A Theory of Optimal Random Crackdowns

Authors: Jan Eeckhout, Nicola Persico and Petra E Todd

American Economic Review, Vol. 100, No 3, 1104--1135, January, 2010

An incentives based theory of policing is developed which can explain the phenomenon of random "crackdowns," i.e., intermittent periods of high interdiction/surveillance. For a variety of police objective functions, random crackdowns can be part of the optimal monitoring strategy. We demonstrate support for implications of the crackdown theory using traffic data gathered by the Belgian Police Department and use the model to estimate the deterrence effect of additional resources spent on speeding interdiction.