June, 2016

The Effect of Private Police on Crime

Evidence from a Geographic Regression Discontinuity Design
  • John M. MacDonald

  • Ben Grunwald

  • Jonathan Klick

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Find this article at Wiley Online Library. 

Research demonstrates that police reduce crime. We study this question by using a natural experiment in which a private university increased the number of police patrols within an arbitrarily defined geographic boundary. Capitalizing on the discontinuity in patrols at the boundary, we estimate that the extra police decreased crime in adjacent city blocks by 43–73%. Our results are consistent with findings from prior work that used other kinds of natural experiment. The paper demonstrates the utility of the geographic regression discontinuity design for estimating the effects of extra public or private services on a variety of outcomes.