CBA Convenings & Publications

Applying CBA to policing is no easy task. Our Data Lab brings together leading academics and practitioners to confront the challenges in implementing CBA in the real world.

May 2016 gathering

First, in May 2016, the Policing Project gathered over twenty academics, from a wide range of disciplines – including psychology, economics, criminology, political science, law, and sociology – to brainstorm and discuss the best approach to using CBA in policing. Attendees considered the following important questions:

  1. What kinds of costs or benefits are typically overlooked when evaluating policing practices?
  2. How can we fairly and accurately put a dollar figure on difficult-to-quantify aspects of policing? and
  3. What research designs should we use to evaluate the effects of policing on society?

February 2017 CBA Conference

Next, in February 2017, the Policing Project brought together a group of leading experts on CBA and quantitative analysis to New York to explore the issue of applying CBA to policing further.  The discussion was framed by a set of topics that law enforcement had identified as needing CBA. The topics discussed included: use of new technologies, such as license plate readers or facial recognition systems; creation of special teams to resolve encounters with individuals with mental disabilities; various investigative tactics, such as stop and frisk; and whether it makes sense to arrest for low level offenses (such as simple drug possession).

In preparation for the February 2017 conference, the Policing Project wrote a background memorandum, which also included some hypothetical fact patterns and a series of prompts.  The conference participants responded to our prompts with short thought papers, which formed the basis for our conversations, and can be found below. Some of those papers are being published in the Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, whose editorial team was represented at the conference.

Panel I—Defining the Frame for Policing CBA

Panel II—Methods for Testing the Effects of Policing Practices

Panel III—How Do We Quantify What is Hard to Quantify?