Does Walking the Beat Matter? The Impact of Local Police on Crime

Student Author(s)

Grant Ludema

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sarah Estelle

Document Type


Event Date



What components work to reduce crime? This has been an important field of research within economics over the last half of a century. Since Becker (1974) established the foundational framework, this science of crime economics has been expanded on. If criminals behave rationally, responding to incentives and punishment just as any other person in society, then crime deterrence becomes a question of reducing the benefit of crime and/or increasing the cost. This research examines the impact that the local police force, defined as a police force dedicated to one locality (the city’s sole police force not incorporated by a neighboring municipality or county), has on crime. By employing a series of Ordinary Least Squares analysis of Unified Crime Reports and census data taken from the local, state, and federal level, it is possible to determine if having a local police force has a significant correlation with crime. The extensions from this research provide insight into methods to deter crime, which is of great importance from a public policy perspective. Local police appear to be significant and deter crime. Future work should explore possible mechanisms relating to the differences that a local versus nonlocal police department may offer and how this works to shape the overall criminal behavior of a city.

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