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Does policing the police increase crime? We avoid simultaneity effects of increased public oversight during a major scandal by identifying events in Chicago that only impacted officers’ self-imposed monitoring. We estimate crime’s response to self- and public-monitoring using regression discontinuity and generalized synthetic control methods. Self-monitoring, triggered by police union memos, significantly reduced serious complaints without impacting crime or effort. However, after a scandal, both civilian complaints and crime rates rise, suggesting that higher crime rates following heightened oversight results from de-policing and civilian behavior simultaneously changing. Our research suggests that proactive internal accountability improves police-community relations without increasing crime.


Law enforcement misconduct, corruption, deterrent effect of police on crime, impact of police oversight, police accountability, objective function of police, misconduct allegations, constitutional violations, de-policing, officer-involved-shooting, crime data, scandal-based study, simultaneity bias