Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Policing

The Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment was a landmark study in policing that demonstrated a lack of effectiveness of traditional preventive patrol, opening the door for innovations in policing.

The Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment was a significant study in the history of policing that aimed to investigate the effectiveness of preventive patrol, one of the most commonly used policing strategies in the United States at the time. The study was conducted in 1972 by the Kansas City Police Department with the assistance of researchers from the Police Foundation.

The experiment was designed to test the belief that increasing police patrols in certain areas would lead to a decrease in crime rates. The researchers divided a 15-square-mile area of Kansas City into three groups: a control group where patrols remained unchanged, an experimental group where patrols were increased, and a third group where patrols were decreased. The study lasted for a year and analyzed crime rates, citizen perceptions of police, and response times.

The findings of the experiment were surprising to many law enforcement professionals and researchers. The study revealed that increasing the level of police patrols did not result in a significant reduction in crime rates. Neither did decreasing patrols lead to an increase in crime rates. The study also found that citizens’ perceptions of police were not significantly affected by the level of police patrols.

The results of the Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment had significant implications for the field of policing. They challenged the traditional belief that more police patrols equate to greater public safety. The findings of the study led to a shift in policing strategies towards community-oriented policing, problem-oriented policing, and other approaches that prioritize problem-solving and building relationships between police officers and the community they serve.

One of the main takeaways from the experiment was the need to focus on crime prevention strategies that are evidence-based and supported by data. It also demonstrated the importance of evaluating the effectiveness of policing strategies to determine their impact on crime rates and the community.

Overall, the Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment had a significant impact on the field of policing and continues to inform police practices and strategies today. It is considered one of the most influential studies in the history of policing and serves as a reminder of the importance of evidence-based practices and evaluation in the field of criminal justice.

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Last Modified: 04/10/2023


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