University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
The topic I chose to research about is which police strategy/tactic is most effective in reducing crime and disorder. There are various forms of policing such as community-oriented policing, problem-oriented policing, hot spots policing, broken windows theory, and zero-tolerance policing. COP is a model of policing that stresses a two-way working relationship between the community and the police along with the police becoming more integrated into the local community, and citizens assuming an active role in crime control and prevention.
POP is a concept created by Herman Goldstein in which he believes the police should take the categories of crime, order maintenance, and service and break them down into discrete problems and then develop specific responses to each one. Hot spots policing originated from research that revealed crime is extremely concentrated in small areas. The broken windows theory is about how crime problems develop at place, and how police should focus their role to stop crime problems from arising.
According to Paul M. Walters, there is a strategy for COP to prevent crime and disorder which is referred to as response to incidents (R2I). R2I requires law enforcement officers to react to crimes or emergency incidents. In order to promote citizen confidence in the police, officers should swiftly respond to any such incidents and establish and maintain control over the situation. R2I also requires officers to respond proactively to crime patterns. This is accomplished through such tactics as directed patrol, targeted identifications, etc.
However, if police administrators do not carefully manage the R2I strategy, their departments can quickly be overwhelmed by community demands. In order to manage increased calls for police service, administrators need to monitor demand and then research as many creative ways as possible to respond to these calls. There are many ways to respond to calls for assistance that do not require the immediate dispatching of an officer in a patrol car. Other, less expensive responses may satisfy the request just as effectively.
Another way to better serve jurisdictions using the R2I strategy is to invest in current technology in such areas as communications, information, case management and analysis, and transportation which may include automated mug systems, records management and retrieval systems, automated aging systems, and mobile data terminals. Department managers must then use all their resources, both technological and human, in a balanced way that produces not just activity but also results that they can measure against their mission statements.
Managing the limited resources of departments to respond effectively to both incidents and calls for service, while producing the greatest advantage for their communities, requires managers to make informed, professional decisions. Foot patrol and Neighborhood Watch programs are two other popular strategies for the effectiveness of COP. A number of evaluations in the 1980s reported that while additional foot patrol did not reduce crime, it did increase feelings of safety. If people are less fearful they might not withdraw from the communities, and the process of neighborhood deterioration might not begin.
Neighborhood Watch programs have repeatedly been found to have little impact on crime. Residents who live in areas with more crime, and who live in inner-city minority neighborhoods, have been less willing to participate in Neighborhood Watch programs or any other activities that involve partnership with the police. The effect of whether COP works is hard to say and evidence is very mixed. It’s hard to evaluate since it’s done differently from police department to police department. While a number of questions remain, the future of COP appears bright.
According to Paul M. Walters, the heart of the POP approach is the concept that police must be more responsive to the causes of crime, rather than merely dealing with the results of crime. Maintaining neighborhood safety can be more beneficial to the community than merely treating isolated neighborhood problems. This approach represents a significant shift in how both the public and the police view the role of law enforcement in the community. Problem-oriented policing is a proactive, decentralized approach to providing police services designed to reduce crime and disorder, and by extension, the fear of crime.
Department heads achieve this by assigning officers to specific neighborhoods on a long-term basis. Long-term involvement between the officers and neighborhood residents fosters the development of credible relationships based on mutual trust and cooperation. It also allows a high-level exchange of information between citizens and police officers, as well as mutual input concerning policing priorities and tactics for specific areas of the community.
Problem-oriented policing also istributes police services more effectively across the community and targets high-crime areas for problem-solving approaches that allow law enforcement to define and deal with the causes of crime. This helps to neutralize the undue influence of special interest groups that can be the recipients of preferred services when no system of community-based priorities exists. Systematic reviews and meta analysis are a method for determining whether POP reduces crime and disorder. A study was conducted by Weisburg, Telep, Hinkle, and Eck.
Whether they used a more conservative mean effect size approach or examined the largest effects on crime and disorder reported, they found that POP approaches have a statistically significant effect on the outcomes examined. Importantly, the results are similar whether we look at experimental or nonexperimental studies. The small group of studies in the review allows us to come to a solid conclusion regarding the promise of POP, but it does not allow statistical conclusions regarding the types of approaches that work best for specific types of problems.
They think it a major public policy failure that the government and the police have not invested greater effort and resources in identifying the POP approaches and tactics that work best to combat specific types of crime. Moreover, a much larger number of studies are needed to draw strong generalizations regarding the possible effectiveness of POP across different types of jurisdictions and different types of police agencies.
The portfolio of available studies does not allow us to draw conclusions about such contextual factors and suggests that U. S. policing has adopted POP widely without an evidence base for deciding where and when it should be used. The central conclusion of our review is that POP as an approach has significant promise to ameliorate crime and disorder problems broadly defined. Hot spots policing is easier to implement than COP and POP. Research early on showed it had promise in reducing crime. It’s easy to implement as officers are still doing patrol and making arrests. Computerized crime mapping is used in nearly every police department that does hot spots policing.
Some programs can do statistical analyses to identify hot spots and find trends in crime across time and space. The programs also can have maps updated with the latest data each day. Studies have found that hot spots policing is at least moderately effective in reducing crime. It’s so hard to know what exactly works because many studies also involve elements of POP and other tactics. The broken windows theory is widely viewed as effective in policing circles after it was used in New York City in the 1990s and the city had a large crime drop.
There are several suggestions for how police could best prevent crime with the broken windows theory. Police should return to the order maintenance role. Police should not ignore disorder. Police should negotiate consensus with residents and users of public spaces about what is or is not acceptable in that area. The key is to deal with disorder quickly and not let it untended, and clean it up in areas that have declined. This is hypothesized to prevent fear of crime and maintain social controls in areas such as residents aren’t afraid to intervene and/or move away from the area.
Some studies have found increased complaints against the police with the broken windows theory. In conclusion, the research I obtained about the various police strategies and tactics leads to an important statement. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer. There is fairly mixed and weak research evidence about the impacts of these tactics on crime. COP seems effective in fighting fear of crime and improving police-community relations but not in fighting crime. A report by the National Academy reinforces that the most effective strategies and tactics are those that target small locations, take a focused approach, and are highly proactive.