MODULE ON COMMUNITY POLICING
Benefits of Community Policing
As a Department we are asking individuals to participate in a change to a Community Policing Philosophy. Change is uncomfortable and resistance to that change is a natural reaction. Communicating the benefits of the proposed change to Community Policing is an important step in reducing this resistance and in gaining commitment from the individual organization, the community and the Department.
Benefits to the Officer:
1. Community Policing provides the officer with self-satisfaction from solving problems. Instead of continually running from call to call and putting a temporary quick fix on the problem, the officer can get job satisfaction from analyzing the problem and soling it.
2. Community Policing provides an opportunity to be creative and innovative. By empowering the officer, the department allows that officer to seek solutions. This encourages the officer to use innovative and creative solutions instead of restricting him or her to using just traditional policing strategies.
3. It gives the officer a chance to make a "real difference.”Most police officers chose this profession, at least in part, to help people. By employing problem-solving techniques the officer can experience the self-satisfaction which comes from helping others.
4. It gives the officer the opportunity to become familiar with more people.
People get to know the officer as a person and not just as a nameless and faceless police officer whom they occasionally see drive or walk by. This will result in better communications, better relations with the public and in the delivery of quality service.
5. It gives the officer the opportunity to be valued for his worth and not just for his rank. In a traditional police organization, an individual's worth is often judged by his rank. Not all individuals have the opportunity for advancement and some individuals may not want to become supervisors. Under community policing, the organization recognizes that the most important individuals in the organization are the ones who provide the service to the customer. Everyone else in the organization exists to support that person.
6. It results in a positive change in how the community views both the individual officer and the department. Once we have established a good reputation with our community, we must always work to keep their respect. By working in partnership with the community we can improve upon both our reputation and how the community views us as an organization and as individuals.
7. It provides for a better place to work. By working to improve the quality of life in the community, we also improve our work environment. Community policing stresses the necessity for establishing a working environment which supports the efforts of the individual employee, provides him/her with the equipment and training necessary to do her job, and rewards her for her efforts.
Benefits to the Community:
1. It provides the community with a voice in how it will be policed Traditionally, police have selected the manner and style of policing to be used in any community. Frequently this style of policing may differ from neighborhood to neighborhood. The community has no input in selecting the style of policing which will be used. Under community policing, the community works in partnership with the Police to decide the style of policing which will be used within the community.
2. It provides the community with a voice in setting law enforcement priorities. To become a more efficient police department, we must evaluate how we prioritize our calls for service. The community should participate in this evaluation. What we as a police organization think should be a low priority call may be a higher priority to the members of the community. We must work together to formulate our enforcement priorities and be adaptable enough to change those priorities as the needs of the community change.
3. It provides a permanent resolution to recurring problems. Officers should "treat the illness" and not the symptoms. As a result the community will benefit by having recurring problems either permanently eliminated.
4. It provides a stronger, safer and more friendly community in which to live. If we actively involve the community in resolving neighborhood problems, the community will develop a sense of unity and partnership with the Police. This will result in a friendlier and safer place in which to live. Our goal as police officers is to improve the quality of life in the community that we serve. "Quality of life" is a trendy touchy-feely phrase that may be overused, but it is really what we are about as a police organization.
5. It provides a better understanding of police capabilities and limitations. Many individuals base their expectations of police service upon what they see on Television or in the movies. They may feel that we can solve the crime immediately and that if we do not it is because we are spending all our time in the doing social events. By opening ourselves to the public, we let them see the job that we do with the limited amount of resources that we have.
6. It provides for a closer working relationship with other governmental agencies. Community Policing requires a partnership between the community, the police and government. Many of the quality of life issues require the assistance of other governmental service providers. Community policing will require us to work hand-in-hand with these agencies to provide a higher level of governmental service to the community. Community policing is the first step in the journey to community government!
To The Department:
1. It provides for a more efficient and elective use of department resources. In this time of reduced funding, departments are forced to do more with less. By becoming more efficient, they can provide a higher quality of service to the community. Under the philosophy of community policing they may reduce the types of calls for service to which we respond; however, we will provide higher quality service on those to which we do respond.
2. It enables the department to be more responsive to the needs of the community. By being more approachable we can open lines of communication, get a feel for what the community needs, and then adjust our service accordingly.
3. It enables the department to increase the quality and quantity of criminal intelligence. Most cases are solved by witnesses who decide to come forward and testify. By developing a closer relationship between the police and the community, a foundation of trust is built. As a result, more people are likely to give information to us about crime related activity in their neighborhoods.
4. It improves communications, both within the community and within the police department. In any organization there are breakdowns in communication. In police agencies the communication problems occur between patrol constables and the investigators, between constables working different districts, and between management and line. If we make the beat constable the center of the community policing philosophy, we can improve our ability to communicate by channeling our information through the individual beat constable.
5. It increases citizen support for department programs and budgets. By opening our Department and its operations to the public, we allow the community to see both the quality and amount of work that we do with our limited resources. By fostering our relationship with the citizens, we gain their support for the funding of department operations and initiatives.
THE BENEFITS OF COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
1. Increased Effectiveness
In this time of reduced funding, departments are forced to do more with less. By becoming more efficient, they can provide a higher quality of service to the community. Problem solving forces them to try to identify and resolve the underlying reason(s) for an existing problem, instead of just handling the results of the problem. If they are able to do this they are more effective because they have eliminated a problem which has been affecting the quality of life within their community.
2. Officer Self-Actualization
Under a community policing philosophy, beat officers are the ultimate service providers. The rest of the agency exists to support these officers. Problem solving policing allows individual officers to have greater control over how they do their job. Success is defined as meeting the needs of the community; it is not tied to assignment to specialized units or promotion. Not everyone can be a member of a specialized unit; not everyone can be a supervisor. Community based problem-solving allows beat officers to fulfill their potential and "Be all they can be."
3. Improved Communications
In any organization there are breakdowns in communication. In police agencies the communication problems occur between patrol officers and detectives, between officers working different districts, and between management and line officers. If agencies make the beat officer the center of the community policing philosophy, they can improve their ability to communicate by channeling information through the individual beat officer.
4. An Increase in Community Support for Department Programs
Community Oriented Policing requires departments to involve the community in identifying, prioritizing and resolving public safety related quality of life issues. When they open their Department and its operations to the public, they allow the community to see both the quality and amount of work that they do with their limited resources. By fostering their relationship with the citizens, they gain support for the funding of Department operations and initiatives.
5. Increased Opportunities for Creativity
By empowering the officer, the department allows that officer to seek solutions that will permanently resolve a quality of life issue. This encourages the officer to use innovative and creative solutions instead of restricting him/her to using just traditional policing strategies.
6. It Provides Officers a Better Place in Which to Work
By working to improve the quality of life in the community, departments also improve their work environment. Community policing also stresses the necessity for establishing a working environment which supports the efforts of the individual employee, providing the equipment and training necessary to do the job, and rewards for work accomplishments.
7. It Provides a Stronger, Safer and More Friendly Community in Which to Live
If departments actively involve the community in resolving neighborhood problems, that community will develop a sense of unity and partnership with the Police. This will result in a friendlier and safer place in which to live. Police officer’s goal is to improve the quality of life in the community that they serve. "Quality of life" is a trendy touchy-feely phrase that may be overused, but it is really what they are about as a police organization.
8. It Provides for a Closer Working Relationship with Other Agencies
Community Policing requires a partnership between the community, the police and government. Many of the quality of life issues which the department addresses will require the assistance of other governmental service providers. Community policing will require them to work hand-in-hand with these agencies to provide a higher level of governmental service to the community. Community policing is the first step in the journey to community government.
Community Policing- Where Do We Go From Here ~
Now that we have reviewed the concepts and principles of community policing, it's natural to ask what's next. This document has focused on that which has been learned by the many agencies currently practicing community policing. The purpose of this booklet is to provide you with a source document which can be used to build a foundation to understand the concepts of community policing. From this understanding, a decision can then be made about its worth, the form it should take and how it should be implemented. Clearly, implementation without department wide input, would be doomed to failure.
What we have seen in our review is an increasing acceptance of community policing concepts throughout the country. In studying the efforts of the agencies referenced (as well as numerous others), a persistent theme evolved- community policing is based upon an open and ongoing Partnership between the police and the community. coupled with two major principles. a closeness to the customer and an abiding respect for the value of employees. What is also evident is that no where has this partnership weakened the ability of the police to enforce the law, close cases or make arrests. In fact the contrary is true. Enforcement efforts are enhanced because they now represent the collective will of the community. This is because these departments developed their mission statement, goals and objectives with open and active participation of their respective communities. The results are therefore mutually acceptable and beneficial to both partners.
Some critics complain that community policing has not reduced crime. The fact is that it's probably too early to tell if this is the case. Initial statistics from the Houston Police Department (which was one of the early practitioners of the concept) do not indicate noticeable reductions in reported crimes or arrests; in some cases they reflect slight increases. However, caution should be used when attempting to evaluate the effectiveness of community policing purely on crime statistics (especially Houston, where the concept is only in operation within one precinct and many external factors have affected overall police efficiency), as other factors may prove to be more important.
Other criteria may provide a more accurate measurement of the success of a community policing program; specifically, the public's perception of crime and the quality of life. If the efforts of a community policing program result in a reduced fear level coupled with improvements to the quality of life, then one can make a case for program success. The practitioners of the concept are currently reviewing methods to assess thugs intangibles in order to better evaluate effectiveness.
Community policing has resulted in a reduced reliance on response times as an indicator of police effectiveness. Agencies have been able to divert resources previously allocated to answering calls for service to problem-solving activities in support of the community. This, in turn, has lessened the reliance on raw numbers (tickets, reports, and arrests) as a means of evaluating police productivity and efficiency. Again, the primary benefit is more time for the police to interact with the community, the agency's customer.
An essential ingredient of community policing is a change in the service philosophy of the police agency, complimented by a revised, and in most cases, reduced expectation level of the public. In the past, the police have responded to each and every call for service or concern of the public with a "can do" or "we will do what we can" attitude. The public, in turn, has come to rely on the police as a "do-all" agency, always available to respond to any call for service even though the call may not be the primary responsibility of the police. Governments have encouraged this attitude by failing to require other service providers to be available to meet service demands on a 24 hour basis.
This has made the police officer a virtual prisoner of the radio car and 911. Recent evaluations of this situation indicate that the police have become call takers and report writers who only periodically emerge from their vehicles to address immediate problems. They then return to the vehicle to await the next dispatched radio call. This situation has, to some degree, fostered a "we-them" syndrome that has further separated the police from the people they serve. Community policing attempts to break this trend and return the police to a closer alliance with their customer, the public.
It is the importance of the customer that permeates community policing wherever it is practiced. The concept of the importance of the customer was most clearly expressed to the general public by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman in a 1982 best seller entitled In Search of Excellence (Harper and Row, NY). The authors have summarized the results of several years studying large, successful corporations in an effort to determine what made them 60 successful. The book identified eight basic concepts that were keystones of each and every one of these corporations. These concepts ranged from a need to be close to the customer to productivity through Deople: both are essential elements of community policing.
Since the police are a governmental agency we tend not to think in terms of"profit margins" or a "returns on stockholder's equity", even though we clearly have a significant 'customer" base in the community. In fact, since we do not produce tangible goods, service is really all that we have to offer. Despite the fact that we essentially provide this serviee~o a "captive audience", we still need to recognize the need for "quality, service and reliability" in all of our contacts with the community. Unfortunately, lack of contact,along with the rotation of officers by time and beat, has perpetuated an absence of close, face-to-face customer relations. Community policing attempts to reverse this trend by re-emphasizing the need for close contact with the service public.
The second half of the community policing equation is a recognition of the importance of the employee. Police agencies haven't paid much attention to this area for quite a while. Since we have no means to evaluate employee effectiveness through customer satisfaction, we have relied upon items like reports written, tickets issued and arrests made to evaluate employees. We have never looked at problem-solving or citizen satisfaction to measure employee effectiveness. In each of the successful companies reviewed by Peters and Waterman (ibid), there was almost a reverence for the employee and his contribution. These companies nurtured employee experimentation and risk taking; rewarding both the failures (as at least tries) and the successes. Each company developed leaders by encouraging competition while at the same time not neglecting the importance of teamwork. Ultimately this partnership resulted in the success of both the product and the corporation. In essence, each was actively engaged in concepts that supported corporate goals, yet also paralleled basic principles of community policing. Much can be learned by police agencies from these experiences in corporate America.
Why spend so much time on these concepts? Because they are central to the success of any community policing program. Agencies experimenting with community policing are finding that respect for the employee is just as important as the interaction with the community. It is this employee who represents the organization at the level where problem-solving, risk taking and decisive action takes place. Overall, the record of police agencies in developing and managing employees has not been stellar. If it were, dissatisfaction levels would not be as high as they are in many agencies and less time would be spent on responding to grievances.
Under community policing, the employee is a critical member of the company team. The department not only provides the tools to accomplish the mission, but also respects and seeks the employee's input to the solution of the problem. It recognizes him or her as a valuable asset. To win that employee's support, the agency must treat him fairly, handle complaints and grievances rapidly and impartially, and most of all, consider him to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem. Once this bond of trust is achieved, the agency can turn its efforts toward new service programs for the customer.
The Next Step...
Thus, community policing will mean changes for the department in its organization, philosophy and operational methods. Such a change must be carefully planned and implemented; it must also have the active participation and support of its members. We are now in the process of developing the plan to implement Community Policing in Montgomery County. To do this, several committees have been created to help develop this plan. These committees are:
Media, Education & Information Referral
Recruiting & Training
Governmental Coordination, Legal and Legislative
These committees will work under the umbrella of the community policing Steering Committee, which will be responsible for program coordination and the planning agenda. Based upon the committee reports, the Steering Committee will develop and present to the Chief our implementation plan.
Public meetings have been held to both educate the public on the concept, as well to provide them the opportunity to identify their goals and priorities for the department. This input, along with that of department members, has resulted in a new mission statement for the department, which stresses customer orientation and the importance of the employee.
Our implementation plan will include funding needs and will eventually be submitted to both the County Executive and the Council, especially as it pertains to those areas which will require additional funds and are multiyear in impact. Any implementation of community policing will, in all probability, be multiyear and, while there may be some initial Community Policing prototypes in limited areas of the county, it will eventually be adopted department-wide. Community policing is not one project or set of words, but rather, a way of doing business on a daily basis and one which demands the support of all levels of the department. It must be the central philosophy of all departmental operations in order to succeed.
Once this strategic plan is approved, yearly implementation strategies will be developed and published as unit goals and objectives. These will become the subject of evaluation at the end of their initial period and changes made as required. Throughout this long and short range planning process, employee and citizen input is critical to program efficiency and accomplishment of goals. It means significant changes in the way that we view our job, our responsibilities and our interactions with the public. However, the rewards are many and are readily visible
In summation, community policing presents a massive challenge to all of us, as well as the community in general. But the results will more than compensate for the efforts.
EXAMPLES OF PROBLEM SOLVING IN COMMUNITY POLICING AGENCIES
I. : Disorderly House
In this town of 20,000, a residential house known as "Cozette's" was the focal point for fights, shootings, stabbing’s, narcotics sales, and illegal gambling. Prostitution, fencing of stolen property, and unlicenced alcohol sales also took place in this "family" home located in a largely residential neighborhood. The yard served as a landfill, junkyard, and open restroom. Despite a few arrests, "traditional" enforcement approaches were not working. Arrests were made even harder to come by due to the constant presence of lookouts.
Local officials tried a broader approach to the problem and called a meeting of various city and county agencies. The police furnished written reports on past incidents at Cozette's. The fire department conducted two detailed inspections of the premises and compiled a lengthy list of code violations. City housing officials and electrical inspectors went to the house with police assistance and listed various code violations. Undercover officers cited various violations regarding the serving of food on-premises. Checks of legal documents were made to identify the actual owner of the house.
The local district attorney's office then called all of the involved agencies together, compiled a formal listing of the criminal and regulatory violations, discovered, and filed public nuisance papers on the owner of the property. The District Attorney asked for a permanent injunction through the District Court and alleged that "the property constituted a common nuisance detrimental to the health, life, and property of all citizens in the city of Brownwood." After several months of legal wrangling the court granted the injunction and the city moved to condemn the property. Because of all the pressure brought to bear on the owner, she agreed to tear the entire property down. Cozette's ceased to exist as a police problem.
II. Edmonton Alberta: Prostitution
Prostitutes had begun to work the street in front of the "Scattered Leaves" apartment building. Constable Mike Crustolot invested the time to count the number of vehicles whose drivers were stopping to speak with the women. Because of the traffic volume and patterns, the street in question was made one-way, and the prostitutes moved elsewhere.
III. Santa Anna, California Crack House
A vacant apartment had become a haven for narcotic users and prostitutes. The owner had shown no interest in renting it and bad allowed it to deteriorate to the point that it created a threat to the health of the other tenants. After inspecting and citing the location for numerous violations, Offlcers Debbie Reyes and Tony Duncan contacted the owner and described to him how they could petition the State Franchise Tax Board to take away the tax benefits he received through depreciation of the property. The following day the owner had the entire building cleaned and boarded up.
IV. Denver Colorado: Sex in the Park
The Denver Police Department is implementing the problem-solving concepts of Community Oriented Problem Solving (COPS) in attempting to solve a long running problem of "sex in the bushes" in Denver's Chessman Park. Responding to complaints from the park's neighbors about "naked people" in the bordering hedge rows, Denver Police Department's community resource officers have been working with the city's parks department to make the parks a less-hospitable place for such liaisons. The strategy includes a new automated sprinkling system set to water during evening hours. Additional lighting as a possibility, and the tnmming of trees and shrubs around secluded spots. The planting of "abrasive plants" is also under consideration. Denver Police Department refers to the strategy as "crime prevention through environmental design."
V. Reno Nevada: Special Tax District
As a result of a successful foot patrol program, casino and business owners worked with the police department to develop legislation allowing the downtown business owners to create a special tax district. The special tax district allows business owners to pay for new officer positions that would be allocated specifically for the downtown area. The law was passed in the last legislature and planning for as many as 28 new officer positions was discussed and implemented.
VI. Gainesville Florida Convenience Store Robberies
Pat Callahan of the Gainesville (FL) Police Department recognized that convenience store robberies in that city were a common occurrence. Of the 47 convenience stores located there, 45 had been robbed at least once in five years. While convenience stores made up only three percent of the business establishments in Gainesville, they accounted for 50 percent of the commercial robberies. Although the amount of cash taken in these robberies was often small, the cost to the community was significant. It included injuries to innocent bystanders and employees and a significant expenditure of police resources used to investigate these crimes.
Callahan examined the physical environment around these convenience stores, the personnel practices of the establishments, the staffing patterns of the stores, and ordinances in other cities designed to address the problem of convenience store robbenes. He found that 75 percent of the robberies occurred between 7:00 P.M. and 5:00 A.M. In 92 percent of the robberies, only one clerk was present. He determined that personnel staffing policies and environment factors contributed to the convenience store robbery problem in Gainesville.
The Gainesville Police Department pushed for a local ordinance mandating specific crime prevention measures for convenience stores. The proposed ordinance requires that:
Two or more employees work between 8:00 P.M. and 4:00 A.M.
A maximum of only $60.00 be kept in the register
A drop safe be installed in the floor
Visual obstructions be removed from the store windows
Parking lots be well lit
All store employees be trained in robbery prevention
Operational robbery detection cameras be installed and used
The local ordinance was enacted in 1986. Between 1986 and 1990, convenience store robberies in Gainesville decreased 89 percent. Apprehension of convenience store robbers increased during this same period from 29 percent to 81 percent. In Tallahassee, which is similar is size to Gainesville and is located nearby, convenience store robberies had a large and steady increase during the same time period.
Between 1981 and 1986, prior to the ordinance, Gainesville convenience store employees sustained 18 injuries as a result of robberies. Since 1986, no injuries have occurred.
VII. Reno Nevada: Homeless Coalition
Reno has a permanent population of an estimated 200 to 300 "hardcore" transients. Two major social service agencies are located downtown. Daily they draw a large crowd of homeless and transients resulting in continual complaints from downtown merchants. The police, the downtown property owners association, and social service agencies have dealt with the problem independently in the past.
A Homeless Coalition, consisting of downtown property owners, members of city government, social service agencies, hospitals and the police was formed to deal with this concern. A permanent facility outside the downtown area has been planned. The facility will be funded by contributions from downtown businesses and the combined sale of social service properties in the downtown area.
Police have also net-worked with the hospitals and detoxification centers to ensure there is a consistent approach to dealing with the problem. Enforcement has taken a back seat to planning and problem solving.
VIII. Reno’s Landlord Education Program
Several apartment complexes in Northeast Reno were plagued with tenants trafficking drugs. Many of the tenants were receiving HUD (Urban Housing Development) assistance to live in the complex. Previous enforcement efforts had been unsuccessful. Police organized meetings with the representatives of the District Attorney's Office, land-lord tenant affairs and apartment complex owners. It was evident that the landlords did not know their rights and were concerned that any attempts toward eviction would result in lawsuits and claims of harassment. They were concerned about the deterioration of the properties due to the influx of drugs and prostitution but did not know how to deal with the problem.
In reviewing the alternatives, participants discovered that HUD (Urban Housing Development) had strict regulations for applicants receiving aid. Many of the people suspected of drug sales were in violation of these guidelines. An eviction program was developed and in a cooperative effort with all concerned, eleven individuals were evicted. Some will not be eligible to reapply for HUD (Urban Housing Development) funding.
IX. Tempe Arizona Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED)
Proper design and the effective use of the environment can lead to a reduction in the incidence and fear of crime in a neighborhood, according to Sergeant Al Taylor of the Tempe (AZ) Police Department. Taylor uses the principles of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED).
Taylor says that when doing problem-solving, officers, as part of their analysis, should examine whether the physical environment contributes to the problem they are working to address. If it does, the principles of CPTED may be useful in developing an effective response to the problem.
Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) recognizes that there are four key qualities necessary for a secure environment. These four qualities are:
The first, "natural surveillance," is based on the fact that most criminals do not want to be observed while committing crimes. Areas should be designed to allow plenty of opportunity for community residents to observe the space around them.
The second concept is "access control." Criminal intruders will often try to gain entrance to areas where they will not be observed. Limiting access can keep them out altogether.
The third concept is "territoriality." It is based on the belief that people take more interest in something they own. A person who has a vested interest in an area is more likely to challenge intruders or report them to the police. In an environment that has a sense of owned space, outsiders stand out and are more easily identified.
The final concept is "activity support." This involves choosing the location of an activity so that it invites members of the community to become part of the natural surveillance system and thereby create a secure environment.
The Tempe Police Department used the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) philosophy to remedy a juvenile loitering problem in a local business area. Business owners began playing classical music over loudspeakers outside of their establishments. Several juveniles were interviewed by a local newspaper reporter. One youth commented that the music was "irritating" and "if it continued, they were not coming back." The music continued and the youths no longer congregated there.
In another business area, pay phones were being used by drug dealers to transact business. Using Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) concepts, business owners installed rotary phones instead of push-button phones. As a result, drug dealers could no longer access personal pagers via these phones.
Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) has also been used to successfully resolve other serious crimes. At a local Tempe library, several sexual assaults of children occurred near the library’s bathrooms. When crime prevention officers looked at the facility, they made several recommendations including relocating the pay phones away from the restrooms.
Relocating the phones was suggested because it was determined that the offenders waited unnoticed by the phones for the victims and were using the phones as natural cover for their activities. In addition, a second library book check out desk was positioned near the restrooms so check-out employees would notice anyone loitering nearby.
THE KEY ELEMENTS OF PROBLEM ORIENTED POLICING
The Reno, Nevada Police Department instituted POP several years ago. During this period they have identified several key elements of a successful POP program. These elements are:
1. Focusing on "Problems" as the Basic Unit of Police Work
A problem is a basic unit of police work rather than a crime, a case, a call, or an incident. A problem is a group or pattern of crimes, cases, calls, or incidents.
2. Focusing on What the Citizens Perceive as a Problem
A problem is something that concerns or causes harm to citizens, not just the police. Things that concern only police officers are important, but they are not problems in this sense of the term.
3. Focusing on Resolving Problems
Addressing problems means more than quick fixes; it means dealing with conditions that create problems. Instead of continually running from call to call and putting a temporary quick fix on the problem, the officer can get job satisfaction from analyzing the problem and solving it.
4. Analysis Before Response
Police officers must routinely and systematically investigate problems before trying to solve them, just as they routinely and systematically investigate crimes before making an arrest. Individual officers, and the department as a whole, must develop routines and systems for investigating problems.
In the Montgomery County Alabama Police Problem Oriented Policing program they have identified several points that should be focused on. They are:
1. Complexity of the Analysis Should Match the Complexity of the Problem
Although the investigation of problems must be thorough, it doesn't have to be complicated. This principle is as true for problem investigation as it is for criminal investigation.
2. Determining the "Root" Cause of the Problem
Problems must be described precisely and accurately and broken down into their basic parts. Problems often aren't what they first appear to be.
3. Involving the "Stakeholder" in the Procedure"
Problems must be understood in terms of the various interests at stake. Individuals and groups of-people are affected in different ways by a problem and frequently have different ideas about what should be done about it.
4. The Need to Analyze Our Current Responses to the Problem
The way the problem is currently being handled must be understood and the limits of effectiveness must be openly acknowledged in order to come up with a better response.
5. "Brainstorm" Possible Solutions
Initially, any and all responses to a problem should be considered so as not to cut short potentially effective responses. Suggested responses should follow from what is learned during the problem-solving process. These responses should not be limited to, nor rule out, the use of arrest.
6. Anticipate Problems Before They Occur
The police must be pro-active and try to solve problems before they occur rather than just react to their harmful consequences. This requires the Department to leave behind the old “reactive” method of thought process and to plan ahead for what ever problems that they may perceive as cropping up. The Montgomery County Police Problem Oriented Policing empowers its employees and allows they to form a strong police-community partnership.
The police department must increase police officers' and detectives' freedom to make or participate in important decisions. At the same time, officers must be accountable for their decisions.
8. Effectiveness is the Ultimate Goal
The effectiveness of new responses must be evaluated so that these results can be shared with other police officers and so the department can systematically learn what does and does not work.
THE PROBLEM SOLVING TRIANGLE
Crime analysts have long recognized that three factors exist in any crime. These three factors are: 1) a victim, 2) an offender and 3) a location. We would be wrong if we assumed that crime strikes all victims equally, occurs in all locations with the same frequency and that all criminals commit the same amount of crimes. Spellman and Eck published an article in 1989 in which they discussed the frequency of crime in relation to the victim, the offender and the location. The article stated that 66% of the crimes are committed by the same offenders. Unfortunately, until recently, law enforcement agencies have not targeted these offenders for increased attention this occurred about ten years ago with; the creation of the first repeat offender units. These units sought to target the career criminal in order to reduce crime.
The Problem Solving Triangle
Studies have shown that 60 percent of crime that is committed is committed by the same offenders.
If a small amount of offenders are committing a disproportionate amount of crime (repeat offenders), could it also be that a small amount of victims are being victimized a disproportionate amount? Again, we see that 10 percent of the crime victims are being victimized 40 percent of the time.
This also holds true for locations where crime is happening. Approximately 60 percent of the crime is happening at 10 percent of the crime locations (dens of inequity)
Research indicates that there are usually good reasons why these offenders, victims and locations account for so much crime. If we can successfully target this 10%, we can substantially reduce the crime rate in our jurisdiction.
The offender, the victim and the location make up the three sides of the Problem Solving Triangle. If we remove any one of these sides, the triangle will collapse! When we are doing problem solving, we should keep this in mind and design responses which will attack at least one of the sides of the triangle.
Research & Traditional Policing
A review of the research indicates that the traditional methods of policing have not necessarily been effective in reducing crime. The conclusions arrived at by Skolnick and Bayley are typical: a brief synopsis is presented. It is acknowledged that conflicting points of view exist within the law enforcement community.
Research indicates that:
Increasing the size of the police force does not directly relate to a decrease in the crime rate or to an increase in the proportion of crimes solved.
Randomized motor patrol neither lowers crime nor increases the chances of catching suspects.
Two person patrol cars are not more effective than one person cars in either lowering the crime rate or in catching criminals; also, they have not proven to be more safe.
Saturation patrol does not reduce crime; it merely displaces it.
The type of crime that terrifies Americans the most (mugging, rape, robbery, burglary, and homicide) is rarely encountered by police on patrol.
Improving response time on calls has no effect on the likelihood of arresting criminals or even in satisfying involved citizens.
Crimes are seldom solved through criminal investigations alone! They are usually solved because the suspects are immediately apprehended or because someone identifies them (particulars etc).
WHERE DO COMMUNITY POLICING PROBLEMS COME FROM
Community Policing projects come to us in two different ways: "top-down" and "bottom-up."
In the top-down manner, a perceived problem may come from the Ministry of Interior, the Court Systems, the Prosecutor Office or from the Office of the IG. These problems will be relayed to the Superintendent who will in turn send them down the chain of command to a shift or unit supervisor who will assign the problem to a constable for handling.
The "bottom-up" manner happens when an officer recognizes that a problem exists and requests to open a Community Policing project. The officer completes a specific request form and submits it to his/her supervisor for approval. Since two of the basic tenets of community policing are problem-solving and empowerment, the supervisor will usually approve the request. There may be instances when a supervisor will disapprove a request. Some of the possible reasons for disapproving a request may include:
1. The perceived problem does not meet one or more of the elements of a realistic problem;
2. Another officer is already working on that same problem;
3. The requesting officer is already over committed with existing work assignments or;
4. Sufficient resources are not currently available to handle the problem.