Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Angela Kline, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bernard Martin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dr. Matthew Wheeler, DPPD


This study examines possible correlations between city code enforcement strategies and crime rates. Specifically, it asks: Is the work performed daily by city code enforcement departments, a Broken Windows Theory policing strategy?

To understand these possible connections, this study selected 30 medium-sized California cities, identified common elements of their code enforcement operations believed to be representative of how robust or active their programs were. Data was collected using both open-source, internet-based documents (such as budget documents and strategic plans) and from a survey sent directly to code enforcement staff. The survey consisted of 7 questions about code enforcement operations from 2019. The year 2019 was selected because it was pre-pandemic and before the civil unrest many cities experienced in 2020 that significantly impacted city operations and strategies, in California; factors that could skew responses from later years.

These elements were analyzed using backward regression in IBM SSPS to identify and measure the strength of any correlations between the selected elements of code enforcement operations and the selected cities’ crime rates. The results of the regression test found no statistically significant correlations between the code enforcement operational elements selected and the cities’ crime rates. Considering the extant Broken Windows and place-based crime literature, these findings could infer that the mere existence of a code enforcement program will not impact crime rates. Instead, the way code enforcement is used, and specifically its coordination with law enforcement, is where the crime reduction benefits of code enforcement could be found.