The Effects of Drug Enforcement on the Rise and Fall of Homicides in New York City, 1985-1995

Jeffrey Fagan, Columbia University
Garth Davies

2. Background

1. Drugs and Violence in NYC - historically since 1960 (2 previous epidemics)

1. Concurrent and mutually reinforcing "epidemics" 2. Concentrated risk in neighborhoods that were most susceptible, or whose informal social control was most compromised by social structure

2. Drugs and Violence - Crack epidemic 1985-1995 - unprecedented homicide rates, mostly guns, evolution of street-level organizations, strength of drug markets

3. Drug Enforcement Policy

1. Shifts over time from demand-side reduction to supply-side reductions (from tx to buy-and-bust) 2. Emphasis on sentencing and incarceration 3. Concurrent policy initiatives (from Pressure Point to Safe Streets to COMPSTAT)

3. Research Issues - what questions arise when policy is heavily tipped toward street-level enforcement as the primary mechanism to calm violent drug markets

1. Implementation of policy - how, what density or saturation, where, proximity of enforcement to drug problems

2. Neighborhood risk - susceptibility and risk within neighborhoods that moderate effects of drug markets on violence

3. Suppression Effects - relationship of enforcement to drug problems and violence

4. Displacement Effects

1. Within neighborhoods -- substitution of different (income generating types of crime) or movement of selling activities indoors 2. Across neighborhoods - relocation of markets (and accompanying violence) to other neighborhoods

5. Hypotheses (general) - the competing hypotheses for this study involve suppression versus displacement. We raise the possibility that there may be iatrogenic effects of drug enforcement on violence via "churning" effects on drug markets 1. within neighborhoods (increased violence in successive periods of time) 2. across neighborhoods (displacement) 3. Both types of effects are acute, not chronic, so analyses will need to be sensitive to short-term effects and spikes

4. Roadmap of This Report

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Updated 05/20/2006