Police Incentives, Policy Spillovers, and the Enforcement of Drug Crimes

Gregory J. Deangelo, R. Kaj Gittings, Amanda Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We consider the impact of a low priority initiative adopted in specific jurisdictions within Los Angeles (LA) County on police behavior. Low priority initiatives instruct police to make the enforcement of low level marijuana possession offenses their "lowest priority." Using detailed data from the LA County Sheriff's Department, a difference-in-differences strategy suggests that the mandate resulted in fewer arrests for misdemeanor marijuana possession in adopting areas relative to non-adopting. However, the lower relative reduction in marijuana arrests appears to be driven by an increase in misdemeanor marijuana arrests in nearby areas not affected by the mandate rather than a reduction in adopting areas. We interpret this result as suggestive evidence of policy spillovers from the low priority initiative.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20160033
JournalReview of Law and Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 26 2018


  • drug crimes
  • enforcement behavior
  • low priority laws
  • police incentives


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