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Using Terror Alert Levels to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime

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  • Klick, Jonathan
  • Tabarrok, Alexander

Abstract

Changes in the terror alert level set by the Department of Homeland Security provide a shock to police presence in Washington, D.C. Using daily crime data during the period the terror alert system has been in place, we show that the level of crime decreases significantly, both statistically and economically, during high-alert periods. The decrease in the level of crime is especially large in the National Mall. This provides strong evidence of the causal effect of police on the level of crime and suggests a research strategy that can be used in other cities.

Suggested Citation

  • Klick, Jonathan & Tabarrok, Alexander, 2005. "Using Terror Alert Levels to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 267-279, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:y:2005:v:48:i:1:p:267-79
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/426877
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    1. Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-290, June.
    2. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & José A. Scheinkman, 1996. "Crime and Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 507-548.
    3. Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effects of Police on Crime: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1244-1250, September.
    4. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    5. H. Naci Mocan & Hope Corman, 2000. "A Time-Series Analysis of Crime, Deterrence, and Drug Abuse in New York City," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 584-604, June.
    6. Justin McCrary, 2002. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1236-1243, September.
    7. Cameron, Samuel, 1988. "The Economics of Crime Deterrence: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 301-323.
    8. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2004. "Do Police Reduce Crime? Estimates Using the Allocation of Police Forces After a Terrorist Attack," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 115-133, March.
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