“Policing and the Educational Performance of Minority Youth”
Abstract: How does the expansion of police presence in poor urban communities affect educational outcomes? Exploiting a quasi-experimental design from New York City, we present causal evidence of the impact of aggressive, zero-tolerance policing on the educational performance of minority youth. Under Operation Impact, the New York Police Department (NYPD) saturated high crime areas with additional police officers with the mission to engage in aggressive order maintenance policing. We used administrative data from about 680,000 adolescents aged 10 to 14 and exploited quasi-random variation in the relative timing of police surges and the date of standardized exams among children in the same neighborhood. Exposure to police surges significantly reduced test scores for African-American boys. The size of the effect increases with age but there is no discernible effect for African-American girls and Hispanics. Aggressive policing can thus lower the educational performance of African-American youth and perpetuate the racial achievement gap.