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Benefit-Cost Analysis of Public Safety: Facing the Methodological Challenges

  • Maria Ponomarenko (a1) and Barry Friedman (a2)

Although more than 100 billion dollars is spent each year on policing, we know very little about what works, and still less about whether the benefits of various policing policies and practices outweigh the costs. In particular, although there has been some important work done to assess the effects of various practices, and even to monetize some of the benefits of reducing crime, there has been virtually no attention paid to the other side of the benefit-cost equation: the social costs that particular policing practices potentially can impose. In February 2017, the Policing Project at NYU School of Law held a conference aimed at jumpstarting the use of benefit-cost analysis to assess policing practices, and to begin to tackle the many methodological challenges to doing so. Here, we provide an overview of the existing literature, identify the serious gaps that remain, and sketch out a research agenda for moving forward.

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Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis
  • ISSN: 2194-5888
  • EISSN: 2152-2812
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