Broken Windows Policing and Crime: Evidence from 80 Colombian Cities

32 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2021

See all articles by Daniel Mejia

Daniel Mejia

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics

Ervyn Norza

Policía Nacional de Colombia

Santiago Tobon

Universidad EAFIT

Martín Vanegas-Arias

Universidad EAFIT - School of Economics and Finance - Center for Research in Economic & Finance (CIEF)

Date Written: September 3, 2021

Abstract

We study the effects of broken windows policing on crime using geo-located crime and arrest reports for 80 Colombian cities. Broadly defined, broken windows policing consists of intensifying arrests—sometimes for minor offenses—to deter potential criminals. To estimate causal effects, we build grids of 200 × 200 meters over the urban perimeter of all cities and produce event studies to look at the effects of shocks in police activity in the periods to follow. We use spikes in the number of arrests with no warrant—which are more likely associated with unplanned police presence—as a proxy for shocks in broken windows policing. As expected, we observe an increase in crimes during the shock period, as each arrest implies at least one crime report. In the following periods, crimes decrease both in the place of the arrests and the surroundings. With many treated grids and many places exposed to spillovers, these effects add up. On aggregate, the crime reduction offsets the observed increase during the shock period. Direct effects are more immediate and precise at low crime grids, but beneficial spillovers seem more relevant at crime hot spots. The effects of broken windows policing circumscribe to cities with low or moderate organized crime, consistent with criminal organizations planning their activities more systematically than disorganized criminals.

Keywords: crime, violence, police, arrests, spillovers

JEL Classification: K42, O17, E26, J48, C93

Suggested Citation

Mejia, Daniel and Norza, Ervyn and Tobon, Santiago and Vanegas Arias, Martín, Broken Windows Policing and Crime: Evidence from 80 Colombian Cities (September 3, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3917187 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3917187

Daniel Mejia (Contact Author)

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics ( email )

Carrera 1 No. 18 A - 10
Bogotá, AA4976
Colombia
57(1)3394949 ext 3737 (Phone)
57(1)3324492 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://economia.uniandes.edu.co/share/scripts/home/home.php

Ervyn Norza

Policía Nacional de Colombia ( email )

Santiago Tobon

Universidad EAFIT ( email )

Carrera 49 No. 7 South - 50
Bogota
Colombia

HOME PAGE: http://www.santiagotobon.co

Martín Vanegas Arias

Universidad EAFIT - School of Economics and Finance - Center for Research in Economic & Finance (CIEF) ( email )

Carrera 49 No. 7 South - 50
Bogotá
Colombia

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