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RECAP in Minneapolis. Repeat Call Address Policing (Sherman and Gartin). RECAP - A “Gold Standard” Experiment in Problem-Solving. “Problem” defined as A single address (building) Producing excessive calls for police service Call reduction as the “bottom line” measure of success

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Recap in minneapolis

RECAP in Minneapolis

Repeat Call Address Policing (Sherman and Gartin)

Recap a gold standard experiment in problem solving
RECAP - A “Gold Standard” Experiment in Problem-Solving

  • “Problem” defined as

    • A single address (building)

    • Producing excessive calls for police service

  • Call reduction as the “bottom line” measure of success

  • High calls = “a fever,” a symptom

  • Officer diagnosis of the cause(s) of it

Basic structure

  • 500 addresses, 250 in each group

  • Each subdivided into two groups by type

    • Commercial – dominated the highest-call group

    • Residential – dominated by domestics

  • Social Service agencies generally typed as Commercial

Target for success
TARGET for “SUCCESS” Problem-Solving

  • 3% of all addresses in Minneapolis produced 50% of all 9-1-1 calls for police service

  • Total calls, divided by number of officers, produced a target of 1,000 fewer calls than the baseline year, per officer: 4,000 total

The bottom line
THE BOTTOM LINE Problem-Solving

  • RECAP was a success during the first six months (the original target length)

  • At the end of 12 months, only 475 fewer calls in the Experimental group compared to the Control group

  • Black Box analysis = “Failure”

The bottom line1
THE BOTTOM LINE Problem-Solving

  • RECAP was nevertheless extended as an operational unit despite statistical results

  • Unit earned its spurs as a developer of new tactical approaches, and of information useful to larger strategic approaches

The recap team
The RECAP Team Problem-Solving

  • Four patrol officers detached from 9-1-1 response

  • One supervisor (Sergeant)

  • Selected from volunteers

  • Some had prior experience with the Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment

The setting
THE SETTING Problem-Solving

  • 1985 – Computer equipment primitive by contemporary standards: 40 mg hard drives had to be subdivided, 32 mg max

  • RECAP ran simultaneously with the Newport News Problem-Solving endeavour

The setting1
THE SETTING Problem-Solving

  • Operationally driven, not theory-driven

  • CPTED only rarely employed as a solution

  • “Broken Windows” irrelevant

  • Few solutions could be called “situational”

  • “Stranger” incursion á lá Neighborhood Watch rarely a factor – biggest threat was the neighbors, or the regular customers

Operational assumption

  • Like the Eck and Spelman definition at Newport News, a tacit assumption that repeat calls resulted from unsolved problems at the address

  • Address-specific selection left open the possibility of multiple problems at the same address

Anti social behavior
Anti-Social Behavior Problem-Solving

  • ASB was not a term in use

  • Calls by dispatched type dominated and directed problem analysis

  • BUT

Anti social behavior1
Anti-Social Behavior Problem-Solving

  • Most of the address-specific behaviors dealt with by the RECAP unit stemmed from two factors:

    • Problems arising directly from the life circumstances of people who “belonged” there

    • Problems arising from an abdication of responsibility by the formal guardians of the specific address

Anti social behavior2
Anti-Social Behavior Problem-Solving

  • “What do you do with people for whom jail is a higher standard of living?”

    • Migratory patterns of moving

    • Multiple and overlapping substance abuse

    • Conscious manipulation of “disability” as a shield against consequences and responsibility


  • Hot Spots of Crime (Sherman &Weisburd) – tight geographic concentration of RECAP-eligible problem addresses, plus parks and intersections (eliminated from RECAP)

  • Third-Party Policing (Buerger & Mazerolle) – control of ASB through police action directed at place managers, others


  • “Experimental design be damned!”

  • Commonalities led to city-wide initiatives:

    • Domestic violence (patrol resistance)

    • Drive-off gas NOPAYs (owner resistance)

    • Shoplifting (City Attorney resistance)

    • Licensure of rental properties (City Council resistance – suburban exodus)

    • Juvenile Sweeps (good luck with that….)

Five not so easy pieces

  • Moby Dick’s Bar (“Hole in the Wall”)

  • Pursuit Hometel (mutual connivance)

  • St. Stephen’s Shelter (spillover impact)

  • 1740 Pleasant Street (drug market)

  • 1501 Portland Avenue (smooth slumlord)

Other major problems

  • Plymouth Avenue McDonald’s (turf wars)

  • Snyder’s Liquors (751 Franklin)

  • E-Block (800 block of Hennepin)

  • Mousey’s Too and The Corral (bars)

  • MCDA High-rises for the elderly and disabled (national HUD and local policy)

Confounding problems

  • Low incidence rate: 1 call per week (most)

  • Multiple-layered problems

    • Fences at 1501 – 11th Av S / gang-bangers

  • Round-robin sales of residential properties

  • Inconsistency of patrol response (13 calls)

  • Magnet phones and mirror calls

  • “The Ex-Police” struggle for legitimacy

Recap in minneapolis

Thank you Problem-Solving