Military Policing Exacerbates Crime and May Increase Human Rights Abuses: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Cali, Colombia

95 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2021

See all articles by Robert Blair

Robert Blair

Brown University; Brown University - Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Michael Weintraub

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia

Date Written: September 16, 2021

Abstract

Governments across the developing world deploy their armed forces for domestic policing. Advocates of these policies tout their crime reduction effects, while detractors claim they undermine human rights. We experimentally evaluate a military policing intervention in Cali, Colombia, one of the country’s most violent cities. The intervention involved recurring, intensive military patrols targeting crime hotspots, randomly assigned at the city block level. Using administrative crime and human rights data, surveys of more than 10,000 residents, and firsthand observations from civilian monitors, we find that military policing had weak (if any) effects on crime during the intervention, and adverse effects following its completion. We observe higher rates of crime, crime witnessing, crime reporting, and arrests in the weeks after the intervention. We also find suggestive evidence of increased human rights abuses, committed by police officers rather than soldiers. The benefits of military policing likely are small and not worth the costs.

Keywords: military policing, field experiments, crime, policing, Colombia

JEL Classification: K42, J48, C93

Suggested Citation

Blair, Robert and Weintraub, Michael, Military Policing Exacerbates Crime and May Increase Human Rights Abuses: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Cali, Colombia (September 16, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3925245 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3925245

Robert Blair

Brown University ( email )

Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States

Brown University - Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

111 Thayer Street
Box 1970
Providence, RI 02912-1970
United States

Michael Weintraub (Contact Author)

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia ( email )

Carrera Primera # 18A-12
Bogota, DC D.C. 110311
Colombia

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