Crime policy is not one of my areas of expertise, so I'm unable to comment on the degree to which this New York Times story should be taken seriously. Nonetheless, it certainly passes the sniff test. Numbers: The United States has the highest reported incarceration rate in the world. The incarceration rate in the United States has doubled in the past two decades. There are 2.3 million prisoners in the US, incarcerated at a price of 75bn/year. That's more than the nation spends on policing. 20 years ago, police were 40% of spending in the criminal justice system, while incarceration was 25%. Today, policing is 30% and incarceration is 35% During this time period, New York City's incarceration rate has declined. It is now well below the national average. New York City's crime rate has dropped by 75%. That's far more than the national crime rate (which has dropped as well). New York City spend a lot more on policing than on prisons. The conclusion various social scientists are drawing from this is one of those no-duh things that nonetheless defies most political CW. In terms of preventing crime, active prevention mechanisms (e.g., cops) are much more effective than post-crime punishment. In NYC's case, the savings on reduced incarceration were more than adequate to pay for the additional police. Obviously it's not the only factor (that whole lead thing we discussed in another thread plays a potential role), but it certainly seems like a promising avenue for our political system to explore. Which means we won't! The article isn't only about more cops; it discusses potential tactics that might be making a difference. E.g., so called hot-spot policing; some smart types noticed that crimes tend to occur disproportionately in small geographic clusters, by assigning a disproportionate amount of police resources to those areas you drive crime rates down. It also dwells on some of the politics behind understanding this stuff; police departments are reluctant to participate in data-driven experiments because it might jeopardize funding for other ventures.