Justin McCrary: The Economic Argument for Policing

On Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Church, 114 Montecito, Make Oakland Better Now! will sponsor a public forum, “Can Oakland Afford to Be Safe?,” featuring Chief of Police Howard Jordan, City Administrator Deanna Santana and key staff members to discuss the connection between Oakland’s budget challenges and the need to rebuild the Oakland Police Department. All concerned Oaklanders are urged to attend. Meanwhile, we are looking at issues related to the economics and financing of public safety.

On Thursday night, as part of Council Member Libby Schaaf’s Safe Oakland speaker series, economist and Berkeley Law Professor Justin McCrary spoke about his and Aaron Chelfin’s study, “The Effect of Police on Crime: New Evidence from U.S. Cities, 1960-2010.” Like many academic papers — particularly those in the field of economics — the study will seem fairly ponderous to lay persons. So it was helpful to have him give a relatively simple presentation of his findings, and field questions from Chief of Police Howard Jordan, Assemblyman Rob Bonta, Council Member Noel Gallo, and Council Member Schaaf. His presentation can be summarized in the following bullet points: