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Burglary reduction and improved police performance through private alarm response

Erwin Blackstone, Simon Hakim and Brian Meehan ()

International Review of Law and Economics, 2020, vol. 63, issue C

Abstract: Burglar alarms are the single most effective deterring and detecting measure for burglary. On net, alarms provide benefits to communities, but 94–99 percent of police responses to alarms are to false activations. Solving the false alarm problem could free up the resources equivalent to 35,000 U.S police officers. Response to false alarms is a private good while response to an actual crime is a public good. The paper analyzes a Public-Private-Partnership policy called Verified Response (VR) where the initial response is usually provided by private security under a competitive setting, and police respond only if a crime is verified. A case study of Salt Lake City, Utah is conducted using synthetic control methods to evaluate this program. The introduction of this policy is associated with an 87 percent annual reduction in police alarm response calls, a 26 percent reduction in burglaries, and faster response to all police calls. The paper relies on Public Choice theory to explain why this solution is not adopted in the majority of cities.

Keywords: Private security; Economics of crime; Public goods; Private goods; Police (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.irle.2020.105930

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