A quasi-experiment testing a public participation process for designing and implementing an enforcement program among minorities
The present study aimed at developing and empirically evaluating an innovative public participation process for designing and implementing a specially tailored traffic enforcement program in minority communities. During the multi-stage process, participants were actively involved in decision-making, including identifying “dark” hot spots—places where offenses and risky behavior recur but might not be known to the police—and designing a customized enforcement program and community projects.
The research employed a quasi-experimental design with experimental and control groups and two waves of data collection (before and after the intervention) using two matched pairs of randomly selected Israeli Arab localities. The intervention comprised the public participation process and implementation by police of the traffic enforcement program designed during the process. The effect of the intervention on drivers’ and passengers’ behavior and traffic violations was evaluated by systematic field observations on a total of 12,236 vehicles.
A meaningful and significant reduction in traffic violations was observed in the experimental localities after the intervention. In contrast, a small increase in violations was found in the control localities.
The results indicate that a public participation process aimed at identifying dark hot spots in the community, followed by finding and applying tailored solutions for these problems, can positively affect drivers’ and passengers’ behavior and reduce traffic violations.
KeywordsCommunity policing Crime prevention Ethnic and racial minorities Experiment Hot spots Dark hot spots Legitimacy Public participation process Problem-oriented policing Traffic enforcement Traffic violations
The study was supported by a grant from the Research Fund on Insurance Matters affiliated with the Israel Insurance Association, and was initiated while the author was affiliated with the School of Criminology at the University of Haifa. Thanks are due to the Israeli police, the local councils of the experimental localities, and the research team and observers, led by Mary Jabbour-Nassrallah and Nissim Galam Even Hen. Special thanks go to the participants of the public participation process who contributed their time and wisdom and produced such fruitful deliberations.
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