Modern Policing and the Control of Illegal Drugs: Testing New Strategies in Oakland, California, and Birmingham, Alabama, 1987-1989 (ICPSR 9962)

Published: Nov 4, 2005

Principal Investigator(s):
Craig D. Uchida, National Institute of Justice, Office of Criminal Justice Research; Brian Forst, The American University; Sampson O. Annan, The Police Foundation

https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR09962.v1

Version V1

These data were collected in Oakland, California, and Birmingham, Alabama, to examine the effectiveness of alternative drug enforcement strategies. A further objective was to compare the relative effectiveness of strategies drawn from professional- versus community-oriented models of policing. The professional model emphasizes police responsibility for crime control, whereas the community model stresses the importance of a police-citizen partnership in crime control. At each site, experimental treatments were applied to selected police beats. The Oakland Police Department implemented a high-visibility enforcement effort consisting of undercover buy-bust operations, aggressive patrols, and motor vehicle stops, while the Birmingham Police Department engaged in somewhat less visible buy-busts and sting operations. Both departments attempted a community-oriented approach involving door-to-door contacts with residents. In Oakland, four beats were studied: one beat used a special drug enforcement unit, another used a door-to-door community policing strategy, a third used a combination of these approaches, and the fourth beat served as a control group. In Birmingham, three beats were chosen: Drug enforcement was conducted by the narcotics unit in one beat, door-to-door policing, as in Oakland, was used in another beat, and a police substation was established in the third beat. To evaluate the effectiveness of these alternative strategies, data were collected from three sources. First, a panel survey was administered in two waves on a pre-test/post-test basis. The panel survey data addressed the ways in which citizens' perceptions of drug activity, crime problems, neighborhood safety, and police service were affected by the various policing strategies. Second, structured observations of police and citizen encounters were made in Oakland during the periods the treatments were in effect. Observers trained by the researchers recorded information regarding the roles and behaviors of police and citizens as well as police compliance with the experiment's procedures. And third, to assess the impact of the alternative strategies on crime rates, reported crime data were collected for time periods before and during the experimental treatment periods, both in the targeted beats and city-wide.

Uchida, Craig D., Forst, Brian, and Annan, Sampson O. Modern Policing and the Control of Illegal Drugs: Testing New Strategies in Oakland, California, and Birmingham, Alabama, 1987-1989. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2005-11-04. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR09962.v1

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote

United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (87-IJ-CX-0058 and 8-IJ-CX-0015)

1987 -- 1989

1988 -- 1989 (Oakland: February 1988-April 1989, Birmingham: May 1988-December 1989)

The researchers conducted this study to provide evidence of the effectiveness of alternative drug enforcement strategies. There was particular interest in examining the relative effectiveness of strategies drawn from professional- versus community-oriented models of policing. The professional model emphasizes police responsibility for crime control, whereas the community model stresses the importance of a police-citizen partnership in crime control.

The cities of Oakland, California, and Birmingham, Alabama, were chosen for the experiment based on similarity of population size, demographics, number of police officers, and history of drug problems. In each city, the main focus was on evaluating the impact of alternative policing methods on citizens' attitudes and reported crime. The researchers selected beats to either receive an experimental treatment or to act as a control group. The treatments consisted of either increasing enforcement activities based on the professional policing model, or increasing police-citizen cooperation based on the community policing model. In Oakland, the enforcement activities were conducted by Special Duty Unit 3 (SDU-3) and consisted of undercover buy-bust operations, aggressive patrols, and motor vehicle stops. The community policing activity consisted of door-to-door contacts with citizens. The Oakland data contain information on four beats: one control and three treatments. For the period May-October 1988, SDU-3 operated in Beat 25, community policing was practiced in Beat 7, both SDU-3 and community policing were in effect in Beat 34, and Beat 11 served as the control group, with no change in police activities. One rotation of treatments occurred among the beats during the period November 1988-April 1989. During that time, SDU-3 operated in Beat 34, community policing was practiced in Beat 11, both treatments were in effect in Beat 7, and Beat 25 served as the control group. In Birmingham, the enforcement activities included less visible buy-busts and sting operations conducted by the narcotics unit. The community policing efforts involved door-to-door contacts, as in Oakland, and the establishment of a police substation. In contrast to the Oakland site, a control group did not exist in Birmingham. Three beats received three different treatments: Beat 61 used narcotics unit enforcement, Beat 84 practiced door-to-door policing, and Beat 62 had a police substation. No rotation of treatments occurred. These treatments were in effect from September 1988 to February 1989. Structured observations of the police were performed in Oakland.

A random sample was used to select respondents for Wave I of the panel surveys. This resulted in 787 and 580 respondents in Oakland and Birmingham, respectively. Wave II panel members were the Wave I respondents reduced by attrition. Wave II respondents totaled 506 and 438 for Oakland and Birmingham, respectively. Police patrols were selected for observation on a judgmental basis. In Oakland, 82 out of 220 (37 percent) Special Duty Unit 3 tours were observed. The crime data cover reported crime during the periods January 1987-April 1989 and January 1987-September 1989 for Oakland and Birmingham, respectively.

For the panel surveys, the universe consisted of residents, 18 years and older, residing in the target beats. In Oakland, the sample of structured observations was drawn from a universe of Special Duty Unit 3 patrols conducted during the treatment period.

The researchers collected data from surveys of residents, structured observations by trained observers, and crime reports. The units of analysis are, respectively, individuals, interactions between police and citizens, and reported incidents of crime.

structured observations, personal interviews, and crime reports

survey data, and event/transaction data

experimental data

Each data source focused on collecting specific types of information. Panel surveys in both Oakland and Birmingham asked questions on topics such as awareness of drug trafficking problems, prevalence of crime other than drug trafficking, awareness of specific police programs aimed at controlling crime and drugs, perceived safety of the neighborhood, quality of life in the neighborhood, and satisfaction with police service. The structured observations in Oakland assessed the major roles, behavior, and decisions of police and citizens in drug-related encounters. Observational data were recorded using two different instruments: a "long form" used in 353 encounters in which an arrest was made, and a "short form" used in 130 encounters in which police briefly stopped and questioned individuals but did not make an arrest. (Structured observations were not conducted in Birmingham.) Drug arrest data were gathered for both cities. Location of arrest, crime type, suspect information, and evidence were of particular interest. Additional crime data were collected covering offenses against persons (homicide, rape, and felonious assault), burglaries, and robberies.

Response rates for Wave I of the panel surveys were 58 percent and 84 percent in Oakland and Birmingham, respectively. In Oakland, Wave I consisted of 787 respondents. Sixty-four percent of those interviewed in Wave I were reinterviewed in Wave II. In Birmingham, Wave I consisted of 580 respondents. Seventy-six percent of those individuals were reinterviewed for Wave II. In Oakland, structured observations were conducted in 82 out of 220 (37 percent) Special Duty Unit 3 tours. This resulted in 483 observations.

None

1994-03-10

2005-11-04

2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

2002-06-27 The codebook, data collection instruments, and user guide were converted from ASCII to PDF and combined into one file.

1994-03-10 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Notes

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
NACJD logo

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.