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Purpose: This study tests whether the effect of police actions is influenced by similar crime generators and attractors (CGAs) that influence crime. Said differently, in recognition that the presence of CGAs presents higher risk of crime at certain places, we test whether CGAs similarly create a situation where specific police enforcement actions are more effective at certain types of places than others.

Methods: Using longitudinal logistic regression models incorporating panel data, we measure the effect of various police enforcement actions on gun violence in Newark, NJ. Risk Terrain Modeling (RTM) was further used to test whether the effect of the enforcement activities vary across spatial contexts.

Results: When considered on their own, police enforcement actions were associated with increased likelihood of gun violence. However, certain types of enforcement actions conducted where CGAs highly co-locate, as identified through RTM, were associated with decreased likelihood of gun violence.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that where officers conduct enforcement activities may be as important as what precise enforcement activities they enact. This has implications for the place-based policing tactics. Understanding the spatial context of high-crime areas can help police design strategies in a manner that maximizes their crime prevention utility.


This work was originally published in Journal of Criminal Justice.

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