Natural Experiment on Policing Underway

We’re about to find out what would happen if policing decreased by 66%-94%:

It’s not a slowdown — it’s a virtual work stoppage.

NYPD traffic tickets and summonses for minor offenses have dropped off by a staggering 94 percent following the execution of two cops — as officers feel betrayed by the mayor and fear for their safety, The Post has learned. […]

…overall arrests down 66 percent for the week starting Dec. 22 compared with the same period in 2013, stats show.

Citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587, during that time frame.

Summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination also plunged 94 percent — from 4,831 to 300.

Even parking violations are way down, dropping by 92 percent, from 14,699 to 1,241.

 

NYPD by Flickr user Brett Sayer

Ask yourself this: is this likely to be better or worse for the city of New York?

A recent study found that older hospitalized heart patients did better when their specialists were away at national conferences. Treatment effects are difficult to test because we tell ourselves that experimenting by withholding treatment is wrong. But every so often the world throws us a natural experiment, where treatment is withheld unavoidably and independently of predicted outcomes.

Many of my collaborators use the word abolition when it comes to police and prisons, and while I balk at that language I can see their point and share many of their goals. Now it looks like we’re going to get some data to help organize our thinking about that debate, because the police have effectively abolished themselves in New York City!

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