Do Police Reduce Crime? Estimates Using the Allocation of Police Forces After a Terrorist Attack

Rafael Di Tella and
Rafael Di Tella Harvard Business School
Ernesto Schargrodsky
Ernesto Schargrodsky Rector - Universidad Torcuato di Tella

October 1, 2004

Part of the CSED Seminar Series


An important challenge in the crime literature is to isolate casual effects of police on crime. Following a terrorist attack on the main Jewish center in Buenos Aires in July 1994, all Jewish institutions were given 24-hour police protection. Using data on the location of car thefts before and after the attack, Di Tella and Schargrodsky find a large deterrent effect of observable police presence on crime. The effect is local, with no appreciable impact outside the narrow area in which th epolice are deployed.