Science Says These Police Tactics Reduce Crime

By Dina Fine Maron

When Bill de Blasio first ran for New York City mayor four years ago, ending “stop-and-frisk” police searches was a cornerstone of his campaign. Critics warned halting the practice would fuel crime. But this week de Blasio coasted into reelection against a backdrop of historically low crime rates.

The city of more than 8.5 million people has seen fewer than 300 murders so far in 2017. That puts its body count lower than much-smaller jurisdictions including Baltimore, a city of fewer than 620,000 people where 303 people have been murdered this year, and Chicago, where the number has risen above 580 in a population of 2.7 million.

So what factors can really help drive down crime? The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said in a report released Thursday that certain “proactive” policies aimed at preventing crime before it happens—including stop and frisk—show mixed results. Yet it is not enough to simply identify what policies appear to reduce crime, a panel convened by the National Academies cautions in the report. Authorities must also consider the real-world risks of applying these approaches in ways that are racist, biased or illegal, they wrote.

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