Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)


Jared L. Perry


Hotspot Policing, Rural Policing, Displacement, Diffusion of Benefits, Environmental Criminology, Rational Choice


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


Drug production, distribution, and trafficking is a growing problem in Southwest Virginia. Routine activity theory and situational crime prevention theory focus on the specific characteristics and have led to many policing initiatives such as hotspot policing. Many policing approaches, including hotspot policing, have positively impacted the production, distribution, and trafficking of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl in rural Virginia. However, there is little known about the impact these approaches have had on the displacement and diffusion of these drugs in the areas where the biggest law enforcement operations have taken place. Displacement and diffusion are common consequences of any drug initiatives. It cannot be assumed that rural hotspots follow the same patterns as urban hotspots. It also cannot be assumed that situational changes will affect crime patterns. Studying a rural area rather than an urban location gives greater insight into the effectiveness of hotspot policing in rural areas. This study aimed to show if major drug operations, considered hotspot policing for the purpose of this study, have an impact on the arrest rates of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl. Data were analyzed through a paired t-test and an ANOVA to determine the impact each operation (Operation Trap Door, Operation Pandemic, and Operation Appalachian Action) had on the county in which the operation occurred and the surrounding counties. Operations Trap Door, Pandemic, and Appalachian Action did not initiate statistically significant displacement or diffusion of benefits.

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