The Effect of Police Slowdowns on Crime
Am Law Econ Rev (2016) 18 (2): 385-437
56 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2009 Last revised: 4 Apr 2017
Date Written: August 31, 2016
Though police strikes have been well studied, there are almost no articles written on the public safety consequences of police work slowdowns---labor actions where police officers reduce their ticket-writing and/or arrest productivity for a temporary period. This article fills the current void by presenting evidence on the 1997 New York City Police Department work slowdown, to my knowledge the longest documented police slowdown in US history. Drawing on several, originally-collected data sources from the NYPD and other city agencies, the article assesses the impact of the slowdown on ticket enforcement, arrest enforcement, and crime. The findings indicate that, at least in the context of contract-motivated slowdowns where the union may be motivated to garner public support for pay increases, the effects on public safety may be limited. Specifically, in the case of the 1997 slowdown, ticket-writing for all categories of tickets fell dramatically but arrest enforcement for all types of serious crime stayed the same or increased. Accordingly, the crime effects were mostly concentrated in the area of minor criminal disorder (misdemeanors and violations). Only two categories of serious crime (larcenies and assaults) were affected and those crime increases were minimal.
Keywords: policing, slowdowns, quasi-experiments
JEL Classification: J52, K14, K31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation