Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Evaluating Policing Approaches and Institutionalizing Smart Policing 

Research Partner: Temple University (Dr. Jerry Ratcliffe)


Statement of the Problem

Philadelphia has received two SPI grants from the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The first initiative (2010-2012) was to conduct a test the effectiveness of three policing strategies; foot patrol, problem-solving, and an offender-focused strategy.

The second generation (2012-current) of SPI in Philadelphia incorporates the lessons learned from the first initiative, which moves away from randomized experiments to an organizational change model with a comprehensive effort to address violent crime in Philadelphia. The early lessons relate to implementation challenges such as: significant variation in the enthusiasm with which strategies were implemented and adopted; varying levels of command understanding about each strategy and what it was trying to achieve; a lack of crime analysis to help guide district commander staff in the Police Service Areas (PSAs); a lack of integration with the crime briefings at headquarters; and the absence of a mechanism to maintain each strategy when other short-term tactical priorities emerged.

Strategies and Tactics

The second phase of the Philadelphia Smart Policing project aims to create organizational change in the Philadelphia Police Department.  This phase will build upon the lessons learned from the first phase in order to implement individual crime strategies with a comprehensive effort to address violent crime.  The SPI team is training Analysis Coordinators to increase analytical capacity in the department as well as perform crime audits.
The second phase began March 2012, and it has used the framework of the UK National Intelligence Model (NIM), which was released in 1999 and adopted across England and Wales by the Association of Chief Police Officers in 2000. NIM is an “information-based deployment system and a cornerstone for the management of law enforcement operations…NIM identifies patterns of crime and enables a more fundamental approach to problem solving in which resources can be tasked efficiently against an accurate understanding of crime and incident problems. NIM promotes a cooperative approach to policing and many of the solutions to problems will require the participation of other agencies and bodies. The department is using this framework to integrate its neighborhood-based Police Service Area model with the three tactics (foot patrols, problem solving, and offender focus) tested under the previous SPI. Five PPD Police Districts (14th, 18th, 19th, 22nd, and 25th) have been chosen to implement this initiative based on high violent crime rates. In addition, the SPI team is training Analysis Coordinators to increase analytical capacity in the department as well as perform crime audits.

Research Methodology

The research partners are focused on the following five questions:

  1. Does the process drive the expected organizational change?
  2. How can the process be improved to better reduce crime?
  3. How can the process be improved to institutionalize the process?
  4. What quantitative crime and disorder outcomes are reflective of model adoption?
  5. What quantitative organizational change outcomes are reflective of model adoption?

News, Video, and Media 

December 2014 – Criminology featured Elizabeth R. Groff, Jerry H. Ratcliffe, Cory P. Haberman, Evan T. Sorg, Nola M. Joyce, and Ralph B. Taylor’s article “Does What Police Do At Hot Spots Matter? The Philadelphia Policing Tactics Experiment”. The authors looked at policing tactics that are proactive, focused on small places or groups of people in small places, and tailor specific solutions to problems using careful analysis of local conditions seemingly effective at reducing violent crime. Which tactics are most effective when applied at hot spots remains unknown. The article documents the design and implementation of a randomized controlled field experiment to test three policing tactics applied to small, high-crime places: 1) foot patrol, 2) problem-oriented policing, and 3) offender-focused policing. The article is available online here.

June 2014 – The Philadelphia Tribune featured an article about the Phildaelphia Police Department's Smart Policing efforts.  The article cites the crime reductions Philadelphia has seen compared with last year - "shootings are down 11.5 percent, robberies are down 7.3 percent and rape is down 15.7 percent."  The article also featured an interview with Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who noted about Smart Policing: "When I think of Smart Policing it’s about giving us a picture of what’s going on to determine our evidence-based responses."  He also described the importance of early intervention and education programs in keeping juveniles out of the criminal justice system.  The article is available online here.

June 2014 – The Department is planning to test a new gunshot detection system with an evidence-based approach. With the assistance of Temple University, proposed treatment and control locations for the gunshot sensors will be used to evaluate the efficacy of the technology prior to increasing the level of investment.

April 2014 – The Automated COMPSTAT application standardizes the accounting of crime for the biweekly Crime Briefings. This increases the accuracy of the crime counts and aligns it with the Uniform Crime Reporting numbers to the FBI. This ensures that the Districts and the Detective Divisions share a common perspective of what crime is occurring in their home Districts.

March 2014 – The 26 Analysis Coordinators begin meeting on a monthly basis, sharing analytical products with one another, and accessing shared geospatial resources across the Wide Area Network. This increases the efficiency of support that is provided to them, as well as begins to standardize how they access data, and produce their products.

February 2014  - At the 2014 Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences meeting, several Smart Policing Initiative (SPI) sites spoke about their projects, including the Philadelphia Police Department. Philadelphia Com-missioner Charles Ramsey and Deputy Commissioner Nola Joyce discussed Philadelphia’s experiences as a SPI site.

February 2014 - "'Smart policing’ movement training Philly cops to be data scientists: Crime is down all across the board in Philadelphia: in 2013, so-called Part 1 crimes, which includes violent crime and property crimes, were down 5.8 percent from 2012, according to crime data. And the city's top police officials say that's in part because of the Police Department's new crime analysts"

January 2014 – With the completion of the 3rd cohort of Analysis Coordinator training for sworn officers with Temple University, all 21 Police Districts in the Department are covered with 26 Analysts providing crime analysis products independently to their Captains.

October 2013 - The Philadelphia Police Department and City of Philadelphia hosted the 2013 International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference.  As part of the Host Department Track, Dr. Jerry Ratcliffe and Dr. Elizabeth Groff of Temple University described the Philadelphia SPI, including its roots in the Philadelphia Foot Patrol Experiment.  Drs. Ratcliffe and Groff discussed the results from the Philadelphia SPI, as well as next steps and sustainability of evidence-based practices in the Philadelphia PD.

July 2013 - A July 24, 2013 article posted by Tom Ferrick on, "Research fuels drop in crime in Philly", discusses the Philadelphia Foot Patrol Experiment and its impacts on crime rates and policing strategies in the police department.  The article describes the increasing importance of evidence-based practices and research partnerships in policing and credits the Philadelphia Police Department for its dedication to these practices.  Read the full article here.

April 2013An April 5, 2013, article posted by David Gambacorta on, “Philadelphia’s homicide tally shows dramatic drop,” discusses the decrease in Philadelphia's homicides, shootings, and violent crimes as compared to the same period last year. Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey credits the Smart Policing strategies that have been developed during the last few years with the help of Temple University criminologist Jerry Ratcliffe and others. Read the full article.

September 2012 - The Philadelphia SPI team published a summary of their SPI results. 

June 2012Philly police will test attaching video cameras to cops

Philadelphia Police Department is a leader in social media integration in law enforcement.

The Philadelphia Daily News showcased a summary of the Philadelphia SPI in late August. The article summarizes the primary objectives and implementation strategies of the project and highlights some successful outcomes of actions taken to-date. 

Philly PD is earning national recognition for embracing Twitter.

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Nola Joyce - Philadelphia Police Department 

Ms. Joyce provides a program overview.


Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel - Philadelphia Police Department

Commissioner Bethel provides a SPI program update at the September 2011 SPI National Meeting in Alexandria, VA.



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Philadelpha Project Plan Phase 2.pdf240.8 KB
Foot patrol training document.pdf198.12 KB
Officer survey summary.pdf2.05 MB
Community survey summary.pdf2.03 MB
PPD.Making.Phila_.Safer_.5YrPlan.8.31.11.FINAL_.pdf2.17 MB