Police Officer Assignment and Neighborhood Crime
We develop an empirical model of the mechanism used to assign police officers to Chicago districts and examine the efficiency and equity of alternative allocations. We document that the current bidding process, which grants priority based on seniority, results in the assignment of more experienced officers to less violent and high-income neighborhoods. Our empirical model combines estimates of heterogeneous officer preferences underlying the bidding process with causal estimates of the effects of officer experience on neighborhood crime. Equalizing officer seniority across districts would reduce violent crime rate by 4.6 percent and significantly decrease inequality in crime, discretionary arrests, and officer use of force across neighborhoods. Moreover, this assignment can be achieved in a revenue-neutral way while resulting in small welfare gains for police officers, implying that it is more equitable and efficient.
We thank Nour Abdul-Razzak, Scott Ashworth, Regina Austin, Anjelica Hendricks, Dean Knox, Bob Lalonde, Sera Linardi, Philip McHarris, Jonathan Mummolo, Aurelie Ouss, Canice Prendergast, Quitzé Valenzuela-Stookey, and seminar participants at Berkeley, Columbia, Dartmouth, Duke, Florida State, GWU, Stanford, UCL, UCSD Rady, and Yale. We are indebted to Mohammad Abou Harb, Oriana Ballardo, Kiran Misra, and Yvette Wright for their outstanding contributions to this work. We thank Andrew Fan, Chaclyn Hunt, Maira Khwaja, Rachel Ryley, Sam Stecklow, Trina Reynolds-Tyler, the Invisible Institute, and Craig Futterman for help with the data. We thank UC Irvine Economics, Duke Economics, and Penn Law for generous financial support. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.