Car Stops and Violent Crime Control: Crime in America.Net

One of us was operating a government vehicle (a fancier version than most) in a high-crime area and was pulled over by the police. The officer explained that he had not come to a full stop at a stop sign; an exaggeration at best.The officer asked him to explain his presence in the neighborhood. He pulled his government identification and explained that he was conducting official business. The officer apologized for the stop and explained that he looked like someone looking to purchase drugs. Our interpretation is that the driver was white while operating in a predominately black neighborhood known for outsiders buying drugs. 

Traffic stops in high-crime areas have been a staple of police crime control efforts for decades.  Research indicates that lawful stops of drivers and pedestrians in high-crime areas allow law enforcement to check for guns and drugs or any other nefarious activity. Even the most minor of violations can be considered lawful stops (littering by someone walking–not using a turn signal when driving). 

The connection between areas having lots of vehicle accidents and crime is that those places have lots of impulsive and risk prone drivers; the same kind of behavior that’s connected to violent acts.  Aggressively control one and you control the other. 

The link below comes from the National Institute of Justice of the US Department of Justice and provides an overview of crime reduction efforts involving aggressive traffic stops. 

Beyond all the nasty racial and public relations issues that come with such aggressiveness, traffic and pedestrian stops work to reduce neighborhood crime. The idea (pioneered by New York City) is not necessarily arrests but legal stops to look for guns and major amounts of drugs. Minor violations are often ignored so the hunt for guns can continue. 




  1. Crime and Punishment…

    We found your entry interesting so have added a Trackback to it on the Inner West Live weblog :)…

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