The Effects of Law Enforcement Policing on Urban Drug Markets: Comparative Analysis Using ADAM Data

Zhiwei Zhang, National Opinion Research Center
Dean R. Gerstein, NORC at the University of Chicago
Henry H. Brownstein, National Institute of Justice
Bruce Taylor, National Institute of Justice

Numerous authors have argued for local police targeting of street-level versus upper or mid-level drug retailers (Moore 1977; Chaiken, 1988; Hayeslip, 1989; Moore and Kleiman, 1989; Sherman, 1990; Murji, 1998; Nagin, 1998; Johnson, Dunlap & Tourigny, 2000). Though past case studies and quasi-experimental designs have yielded arguable conclusions about the effects of this policy on drug markets, comparative large-scale assessments have been lacking. Using concatenated Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) data on adult male arrestees in 30 major urban areas, this study examines the role of police presence in obstructing illicit drug market transaction. This analysis will address the following research questions: (1) Are certain drug type purchasers (e,g., crack, heroin, marijuana) or drug dependent versus nondependent buyers less likely to complete drug acquisition due to police presence? (2) Are there inter-urban or intra-urban variations in these results? (3) Are violent offenses more or less likely to occur where market-suppressing law enforcement activities are observed most commonly? (4) Are there signs of displacement to out-of-neighborhood purchasing? (5) Are drug prices higher in high police presence areas? We will discuss analytic results that may inform policy and police practices regarding transactions among offender populations.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006