The current study analyzes the crime reduction effect of a police sub-station operating within a business improvement district in Newark, NJ. Synthetic control methods were used to create a control group that was statistically equivalent to the cumulative street units in the target area. Significant reductions of burglary and motor vehicle theft were observed in the target area as compared to a synthetic control area over the post-intervention period. Robbery and theft from auto, conversely, suffered from spatial displacement. Of the six police actions included in the process evaluation, quality-of-life summonses and directed patrols increased in the post-intervention period, while parking summonses significantly decreased.
Results of this study suggest that the effect of sub-stations on crime likely depends on certain contextual factors. Newark’s sub-station was not a stand-alone facility, but the headquarters of a police unit given jurisdiction over the target area. Therefore, the opening of the sub-station represented an increase in visible police presence. The effect of the sub-station was heightened when accompanied by increases in proactive policing activities. Agencies wishing to effectively address robbery and theft from auto may have to design sub-station strategies in a manner that better influences offender decision making in order to prevent displacement.