This paper describes how the Philadelphia Police Department instituted a large-scale randomized controlled trial of foot patrol as a policing strategy and experienced 23 percent fewer violent crimes during the treatment period. The authors examine whether activities patrol officers were conducting might have produced the crime reduction. The activities of foot and car patrol officers research takes a closer look at what types are examined separately and differences between car patrol activities pre-intervention and during the intervention are explored. Activities of foot versus car patrol officers during the study period are compared across treatment and control areas.
There were noticeable differences in the activities conducted by foot and car patrol. Foot patrol officers spent most of their time initiating pedestrian stops and addressing disorder incidents, while car patrol officers handled the vast majority of reported crime incidents. Car patrol activity declined in both treatment and control areas during the intervention but there was no statistically significant difference between the treatment and the control areas.
The study provides evidence that individual policing strategies undertaken by agencies impact one another. When implementing and evaluating new programs, it would be beneficial for police managers and researchers to consider the impact on activities of the dominant patrol style, as necessary, to understand how a specific intervention might have achieved its goal or why it might have failed to show an effect.