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Problem Solving in Practice: Implementing Community Policing in Chicago

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2000
40 pages
Publication Series
After summarizing the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) and describing the problem solving roles of both citizens and police, this evaluation report identifies obstacles that affect both citizen involvement in and police commitment to the program and presents general strategies for implementing a problem solving approach based on the Chicago observations.
In Chicago's problem solving model for policing, a "problem" is defined as a group of related incidents or an ongoing situation that concerns a significant portion of those who live or work in a particular area. Although dealing with crime remains at the core of the police mission, it was envisioned from the beginning that the police mandate would coordinate responses to a broad range of community concerns, including social disorder, municipal service problems, and code enforcement matters previously handled by civil courts. To implement problem solving, police and neighborhood residents were trained to handle problems using a five-step process: identify problems and prioritize them; analyze information about offenders, victims, and crime location; design strategies that address the chronic character of priority problems; implement the strategies; and evaluate effectiveness. For the evaluation described in this report, study beats were selected to reflect the diversity of the city. To assess the capacity of these areas to help themselves through problem solving, residents were surveyed, neighborhood meetings were observed, and activists were interviewed. The study found that poor and internally divided beats experienced greater difficulty in translating their objectives into practice than did more affluent and racially homogeneous areas. The evaluation found that the factor most closely associated with successful program implementation was effective leadership, particularly the leadership of beat sergeants. Among the recommendations for enhancing program implementation is more training for beat officers. 3 figures and 3 suggested readings

Date Published: April 1, 2000