Study: L.A. Cut Homeless-Related Crime, Didn’t Displace It


Los Angeles’ Safer Cities Initiative is an effective strategy for reducing homeless-related crime without merely displacing crime to other areas, criminologists Richard Berk and John MacDonald of the University of Pennsylvania say in the journal Criminology & Public Policy, based on 8 years of crime data. The initiative is a policing intervention implemented in downtown Los Angeles' Skid Row, which was highly populated with homeless people frequently engaging in various forms of crime and disorder. The study supports the notion that geographically targeted police interventions can be useful tools to reduce crime without displacing it.

In the journal, available to members of the American Society of Criminology, and journalists on request, Anthony Braga of Harvard University and Rutgers University, suggests that police departments need to be more refined in their approach to crime and disorder issues, including those associated with homelessness. Dennis Culhane of the University of Pennsylvania, Alex Vitale of Brooklyn College, and Michael White of Arizona State University argue for recognizing that homelessness is not a crime and addressing its underlying causes. Specific strategies include providing indigent populations with community-based services and support to help find permanent housing and mental health treatment. Michael Rowe and Maria O'Connell of Yale University, Alex Piquero of Florida State University, and John Eck of the University of Cincinnati argue that homelessness and related crime require attention to a wide range of policy practices that integrate social, economic, and criminal justice approaches.

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