravated assault at the city or state level.000 people and counties with crime rates above the statewide average in 1990 (midpoint in time series). that differences between the subsets of counties and the entire sample were most likely due to chance. while increased police levels caused sometimes substantial reductions in crime over time. burglary.V. and larceny (which was significant at the P < . burglary. Although the SUR F tests suggested that police levels impacted crime rates in a similar fashion. (2) the police – crime relationship was examined using counties as the unit of analysis. . however. resulting in thousands of inmates serving an average one-third of their imposed term of sentence (Bales & Dees. results of the current study generally mirrored those reported by Levitt (1997) and Marvell and Moody (1996): there was a relationship between police levels and crime rates. including to illustrate the utility of the MTS design advocated by Marvell and Moody (1996) and to revisit the issue of the impact of police on crime. although the elasticities in the present study were somewhat smaller than those reported by Marvell and Moody and by Levitt. Conclusion This study was undertaken for two major purposes. differed from Marvell and Moody’s research in three important ways: (1) the data covered a series further forward in time (1980 – 1998). urban counties and in counties with higher crime rates where changes in police levels might be more efficacious. The F test results suggested. neither the present study (county-level) nor Marvell and Moody (city or state level) found evidence of such an effect.12. J. early-release programs designed to alleviate prison overcrowding might have had the unintended consequence of releasing large numbers of criminally active offenders back into the community. that the coefficients for police levels were generally similar across the different crime types. All three studies reported significant and substantial impacts of police levels on robbery. There was also the possibility that the impact of police levels on crime would be greater in large.14.16 To explore this possibility.J. and larceny.15 The SUR F tests for the crime regressions suggested.

12. . 61. & Rasmussen. New Brunswick. pp. rape. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Gustely. & Wasylenko. Causal methods in panel and experimental designs. 629) noted. W. and larceny (.S. D. and population was raised to the . 4.and two-year lags on total crime were summed and then divided by one minus the sum of the coefficients on the lagged police-level variables. 31. 1994. Kovandzic. the present study used a county-level prison variable operationalized as the number of offenders in prison at midyear. The best illustration of this criticism can be found in the National Academy of Science’s report on general deterrence research (Blumstein. 309 – 329. 10. 623 – 624) and Marvell (1998. National Tax Journal. Blumstein. 611. Marvell and Moody (1996. 1980). 5. & Dees. (1979). Hamilton. Sloan / Journal of Criminal Justice 30 (2002) 65–76 Acknowledgments Both authors contributed equally to the completion of this article and their names are listed alphabetically. (Eds. 16. needed to compute the elasticities. I. D. 1983. Blalock. Biderman. New York: Oxford University Press. (1985). Kim. D..and two-year lags for crime.70 power for automobile theft.. respectively. Bayley. 9. 1999a. 11. (1994). Duval County was dropped from the analyses because police figures were not reported for the period under study. P. Gulf. 38. Blalock.08. Southern Economic Journal. & Loftin.). Crime and Delinquency. J.J. 19 – 20). . burglary (. M. D. and previous research shows the measures to be highly correlated (Greenberg. the coefficients for the one. (1985). 64 – 79. The weights.. Kessler. p. M. were as follows: population was raised to the . The report concluded that because general deterrence research failed to address the issues of simultaneous effects and third variable causes. The theoretical rationale for including these variables is found in Marvell and Moody (1996.) (1978).109).. however. Bayley. A. burglary. 52). . p. Patterns of policing: a comparative international analysis. D. The long-term elasticities for robbery. but note that he bears no responsibility for any errors found in the article. To compute the elasticities. pp. R. The analyses benefited from an anonymous reviewer’s suggestion that they should examine whether differences between the impact of police levels on crime and the impact of crime on police levels represented significant differences. 6. Marvell and Moody (1996. Levitt (1997). . 17. Personal income data were converted from a current dollar estimate to a constant-dollar 1992 using price deflators used by the U. For in-depth discussion of the Granger causality test. D. As Marvell and Moody (1996. H. 1978). (1991). increased police levels had no impact on either victim reporting or agency recording behavior.80 power for homicide. 390). and were generally consistent with those reported by Marvell and Moody (1996). Understanding crime incidence statistics. Lafayette. Estimating deterrence effects: a public choice perspective on the economics of crime literature. (1994). population was raised to the . 625 – 626). & Nagin. (1978). 14. Jefferson.. 160 – 168. 2. A.064). H. or due to random chance. for a sample of large cities. H. R. 1999. Gilchrist. Holmes. 7. Social statistics (2nd ed. 13. Policing for the future. regardless of where the crime occurred or the offender imprisoned. Beverly Hills. the results of these studies should not be used to justify policy changes (see also Brier & Feinberg. pp. and automobile theft were . and aggravated assault. H. 3. Cohen. determined the county to which the offender was assigned. Notes 1. New York: McGraw-Hill. The county in which the offender was sentenced. p. (1992). Cohen. References Bahl. and Suwanee.50 power for the police regressions. 15.74 T. & Nagin. see Granger (1969). The determinants of local government police expenditure: a public employment approach. as determined by the Breusch – Pagan test. and . & Lynch. M. Unlike Marvell and Moody who included a state-level prison variable in their crime regressions. 617) criticized prior police – crime research that used 2SLS regression to address potential simultaneity problems because the studies often used inappropriate identifying restrictions and/or inappropriate instrumental variables. L. New York: Springer-Verlag. J. were as follows: robbery (. population was raised to the power of the county population for burglary and larceny. robbery.V.491. CA: Sage. The coefficients for one.267. 8. this adjustment procedure was necessary because some of the impact of the lagged independent variables occurred through the lagged dependent variables (Hamilton.04. Marvell and Moody (1996) found no evidence that increased police levels reduced larceny at the state-level of analysis. See Marvell and Moody (1996) for comprehensive discussion of these issues. J.. NJ: Rutgers University Press. M.005). B.05. G. since 85 – 90 percent of police agencies’ budgets are allocated to officer salaries and benefits (Walker. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the assistance and encouragement of Thomas Marvell. J. L. We thank the editor and the anonymous reviewers for extremely helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier version of the article. Mandatory minimum sentencing in Florida: past trends and future implications. W. Results of the SUR F tests are available from the first author on request. The following counties were deleted from the analyses due to serious reporting problems during the 1990s: Franklin. W. pp.. 1999b) suggested there is probably little difference between the two police measures. An anonymous reviewer suggested that this could be a possibility and should be explored. found that.. D. Glades. Bales. .404. Benson. J.

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