The New York Police Department is expanding a program that tries to stop robberies by intervening in the lives of young offenders even though an internal report says it is not working, reports the New York Times. The report found that the Juvenile Robbery Intervention Program (J-RIP) did not change the likelihood that the mostly black and Hispanic men it targeted would commit robberies again. The report studied arrest patterns over several years among teenagers in the program and comparable teenagers outside of it. Top police officials say the robbery program is still valuable because of the good will it fosters in minority communities, a goal that has grown in importance for the police department as it seeks to enhance its image after a series of national protests over police practices.
Officials argue that the program is popular with community members and could help create inroads between officers and minority teenagers that would not otherwise exist, even if the department's own evidence does not show any effect on crime. The claim that the robbery program is improving police-community relations is much harder to back up with data, and marks a shift from how the program was presented in 2009, when it was seen as a crime reduction strategy. The Times obtained a copy of the report, which has not been released publicly, via a state Freedom of Information Law request. The findings mirrored those from another unreleased internal review from 2012. “Almost 91 percent of the original J-RIP participants had additional contacts with the police,” the chief of patrol, James O'Neill, told the City Council in March, summarizing the results of that earlier study. “So the program didn't translate into a significant decrease in participants reoffending.”