Professor of Criminology, Florida State University
- In counties with a high police presence, residents perceived a slightly lower risk of being arrested.
- Black respondents perceived lower arrests for violent crimes such as homicide, assault, robbery, and burglary than White respondents.
- Police visibility does not influence the general deterrence of crime.
In the article, “Do More Police Lead to More Crime Deterrence?”, Kleck and his co-author examined the role that the amount of police officers and the perception of police have on crime rates and arrests. To conduct their study the authors administered a survey to 1,500 adults in 54 large urban counties across the United States to determine perceptions for crimes in their county. The authors hypothesized that in counties with high police visibility, residents would assess a high perception of crime/arrests. The results showed the opposite, in counties with a high police presence, residents perceived a slightly lower risk of being arrested. Overall, the data only showed weak correlations between police presence and jail ratio, arrest ratio, and crime perception. The results also showed differences between white and black respondents with Black respondents perceiving lower arrests for violent crime arrests such as homicide, assault, robbery, and burglary than White respondents. The authors note that this finding may be misleading as it could indicate lower risks for violent crime in Black populations, or might reflect inadequate policing in those neighborhoods, or something else altogether. The results of this study indicated police visibility does not influence the general deterrence of crime.