Could innovations in policing have contributed to the New York city crime drop even in a period of declining police strength? The case of stop, question and frisk as a hot spots policing strategy

David Weisburd, Cody W. Telep, Brian A. Lawton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations


Available data make it impossible to reach strong conclusions about the role of policing in the New York crime decline. Instead, we examine whether innovations implemented in New York fit with what is known about effective policing strategies. Our main analysis focuses on how the New York City Police Department (NYPD) could have continued to contribute to the crime drop over the last decade when the number of police declined significantly. We examine geographic data on crime and stop, question and frisks (SQFs) to show that SQFs are concentrated at crime hot spots. We also show that the NYPD increased these specific hot spots policing strategies despite declining numbers. In our discussion, we speculate on whether this “doing more with less” could be an explanation for the continued crime drop in New York, noting the limitations of drawing conclusions from existing data. We also raise concerns about possible backfire effects of SQF hot spots approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-153
Number of pages25
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014



  • Crime decline
  • Hot spots policing
  • New York City
  • Police innovation
  • Question and frisk
  • Stop

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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