Can an anticrime strategy that has been effective at reducing certain types of violence also be used to combat open-air drug markets? The “pulling levers” approach involves deterring repeat offenders from crime by targeting them for enhanced prosecution while also encouraging them to change their behavior by offering them access to social services. This strategy has been shown to hold promise with gang members and others at risk for committing violence. The Rockford (Illinois) Police Department (RPD) decided to find out if they could use a pulling levers approach to tackle open-air drug markets and the crime problems caused by these nuisance areas. After the RPD implemented the pulling levers intervention, Corsaro, Brunson, and McGarrell used official crime data from before and after the intervention to determine whether this approach had been effective. They found that although there was no reduction in violent crime, nonviolent crime (e.g., drug offenses, vandalism, and disorderly conduct) declined noticeably after the intervention. This indicated that the RPD’s efforts had worked, because drug and disorder offenses were exactly what the police were trying to reduce.
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