Mere Police Presence Deters Crime
Officers' function as a crime deterrent is just as important as their function to capture criminals. The data backs this up.
Dec 4, 2020
Numerous studies have found a correlation between a larger number of police officers on the force and a reduction in violent crime.
When it comes to violent crime in major cities, a 2018 article in the Review of Economics and Statistics found that every $1 spent on additional police forces generated $1.63 in social benefits. This conclusion, which used data from multiple cities across 50 years, found that the resulting social benefits were mainly a consequence of reducing murders.
Research has also shown that just perception of getting caught by police for certain is a bigger deterrent than any threats of punishment. Given the rates of recidivism, or repeat offenders, prison time does not seem to be a good deterrent in and of itself.
Another study—this one from 2005— found that the mere presence of visible police in a public place was enough to deter crime. That is their biggest benefit to society: simply existing.
If more police means less crime, then it would stand to reason that the absence of police would encourage those with a propensity to commit crimes to act.
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