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How does oversight affect police? Evidence from the police misconduct reform


  • Long, Wei


This paper assesses how Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations affect policing behaviors. From 2010 – 2013, nine local police agencies were investigated for civil rights violations and police misconduct and most reached settlements with the DOJ. These settlements mandate extensive reforms such as retraining of officers, collaboration with community representatives and modernization of procedures related to the use of force. Using both the synthetic control method and the panel data approach proposed by Hsiao et al. (2012), I find a significant reduction in misdemeanor arrests of blacks during that period. However, I do not observe a meaningful impact on felony arrests and arrests of whites. These findings suggest that the investigations indeed affected officers’ policing behaviors, but I find no evidence of universal de-policing effects in the investigated agencies.

Suggested Citation

  • Long, Wei, 2019. "How does oversight affect police? Evidence from the police misconduct reform," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 94-118.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:168:y:2019:i:c:p:94-118
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.10.003

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    More about this item


    Consent decree; Investigation; Synthetic control; Treatment effect;

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law


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