With wide-ranging expertise in the field of criminal justice, the Police Research Center works in collaboration with professional training institutes and academics at Sam Houston State University to identify cutting edge research to address emerging issues in the criminal justice field. The center works hand-in-hand with law enforcement agencies in the development and evaluation of programs and initiatives. Here is a partial list of our most recently published studies.

Cihan, A. (2014). Social disorganization and police performance to burglary calls: A tale of two cities. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 37(2), 340-354. [ LINK ]

The analysis of the DPD and HPD in-progress calls produced somewhat consistent findings on the relationship between the level of social disorganization and police response time. Concentrated disadvantage, immigrant concentration, and residential stability are important predictors of the distribution of police response time patterns in Dallas and Houston.

Cihan, A., Hoover, L.T., & Zhang, Y. (2012). Police response time to in-progress burglary: A multilevel analysis. Police Quarterly, 15(3), 308-327. [ LINK ]

The need for rapid response has been a perennial issue in policing. Although several studies have examined the effect of response time on apprehension probability, little attention has been given to the relationship between police response time and community characteristics. Using 2007 call for service data from the Houston Police Department and 2000 census statistics, the current study examines the relationship between police response time to in-progress burglary calls and neighborhood characteristics. In addition, the effects of incident characteristics on the likelihood of arrest are examined. The results suggest that disadvantaged neighborhoods enjoy a shorter police response whereas rapid response increases the probability of in-progress burglary apprehension.

Hoover, L. (2014). Police crime control strategies, (1st ed.). Independence, KY: Delmar/Cengage Publishing. [ LINK ]

POLICE CRIME CONTROL STRATEGIES is a practical, realistic, one-of-a-kind book that provides readers with a balanced assessment of approaches to police crime reduction. Written by an expert in the field of law enforcement, this book covers the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of approaches including crime-specific, community-oriented, problem-oriented, hot spot targeting, concentrated patrol deployment, broken windows enforcement, and intelligence-guided. Opening chapters trace the accumulating evidence for the substantial impact upon crime that focused police efforts can have. Community and problem-oriented programs are reviewed in the context of their employment for crime reduction. State-of-the-art strategies are organized by three targeting foci: geographic, offense, and offender. The role of investigative units in proactive crime reduction is critically assessed and Compstat as a framework receives special attention. Also discussed are crime strategy meetings, and staffing and deployment for crime control. Care is taken to review both the successes and failures of structured efforts both in suburban environments and major cities so that readers are provided with an unbiased overview of policing in the real world.

Hoover, L., Wells, W., Zhang, Y., Ren, L., & Zhao, J. (2016). Houston Enhanced Action Patrol: Examining the effects of differential deployment lengths with a switched replication design. Justice Quarterly, 33(3), 538-563. [ LINK ]

Studies have tested variations of concentrated patrol combined with intense field interrogations, broken windows enforcement, Compstat accountability, and problem-oriented approaches. Although a majority of findings support the efficacy of concentrated patrol, a substantial number do not. Questions remain regarding six variables: dimension, dosage, duration, displacement, diffusion, and denouement. This study tested differential deployment lengths of geographically concentrated, proactive patrol for an additional 80 h per week in 13 high crime beats in Houston, TX. The original purpose was to identify optimal lengths of deployment periods. The study used a switched replication design with repeated treatments over deployment periods ranging from 4 to 12 weeks. Meaningful reductions in suppressible street crime occurred in only 2 of the 13 beats. The two beats were among the smallest, had among the highest crime rates, and received the highest dosage of concentrated patrol.

Jang, H., Lee, C., & Hoover, L. T. (2012). Dallas' disruption unit: Efficacy of hot spots deployment. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 35(3), 593 - 614. [ LINK ]

It was found that the DPD's Disruption Unit's hot spots policing immediately affected violent crimes, nuisance offenses, and total index crimes, while there were no residual effects of hot spots policing. The Disruption Unit was engaged in policing activities that include motor vehicle and pedestrian stops, issuing citations, and making arrests. Among these activities, the number of police stops was the most significant factor for the reduction in violent crime and nuisance offenses. Research limitations/implications - The researchers use a patrol sector as a unit of analysis in order to compare the influence of various types of police activities on crime across a broader area. Future research should consider using an intermediate geographic unit of analysis (e.g. patrol beat).

Jang, H., Hoover, L., & Joo, H. (2010). An evaluation of Compstat's effect on crime: The Fort Worth experience. Police Quarterly, 13(4), 387-412. [ LINK ]

Compstat as a policing strategy became popular following the significant crime reduction in New York City during the 1990s. As an innovative management strategy in policing, Compstat attracted considerable attention from scholars and police practitioners. Despite its popularity, little empirical research has scientifically evaluated the effectiveness of the Compstat strategy. In addition, few studies have concentrated on Compstat strategies implemented during the 2000s outside New York City. This study examines the effectiveness of Compstat as implemented by the Fort Worth (Texas) Police Department (FWPD). Using monthly time-series arrest and crime data over a multiyear period, the study examines whether Compstat engendered a significant increase in "broken windows" arrests (minor nuisance offenses) and, using multivariate time-series analysis, the role of the Compstat strategy in explaining changes in violent, property, and total index crimes. Findings indicate that the implementation of Compstat significantly increased some types of broken windows arrests in the FWPD whereas others decreased. Analysis indicates significant decreases in property and total index crime rates after controlling for rival factors, but fails to show a significant change in violent crime rates. If the Fort Worth strategic approach to Compstat had to be described with a single word, it would be focusing. The Queensland study of Compstat also reported using a problem-oriented intervention model-focusing-in lieu of a broken windows approach (Mazerolle, Rombouts, & McBroom, 2007). Property crime was significantly reduced in both settings. Parallel findings from two differently constituted Compstat programs on two different continents provides evidence that the primary component of the Compstat model is focusing, not broken windows enforcement, and the primary impact is on property crime.

Khruakham, S., & Hoover, L.T. (2012). The impact of situational and contextual factors on police arrest decisions: An analysis from the New York Police Department. Law Enforcement Executive Forum, 12(1), 122-135. [ LINK ]

Lai, Y., Zhao, J. S., & Longmire, D. (2012). Specific crime-fear linkage: The effect of actual burglary incidents reported to the police on residents' fear of burglary. Journal of Crime & Justice, 35(1), 13-34. [ LINK ]

In the past four decades, most studies examining fear of crime have focused on the relationship between the overall crime phenomenon and general fear of crime. Wilcox Rountree argued that fear of crime is a multidimensional concept, suggesting that different types of crime/victimization may lead to specific crime-fear linkages. This study tested Wilcox Rountree's thesis by examining the association between actual burglaries reported to the police and residents' fear of burglary. Using data from a random telephone survey of 737 respondents living in Houston, Texas, the findings suggest that burglary incidents surrounding each respondent's residence had a significant impact on their expressed fear of burglary, while the numbers of violent and/or disorder incidents were not correlated with burglary-specific fear. In addition, the results show that fear of burglary was significantly associated with respondents' race (i.e., African American), home ownership, victimization experience, and satisfaction with police work.

Lai, Y. & Zhao, S. (2010). The impact of race/ethnicity, neighborhood context, and police/citizen interaction on residents' attitudes toward the police. Journal of Criminal Justice. 38(4), 685-692. [ LINK ]

The purpose of this study was to extend the current knowledge of public attitudes toward the police. Independent variables derived from three models, the demographic, the neighborhood context, and the police/citizen interaction models, were used to explain public perceptions of the police. More specifically, public attitudes toward the police was measured in two dimensions - General Attitudes toward the police and Specific Trust in the police. The data was obtained by a telephone survey of 756 respondents in Houston, TX in 2008. The primary findings suggested that race, gender, age, victimization, and satisfaction with police work were significant predictors. Hispanic respondents reported lower levels of General Attitudes toward the police than their White counterparts. In addition, there was no significant difference between Whites and Hispanics in terms of Specific Trust in police such as the use of Taser guns. These results and their practical implications for police agencies were addressed in discussion.

Lee, B., Lee, J.., & Hoover, L. (2013). Neighborhood characteristics and auto theft: An analysis employing the social disorganization perspective. Security Journal. Advance online publication. [ LINK ]

Despite the prevalence of auto theft and associated economic loss, the offense is relatively underexplored in the literature. The current study examines auto theft in the context of social disorganization theory. Using 2000 US Census data and 2005 Houston Police Department incident reports, auto theft rates across census tracts are compared on four dimensions of neighborhood social disorganization. Multivariate analysis indicates support for social disorganization theory; concentrated disadvantage, residential stability and racial heterogeneity had a significant effect on auto theft rates. In contrast, neighborhood immigration did not affect auto theft rates. The limitations of the study and policy implications are discussed

Lee, J., Zhang, Y., & Hoover, L.T. (2013). Police response to domestic violence: Multilevel factors of arrest decisions. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 36(1), 157-174. [ LINK ]

At the neighborhood level, concentrated disadvantage and immigration concentration had positive effect on the odds of arrest. At the situational level, the time of day, day of the week, premise type, and gender and racial relations between suspect and complainant, along with offense type and weapons use, had significant impact.

Lee, J., Zhang, Y., & Hoover, L. (2013). Profiling weapon use in domestic violence: Multilevel analysis of situational and neighborhood factors. Victims & Offenders, 8(2), 164-184. [ LINK ]

The dangerousness of domestic violence escalates when suspects use weapons against victims or responding officers. Nevertheless, only a few studies have examined the dynamics of weapon use in domestic violence. While supporting the situational approach, the limited literature and relevant theories suggest the need for weapons classification and multilevel research. Using over 9,400 domestic violence cases across 423 census tracts that were responded to by the Houston Police Department in 2005, hierarchical linear models examine the correlates of weapon use by suspects. Results indicate that situational and neighborhood factors are distinctively associated with each type of weapon. Implications for future research and policy are discussed.

Ren, L., Zhang, Y., & Zhao, J.S. (2015). The deterrent effect of the Castle Doctrine law on burglary in Texas: A tale of outcomes in Houston and Dallas. Crime & Delinquency, 61(8), 1127-1151. [ LINK ]

From 2005 through 2008, 23 states across the nation have enacted laws generally referred to as "castle doctrine" laws or "stand your ground" laws. A castle doctrine law gives a homeowner the legal right to use force (even deadly force) to defend himself or herself and the family against an intruder. No study, however, has been conducted to evaluate its deterrent effects. The State of Texas enacted its castle doctrine law on September 1, 2007, and the subsequent Joe Horn shooting incident in Houston in November, 2007, served to publicize the Texas law to a great extent. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the deterrent effect of the Texas castle doctrine law and the subsequent Horn shooting on burglary in the two largest cities in Texas, Houston and Dallas. Daily data of residential and business burglary, over the period from January 1, 2007, to August 31, 2008, were obtained from the Houston Police Department and the Dallas Police Department. Interrupted time-series designs were employed in the study to analyze the intervention effects. The findings reported suggest a place-conditioned deterrent effect of the law and the Horn shooting; both residential and business burglaries were reduced significantly after the shooting incident in Houston, but not in Dallas.

Wells, W. & Wu, Ling (2011). Proactive policing effects on repeat and near-repeat shootings in Houston. Police Quarterly, 14(3), 289-319. [ LINK ]

The spatial analysis of crime and community problems can inform police operations by revealing where resources can be most effectively deployed. Advances in understanding the spatial concentrations of crime show that some locations are repeatedly victimized and that some nearby locations are at an elevated risk for a subsequent crime during a relatively short period of time. These are known as repeat and near-repeat phenomena. Police may be able to have a strong preventive impact on crime if these risk patterns can be identified and disrupted. This analysis reports on whether a specialized, proactive patrol unit deployed to high-crime areas was effective in disrupting repeat and near-repeat patterns of shootings. Results suggest the proactive unit did not disrupt concentrations of shootings in a meaningful way. To improve effectiveness, police practitioners and researchers should seek to understand the factors driving these patterns and then design specific interventions to address them.

Wells, W., Zhang, Y. & Zhao, J.S. (2012). The effects of gun possession arrests made by a proactive police patrol unit. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 35(2), 253-271. [ LINK ]

Citywide and beat-level analyses show that the proactive unit made meaningful contributions to existing levels of illegal possession arrests. Time series analyses using weekly data show that these additional arrests are associated with significant declines in offences committed with guns. Findings support existing evidence that shows police can affect serious crimes by targeting firearms that are illegally possessed and carried.

Zhang, Y., Hoover, L., & Zhao, J. (2014). Geographic Information Systems effects on police efficacy: An evaluation of empirical assessments. International Journal of Applied Geospatial Research, 5(2), 30-43. [ LINK ]

GIS technology is credited with substantially improving police crime analysis and related resource allocation. Although GIS has been said to be an efficient and effective technology in policing, limited empirical assessment has been conducted. An examination of functions and a review of the literature suggests four major applications of GIS in policing: computerized crime mapping/crime analysis; "hot spots" identification; improving command-level decision making; and geographical investigative analysis (primarily offender profiling). The primary objective of this qualitative review is to identify the extent of empirical evaluations of the effectiveness of a GIS. Although there is some research reference offender profiling, results are mixed. Only two empirical evaluations have been published that examine crime mapping, and both are limited to effects on perceptions. No empirical work links GIS to police deployment effectiveness.

Zhao, J., Lai, Y.L., Ren, L., & Lawton, B. (2015). The impact of race/ethnicity and quality-of-life policing on public attitudes toward racially biased policing and traffic stops. Crime & Delinquency, 61(3), 350-374. [ LINK ]

This article examines the impact of race/ethnicity and quality-of-life (QOL) policing on citizens' perceptions of racial bias and traffic stops. Using data obtained from a random-sample telephone survey of Houston citizens, respondents were asked whether they felt that the police treated citizens "equally" based on the race/ethnicity of the citizen as well as the race/ethnicity of the officer. These variables were then recoded to construct a nominal measure ranging from racially biased policing to absence of racially biased policing, with a middle category of "semiracially" biased policing. Results indicated that race/ethnicity was a significant predictor. In addition, the results strongly suggested that QOL policing was significantly associated with a decrease in respondents' perceptions of racially biased policing. Finally, there was a significant relationship between racially biased policing and expected treatment of traffic stops made by the police.

Zhao, S., Lawton, B., & Longmire, D. (2015). An examination of the micro-level crime-fear of crime link. Crime & Delinquency, 61(1), 19-44. [ LINK ]

Since the late 1960s, crime has been hypothesized to be associated with fear of crime. However, little research has been available to test this assumption at the individual level of analysis. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between crime and fear of crime using data collected from a random telephone survey of local residents in the city of Houston. The authors investigate if there is an impact of an individual's spatial proximity to crime on fear of crime also measured at the individual level. To be more specific, the authors examine the crime–fear of crime link using three types of crime-violent crime, property crime, and disorder crime. Both the residence of respondents and crime events are spatially located, allowing the authors to construct a buffer surrounding the respondent's residence to obtain the number of crime incidents that occur within a 528-foot (1/10th of a mile) radius of the residence. In addition, the authors explore the relationship between spatial distribution of actual crime events and individual fear of crime at 0.5-mile radius and 1.0-mile radius of each respondent who participated in the telephone interview. The findings suggest that a person's proximity to crime incidents has a significant impact on fear of crime among respondents interviewed. Furthermore, the magnitudes of coefficients show that different types of crime (violent crime, property crime, and disorder crime) have similar impacts on fear of crime

Zhao, J. S., & Ren, L. (2015). Exploring the dimensions of public attitudes toward the police. Police Quarterly, 18(1), 3-26. [ LINK ]

Public attitudes toward the police (PATP) have become a key area of policing research. Even a cursory review of the literature shows that few studies pay attention to the development of theoretical constructs concerning outcome variable(s)-PATP. The purpose of this study is to advance our knowledge of the psychometric properties of PATP. More specifically, drawing upon Easton's theory of public support, we examine the discriminant validity of diffuse PATP and specific PATP and explore whether there is a neighborhood-conditioning effect in the response to items tapping into the concept of PATP. We use the two waves of telephone surveys collected in Houston, Texas in 2010 and 2012, which include responses from more than 2,500 residents. Confirmatory factor analysis is utilized to conduct the psychometric analysis, as it is an appropriate approach to testing theory-driven factor structures for the attitude-based constructs. The initial results were validated and then replicated. The results lend support for a two-factor model of PATP, where neighborhood is identified as a key moderator. Three important observations concerning measures of PATP are highlighted.