62 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2016 Last revised: 30 Apr 2017

See all articles by Stephen Rushin

Stephen Rushin

Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Griffin Sims Edwards

University of Alabama at Birmingham - Department of Marketing, Industrial Distribution & Economics

Date Written: April 1, 2016


Critics have long claimed that when the law regulates police behavior it inadvertently reduces officer aggressiveness, thereby increasing crime. This hypothesis has taken on new significance in recent years as prominent politicians and law enforcement leaders have argued that increased oversight of police officers in the wake of the events in Ferguson, Missouri has led to an increase in national crime rates. Using a panel of American law enforcement agencies and difference-in-difference regression analyses, this Article tests whether the introduction of public scrutiny or external regulation is associated with changes in crime rates. To do this, this Article relies on an original dataset of all police departments that have been subject to federally mandated reform under 42 U.S.C. § 14141 — the most invasive form of modern American police regulation. This Article finds that the introduction of § 14141 regulation was associated with a statistically significant uptick in some crime rates, relative to unaffected municipalities. This uptick in crime was concentrated in the years immediately after federal intervention and diminished over time. This finding suggests that police departments may expe- rience growing pains when faced with external regulation.

Keywords: policing, crime, police misconduct, civil rights, de-policing, Ferguson effect

Suggested Citation

Rushin, Stephen and Edwards, Griffin Sims, De-Policing (April 1, 2016). 102 Cornell Law Review 721 (2017); U of Alabama Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2758424. Available at SSRN:

Stephen Rushin (Contact Author)

Loyola University Chicago School of Law ( email )

25 E. Pearson
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Griffin Sims Edwards

University of Alabama at Birmingham - Department of Marketing, Industrial Distribution & Economics ( email )

The University of Alabama at Birmingham
1720 2nd Ave South
Birmingham, AL 35294
United States

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