The Effect of Police Slowdowns on Crime

Am Law Econ Rev (2016) 18 (2): 385-437

56 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2017

See all articles by Andrea Chandrasekher

Andrea Chandrasekher

University of California, Davis - School of Law

Date Written: August 3, 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, labor unions, slowdowns, crime, deterence, labor unrest

JEL Classification: J52, K14, K31

Suggested Citation

Chandrasekher, Andrea, The Effect of Police Slowdowns on Crime (August 3, 2016). Am Law Econ Rev (2016) 18 (2): 385-437. Available at SSRN:

Andrea Chandrasekher (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )

Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall
Davis, CA CA 95616-5201
United States

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