Police Officer Assignment and Neighborhood Crime

54 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2021 Last revised: 28 May 2023

See all articles by Bocar A. Ba

Bocar A. Ba

University of Pennsylvania

Patrick J. Bayer

Duke University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Nayoung Rim

United States Naval Academy - Department of Economics; University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy

Roman Rivera

Columbia University

Modibo Sidibe

Duke University

Date Written: September 2021

Abstract

We develop an empirical model of the mechanism used to assign police officers to Chicago districts and examine the efficiency and equity of alternative allocations. Chicago, like most major US cities, uses a bidding process that grants priority based on seniority, resulting in the assignment of the least experienced officers to the most violent and lowest-income neighborhoods. Our empirical model combines estimates of heterogeneous officer preferences underlying the bidding process with causal estimates of officer experience on neighborhood crime and policing. We find that more experienced officers are more effective at deterring violent crime while also being much less likely to use force in comparable policing contexts. We estimate that equalizing officer seniority across districts would reduce Chicago’s overall violent crime rate by 4.6 percent and officer use of force by 10 percent. Inequality in crime, and officer use of force across neighborhoods would also decrease sharply. Given officer preferences, we show that this assignment can be achieved in a revenue-neutral way while resulting in small welfare gains for police officers, implying that it is both more equitable and more efficient.

Suggested Citation

Ba, Bocar A. and Bayer, Patrick J. and Rim, Nayoung and Rivera, Roman and Sidibe, Modibo, Police Officer Assignment and Neighborhood Crime (September 2021). NBER Working Paper No. w29243, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3922517

Bocar A. Ba (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Patrick J. Bayer

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

213 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nayoung Rim

United States Naval Academy - Department of Economics ( email )

589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402
United States

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Roman Rivera

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Modibo Sidibe

Duke University ( email )

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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