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Problem Oriented Policing, Case Studies

NCJ Number
Date Published
97 pages
Publication Series
Given Herman Goldstein's (he first articulated the concept of problem-oriented policing) concern that the superficial applications of problem-oriented policing may lead to the concept being discredited, this paper argues that problem-oriented policing requires the help of the academic community in defining the proper scope and methods of problem-oriented policing and in implementing problem-oriented projects.
This help could be provided by "environmental criminologists," who are well-suited to working with the police in solving crime problems. They have particular experience in undertaking crime analyses intended to identify the environmental and situational factors that influence criminal decision-making. These criminologists have developed such concepts as crime "hot spots" and "repeat victimization," which are concepts directly applicable to the analysis of the problems that confront police. Ways must be found to engage the interest of these criminologists in collaborative work with police. This might be done through research funding that targets problem-oriented policing linked more directly to the core theoretical interests of environmental criminologists. Links between environmental criminology and problem-oriented policing could also be enhanced if the problem-oriented policing literature would make more direct use of the concepts and techniques borrowed from environmental criminology. Further, Goldstein has always recognized that a commitment to problem-oriented policing requires a substantial in-house analytic and evaluative capacity, and the fact that most departments have not developed this capacity readily explains the lack of "situational" projects. The skills needed for such projects are essentially those of the well-trained social scientist. This requires that police departments recruit more individuals with such backgrounds, provide them with substantial on-the-job training; allow them to exercise professional judgement; and develop an understanding of their professional motivations and objectives. These individuals must be allowed to assume responsibility for the management and direction of problem-oriented projects. Thus, if problem-oriented policing is to gain credibility through effective projects, assistance must be sought from academics who have the knowledge and skills required for crime analysis and strategy development and implementation. 84 references and appended analysis of submissions for the Police Executive Research Forum's Goldstein Award in 1995

Date Published: January 1, 1998