Kleck and Barnes Article Analysis Project
Arguably, many people over the years have stated that more police officers should be employed as it negatively encourages potential criminals from committing crimes. An example is during President Clinton’s tenure when congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The Act allowed the federal government to hire 100,000 police officers nationally. This article examines if employing more officers affects the rate of criminal activity in the area. Specialists in this field however argue that the said policy had been poorly researched at the time. However, Kleck and Barnes (2010) state that most researchers in police behavior argue that the number of police officers has little to no effects to crime rates in the area. This article will attempt to validate this argument through information and data collected.
In distinction, several non-experimental studies have argued of significant negative association between the strength of the police department and crime using different techniques. Some of these researchers argue a two-way relationship between crime rate and police involvement (Engel, Smith, and Cullen 2012). They argue that an increase in crime rates potentially increases the number of police hiring in the region while police presence reduces the crime rates in an area. They used evidence from New York to support this notion. Notably, according to public records, 25% increase in police presence in New York has significantly had a negative effect on gun homicides (Joanes 2000).
In retrospect, it is possible that publicity from media like television and newspapers among other forces are responsible for influencing the demand for police officers instead of real crime numbers. Crime news may influence the demand for more police officers. More importantly, crime news is largely unrelated to actual crime rates. Therefore, Kleck and Barnes (2010) argues that if crime rates do not affect police levels, the models relying on the two-way relationship may be highly flawed, therefore, presenting misleading results.
The deterrence hypothesis states that increase in certainty, severity, and swiftness in punishing crimes also reduce criminal activity. However, Kleck and Barnes (2010) argue that the supposed strength of the police department created by such scenarios may not be transferred to actual changes in arrest risk in potential criminals. Kleck and Barnes (2010) approach the above stated presumptions through statistical data collection and analysis.
Data and methods
This study was designed to analyze whether there existed a relationship between rates of police officers in the area and the arrest likelihood of potential criminals in a region.
Kleck and Barnes (2010) randomly selected individuals from 54 large urban counties across the United States. These counties were the largest among the 300 sampled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Judicial Reporting Program. According to research, these counties accounted for over 50% of the nation murders, 61.9% of the robberies, and 51.4 % of all violent crimes as per 1998. 1,500 adult responders were selected using random digit dialing sampling procedures. They generated the telephone numbers randomly using the area code and residential prefixes operative in that location. As a result, Kleck and Barnes (2010) notes that over 95% of all U.S households even those with unlisted numbers were included in the sample frame selected. Notably, the sample sizes for each county were proportionate to the population size of that county.
The study subjects were interviewed by telephone. At the beginning of each interview, members of the household were randomly selected by asking for a resident who was over 18 years of age or older who had most recently celebrated a birthday. These interviews were conducted in April and May of 1998 by a professional survey research firm.
Kleck and Barnes (2010) used both dependent and independent variables to perform the study. However, the only dependent variable was perceptions of arrest risks. It was measured by asking each respondent to estimate the likelihood of an arrest being made depending on the particular crime being committed. Crimes included burglary, homicide, aggravated assault, and robbery. The respondents were asked to describe using a number ranging from zero to 100.
Using independent variables, the strength of the police department was the first to be examined. Data on a number of full-time sworn police officers was obtained from the Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies. Data was in the form of a self-administered questionnaire, which was available at the agency level (Explaining patrol officer drug arrest activity through expectancy theory 2009). The data was aggregated creating a new variable that reflected the number of full time sworn police officers per 100 residents in each county.
Jail ratio was the next independent variable. In this variable, Kleck and Barnes (2010) argued that police manpower might affect perceptions of arrest risks by affecting the number of criminals incinerated. To analyze this data, Kleck and Barnes (2010) used the average daily population of jails aggregated up to the county level. This number was further standardized through dividing it with a population of each county and then multiplying by 100.
In the arrest ratio, the level of police manpower indirectly affected the perception of arrest risks by affecting the arrest rates. Therefore, Kleck and Barnes (2010) tested the impact of actual arrests ratios for each crime type on perceptions of certainty of arrest. Overall, Kleck and Barnes (2010) calculated their data-using mean, standard deviation, minimum and maximum to arrive at the results.
The results of the study showed that people who live in places with more police have a slightly lower risk of being arrested. In addition, Kleck and Barnes (2010) noted that with the exception of homicide, people who reside in places where police are more successful in solving crimes through arrests were no more likely to be arrested than people who lived in areas where police were less effective. Notably, the strength of the police department did not show a relationship with perceived arrests rates for any crime.
Comments, questions, and complaints
Overall, Kleck and Barnes (2010) states that the reason other studies showed a relationship between the strength of the police force and number of arrests was that a larger number of police officers made a larger number of arrest, which resulted to more criminal being arrested. Notably, criminals already arrested could not commit crimes regardless of their opinion on risks individuals ran of being arrested. Therefore, this group should not have been used in this study. However, it is quite unfortunate that police arrest more criminals than prisons can handle and therefore addition of police officers should be regarded with criticism.
Engel, R. S., Smith, M. R., & Cullen, F. T. (2012). Overview of: 'Race, Place, and Drug Enforcement: Reconsidering the Impact of Citizen Complaints and Crime Rates on Drug Arrests'. Criminology & Public Policy, 11(4), 601-602.
Explaining patrol officer drug arrest activity through expectancy theory. (2009). Policing, 32(1), 6-20.
Joanes, A. (2000). Does the New York City Police Department Deserves Credit for the Decline in New York City's Homicide Rates? A Cross-City Comparison of Policing Strategies and Homicide Rates. Columbia Journal Of Law & Social Problems, 33(3), 265.
Kleck, G., & Barnes, J. C. (2010). Do more police lead to more crime deterrence? Crime and Delinquency, 20 (10), 1-23.