Browse Exhibits (1 total)

Kelling's Police Foundation Experiments (1970s)

The Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment, conducted from October 1st, 1972, through September 30th, 1973, clarified two foundational assumptions that revolutionized police patrols in the seventies.[1] First, Kelling’s team of leading researchers, consultants, and Police Foundation affiliates determined that the results of the Kansas City Experiment showed that patrolling neighborhoods in “marked police cars” did virtually nothing to prevent criminal activity or enhance citizens’ feelings of safety.[2] Second, Kelling’s report suggested the police practitioners needed to revamp traditional routine patrol strategies in order to more effectively prevent crime and deliver community services.[3] Furthermore, the Kansas City Experiment findings laid the foundation for another critically acclaimed policing study led by Kelling titled the Newark Foot Patrol Experiment.

While conducting the Newark Foot Patrol Experiment, the Police Foundation research team worked in tandem with the Newark City Police Department to produce and publish the final report in 1981.[4]  This report outlined the first major examination of foot patrol tactics since a 1969 study done in United Kingdom.[5] The Newark experiment focused on the effects of New Jersey’s new Safe and Clean Neighborhoods Program (1973)—an initiative Wilson and Kelling described as focused on increasing police foot patrol presence in 28 cities.[6] The researchers constructed three separate experimental designs in order to assess the extent to which various strategies of patrolling (mainly motor vs. foot patrol) affected citizens’ fear of crime and satisfaction with police in handling perceived criminal activities.[7] The Newark Experiment endorsed the effectiveness of foot patrolling in community spaces. As a result, policing experts began evaluating how foot patrols could serve as viable mechanism for increasing public safety and decreasing social disorder on city streets.

By building off the findings of the Kansas Preventive Patrol Experiment, Kelling and his colleagues illustrated in the Newark study how foot patrols and meaningful community engagement can enable police officers to better cope with the systemic problems in crime-ridden environments.[8] Moreover, the study concluded that the Safe and Clean Neighborhood Act attained its goal of increasing citizens’ feelings of safety in the streets by lessening “fear of crime.”[9] Both the Kansas City and Newark studies featured input from major metropolitan politicians and leading practitioners in the policing field. By incorporating practical and theoretical conceptions of policing, these Police Foundation studies brought tangible policy discussions regarding crime to the forefront of national political discourse.


[1] Kelling, George L., Tony Pate, Duane Dieckman, and Charles E. Brown. The Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment. Police Foundation Report. Washington, D.C.: Police Foundation, 1974. 1-56. 

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Pate, Antony, Amy Ferrera, and George L. Kelling. The Newark Foot Patrol Experiment. Police Foundation Report. Washington, D.C.: Police Foundation, 1981. 1-152.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Kelling, George L., and James Q. Wilson. "Broken Windows The Police and Neighborhood Safety." The Atlantic. March 1982. Accessed December 06, 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/03/broken-windows/304465/.

[7] Pate, Antony, Amy Ferrera, and George L. Kelling. The Newark Foot Patrol Experiment. Police Foundation Report. Washington, D.C.: Police Foundation, 1981. 1-152.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Pate, Antony, Amy Ferrera, and George L. Kelling. The Newark Foot Patrol Experiment. Police Foundation Report. Washington, D.C.: Police Foundation, 1981, pg. 127.

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