Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice, Northeastern University
- There was a significant increase in crime within the Capitol Hill Occupation Protest (CHOP) zone in Seattle, Washington, the encompassing two-block area, and the overall East precinct service area during the 24-day occupation period following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
In the article, “The effect of the Seattle Police-Free CHOP zone on crime: A microsynthetic control evaluation,” Eric Piza and his co-authors examine the effects of the lack of police presence surrounding the Capitol Hill Occupation Protest (CHOP) in Seattle, Washington, which took place in response to the murder of George Floyd in 2020. The study analyzed the impact of CHOP on crime during the 24-day occupation during which the Seattle Police Department’s East precinct was abandoned, and the surrounding area became an autonomous zone. The team largely used data from the City of Seattle Open Data portal, analyzing data from more than one year prior to CHOP with two microsynth models to understand average and seasonal crime trends. The results show a significant increase in crime within the CHOP zone, the encompassing two-block area, and the overall East precinct service area during the occupation period. The study suggests that calls to abolish the police may compromise public safety. Authors recommend supporting evidence-based crime prevention work of the police and community-based institutions as a prudent policy solution. Due to the limitations of the short time period, specific geographic dimensions of the CHOP area, and interpretations of the analyses, the authors note the need for additional studies to improve on the methodologies outlined here to test the effect of police presence (or lack thereof) on crime.