Free DP Download 12 September 2019 - HOW TO DEPLOY LIMITED POLICE RESOURCES EFFECTIVELY: Evidence from India

Thursday, September 12, 2019

THE EFFICIENT DEPLOYMENT OF POLICE RESOURCES: Theory and New Evidence from a Randomized Drunk Driving Crackdown in India
Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banerjee, Daniel Keniston  
CEPR DP No. 13981 | 03 September 2019

Should police activity should be narrowly focused on high crime spots, or more widely dispersed? Critics of intense ‘hot spot’ policing argue that it primarily displaces, not reduces, crime. 

A new study by Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banerjee and Daniel Keniston aims to improve our understanding by using data from a randomised controlled experiment on an anti-drink driving campaign in Rajasthan, India. In each police station, sobriety checkpoints were either rotated among three locations or fixed in the best location, and the intensity of the crackdown was cross-randomised. 

The results show that rotating checkpoints reduced night accidents by 17%, and night deaths by 25%, while fixed checkpoints had no significant effects. The conclusion is that there is clear evidence of learning, hence police interventions focused on the single location with the highest prior concentration of criminal activity are rapidly undone by the diversion of criminal activity to other areas.  

In contrast, an intervention spread across multiple, initially less promising, locations causes a significant decrease in road accidents and deaths. But just as drivers learn about the beginning of police enforcement, they also learn that it has come to an end, initiating a slow reversion of driver behaviour and a return to drink driving after the intervention.  

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