The Dayton Foot Patrol Program: An Evaluation of Hot Spots Foot Patrols in a Central Business District

Date01 September 2019
Published date01 September 2019
Subject MatterArticles
The Dayton Foot Patrol
Program: An Evaluation
of Hot Spots Foot
Patrols in a Central
Business District
Cory P. Haberman
Wendy H. Stiver
This study evaluated the Dayton Foot Patrol Program (DFPP). The DFPP spanned
28 weeks. During the DFPP, patrol officers were asked to conduct foot patrol in six
hot spots located in the downtown business district for at least 2 hours a day but
used their discretion to determine when, which hot spot, how long, and in which
ways to patrol. On average, roughly 9 hours of foot patrol were conducted each day
during the DFPP. Pre–post comparison statistics and pooled time series count
regression models were estimated. The DFPP was linked to reductions in total
crime in initial analyses, but only disorder crime incidents were statistically signifi-
cantly reduced once the outcome was disaggregated into crime-specific outcomes.
A diffusion of crime control benefits to nearby areas was also observed. The study’s
implications are that foot patrol can be implemented with fewer personnel resources
and still produce crime reductions in downtown business districts.
hot spots policing, place-based policing, foot patrol, police effectiveness
School of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati, OH, USA
Dayton Police Department, OH, USA
Corresponding Author:
Cory P.Haberman, School of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati, P.O. Box210389, 660H Teachers-
Dyer, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0389, USA.
Police Quarterly
2019, Vol. 22(3) 247–277
!The Author(s) 2018
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/1098611118813531
Scientif‌ically evaluating policing strategies and tactics is the only way to
determine if they have their intended effects and develop evidence on “what
works” in policing (see Sherman, 1998). A study concluding that a policing
strategy/tactic implemented in a particular way in one setting reduced crime,
however, does not guarantee it will reduce crime when implemented differently
in another setting (see Shadish, Cook, & Campbell, 2002, pp. 83–90). Rather
evaluations of police strategies must be replicated across implementations and
settings, among other characteristics, to fully understand the strategy/tactic’s
For example, foot patrol has been used since the inception of modern polic-
ing (Klockars, 1985), but evaluations of it illustrate how the results of policing
evaluations may vary across implementations and settings. Early evaluations of
foot patrol generally suggested it improved the public’s perceptions of the police
and crime but were inconclusive about its impact on actual crime levels when
implemented in large geographic areas, such as police beats (for a historical
overview, see Ratcliffe & Sorg, 2017, pp. 7–18). Alternatively, recent
evaluations have consistently shown foot patrol can reduce crime when
deployed in microlevel, crime hot spots at high dosages (Novak, Fox, Carr, &
Spade, 2016; Piza & O’Hara, 2014; Ratcliffe, Taniguchi, Groff, & Wood, 2011).
While recent foot patrol evaluations are promising, the resources needed to
implement foot patrol have long been a criticism of the tactic and a barrier to
its use (President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of
Justice, 1967, p. 54).
Moreover, downtown areas, or central business districts, are one unique set-
ting where police departments are under pressure to implement effective crime
reduction strategies. Many U.S. cities are attempting to revitalize their urban
cores after suburbanization, and improving perceived and actual crime levels is
one of the many issues these efforts face. Given foot patrol has improved the
public’s perceptions of crime and has been linked to crime reductions when
implemented in crime hot spots, it is a logical tactic to be used in downtown
areas. To date, however, very little research has tested the effectiveness of dif-
ferent policing strategies/tactics in downtown settings.
Therefore, the present study evaluated a hot spots policing (HSP) foot patrol
program in downtown Dayton, OH that sought to implement foot patrols using
a more resource-conservative framework. Specif‌ically, patrol off‌icers were asked
to conduct foot patrols within six crime hot spots located in the city’s central
business district during their discretionary time. Off‌icers used their discretion to
decide when and in which hot spots foot patrols would be performed but were
asked to attempt at least 2 hours of foot patrol per shift. Overall, the program
linked to less crime, particularly disorder crime, and a diffusion of crime control
benef‌its was observed in nearby areas.
248 Police Quarterly 22(3)

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