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Repeat Complaint Address Policing: Two Field Experiments in Minneapolis, 1985-1987

Resource Type
Dataset : administrative records data
  • Sherman, Lawrence W.
  • Gartin, Patrick R.
  • Buerger, Michael E.
Other Title
  • Archival Version (Subtitle)
Publication Date
Funding Reference
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice
Free Keywords
causes of crime; citizen crime reporting; crime; crime patterns; crime rates; police reports
  • Abstract

    A leading sociological theory of crime is the "routine activities" approach (Cohen and Felson, 1979). The premise of this theory is that the rate of occurrence of crime is affected by the convergence in time and space of three elements: motivated offenders, suitable targets, and the absence of guardianship against crime. The purpose of this study was to provide empirical evidence for the routine activities theory by investigating criminal data on places. This study deviates from traditional criminology research by analyzing places instead of collectivities as units of spatial analysis. There are two phases to this study. The purpose of the first phase was to test whether crime occurs randomly in space or is concentrated in "hot spots". Telephone calls for police service made in 1985 and 1986 to the Minneapolis Police Department were analyzed for patterns and concentration of repeat calls and were statistically tested for randomness. For the second phase of the study, two field experiments were designed to test the effectiveness of a proactive police strategy called Repeat Complaint Address Policing (RECAP). Samples of residential and commercial addresses that generated the most concentrated and most frequent repeat calls were divided into groups of experimental and control addresses, resulting in matched pairs. The experimental addresses were then subjected to a more focused proactive policing. The purposes of the RECAP experimentation were to test the effectiveness of proactive police strategy, as measured through the reduction in the incidence of calls to the police and, in so doing, to provide empirical evidence on the routine activities theory. Variables in this collection include the number of calls for police service in both 1986 and 1987 to the control addresses for each experimental pair, the number of calls for police service in both 1986 and 1987 to the experimental addresses for each experimental pair, numerical differences between calls in 1987 and 1986 for both the control addresses and experimental addresses in each experimental pair, percentage difference between calls in 1987 and 1986 for both the control addresses and the experimental addresses in each experimental pair, and a variable that indicates whether the experimental pair was used in the experimental analysis. The unit of observation for the first phase of the study is the recorded telephone call to the Minneapolis Police Department for police service and assistance. The unit of analysis for the second phase is the matched pair of control and experimental addresses for both the residential and commercial address samples of the RECAP experiments.
  • Table of Contents


    • DS0: Study-Level Files
    • DS1: Commercial Raw Data
    • DS2: Residential Raw Data
Temporal Coverage
  • 1985 / 1987
    Time period: 1985--1987
Geographic Coverage
  • Minneapolis
  • Minnesota
  • United States
Sampled Universe
First phase: All recorded telephone calls to the Minneapolis Police Department between December 15, 1985, and December 15, 1986, that generated a police patrol dispatch. Second phase: All addresses in Minneapolis between 1986 and 1987.
In the first phase, 323,979 telephone call records were selected by the investigators from all calls made to the Minneapolis Police Department's computer-aided dispatching system during the period from December 15, 1985, to December 15, 1986, after deleting from the complete pool all calls that did not generate police patrol dispatches, i.e., fire, ambulance, and administrative police records calls. In the second phase, investigators selected 2,000 addresses with the most calls from the total pool of addresses that generated calls to police. Each address was then labeled as residential or commercial, and the lists for these categories were rank-ordered by number of calls. Then the top 250 addresses in each category were identified as RECAP project targets with 125 of these randomly selected as RECAP experimental addresses and the remaining 125 as control addresses.
2006-01-18 File CB9788.ALL was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.1997-08-15 SAS and SPSS data definition statements are now available for this collection. Funding insitution(s): United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (OJP-89-C-008 and 86-IJ-CX-0037).
This version of the study is no longer available on the web. If you need to acquire this version of the data, you have to contact ICPSR User Support (
Alternative Identifiers
  • 9788 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Is previous version of
    DOI: 10.3886/ICPSR09788.v1
  • Buerger, Michael E., Mazarolle, Lorraine Green. Third-party policing: A theoretical analysis of an emerging trend. Justice Quarterly.15, (2), 301-327.1998.
    • ID: 10.1080/07418829800093761 (DOI)
  • Cohn, Ellen G.. The effect of weather and temporal variations on calls for police service. American Journal of Police.XV, (1), 23-43.1996.
  • Farrell, Graham. Preventing repeat victimization. Building a Safer Society: Strategic Approaches to Crime Prevention. Crime and Justice: A Review of Research.Chicago, IL: University of Cicago Press. 1995.
  • Sherman, Lawrence W.. Hot spots of crime and criminal careers of places. Crime and Place: Crime Prevention Studies.Monsey, NY: Willow Tree Press. 1995.
  • Buerger, Michael E.. The problems of problem-solving: Resistance, interdependencies, and conflicting interests. American Journal of Police.13, (3), 1-36.1994.
  • Buerger, Michael E.. Defensive strategies of the street-level drug trade. Journal of Crime and Justice.XV, (2), 31-51.1992.
  • Buerger, Michael E.. Convincing the Recalcitrant: Reexamining the Minneapolis RECAP (Repeat Call Address Policing) Experiment. Dissertation, Rutgers State University of New Jersey. 1991.
  • Sherman, Lawrence W., Gartin, Patrick R., Buerger, Michael E.. Hot Spots of Predatory Crime: Routine Activities and the Criminology of Place. Criminology.27, (1), 27-55.1989.
    • ID: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.1989.tb00862.x (DOI)
  • Sherman, Lawrence W.. Repeat Calls to Police in Minneapolis. Crime Control Report #4.NCJ 104431, Washington, DC: Crime Control Institute. 1987.

Update Metadata: 2015-08-05 | Issue Number: 6 | Registration Date: 2015-06-15

Sherman, Lawrence W.; Gartin, Patrick R.; Buerger, Michael E. (1993): Repeat Complaint Address Policing: Two Field Experiments in Minneapolis, 1985-1987. Archival Version. Version: v0. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.