Assessing benefits, costs, and disparate racial impacts of confrontational proactive policing

Charles F. Manski*, Daniel S. Nagin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Effective policing in a democratic society must balance the sometime conflicting objectives of public safety and community trust. This paper uses a formal model of optimal policing to explore how society might reasonably resolve the tension between these two objectives as well as evaluate disparate racial impacts. We do so by considering the social benefits and costs of confrontational types of proactive policing, such as stop, question, and frisk. Three features of the optimum that are particularly relevant to policy choices are explored: (i) the cost of enforcement against the innocent, (ii) the baseline level of crime rate without confrontational enforcement, and (iii) differences across demographic groups in the optimal rate of enforcement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9308-9313
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number35
StatePublished - Aug 29 2017


  • Criminal justice policy
  • Deterrence
  • Policing
  • Social welfare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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