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Objectives: This study presents a cost–benefit analysis of an intervention pairing proactive CCTV monitoring with directed police patrol in Newark, NJ. A recent randomized control trial found that the strategy generated significant crime reductions in treatment areas relative to control areas. The current study focuses on the financial implications of the experimental strategy through a cost–benefit analysis.

Methods: The study begins by measuring the costs and benefits associated with the experimental strategy, the findings of which can inform agencies with existing CCTV infrastructure. Follow-up analyses measure the costs and benefits of the intervention for agencies absent existing CCTV infrastructure, meaning a CCTV system would have to be funded in addition to the intervention outputs. Alongside overall benefits, this study presents the tangible cost savings afforded to the Criminal Justice system as well as to each of the separate criminal justice (CJ) system components: Policing, Courts, and Corrections.

Results: We found the experimental strategy to be highly cost effective for agencies with existing CCTV infrastructure. However, when the cost of the CCTV system is considered, the strategy is largely cost prohibitive. While the cumulative societal and criminal justice findings suggest some evidence of a modest cost savings, the strategy is highly cost prohibitive for each of the individual CJ system components when CCTV system costs are included.

Conclusions: Results suggest that the experimental strategy is a worthwhile investment for agencies with existing CCTV infrastructure. Agencies absent CCTV may want to consider whether funds would be better allocated towards alternate strategies.


This article was originally published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology, available at DOI 10.1007/s11292-016-9267-x.

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