Wednesday, August 31, 2011

If Your Environment Contributes To A Crime Problem, Change Your Environment

USA Today had a great piece looking at fan violence at sporting events in the United States. There have been a couple of recent high profile incidents take place at sporting events and this is enough to get professional sports franchises worried about the public’s perception of stadium violence. From the story:
Of 69,732 fans at this month's Oakland Raiders-San Francisco 49ers NFL game, 70 were ejected from Candlestick Park, 12 were arrested, two were shot in the parking lot — and one was savagely beaten in a restroom.

Images of the violence, proliferating through social and news media, struck a foul chord with fans and with stadium operators, many setting security policies without uniform guidance.

"The viciousness, the escalation of the violence is what is so striking," said Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based SportsCorp, a sports business consulting firm. "It's escalated, perhaps, as a reflection of society."
One thing I think is interesting is that none of the folks quoted in the article stated that this problem was a police issue; every one indicated that the solution to the problem was largely the responsibility of the sports franchises. I think the biggest reason for this is that the problem is largely environmental. In other words, it’s not the lack of police presence that sets the stage for fan violence but other factors such as rampant inebriation and crowd behavior.

Of course this brings up a good point; the solution to a crime problem does not always involve law enforcement. There are some crime problems, such as stadium violence, that can be better controlled by changing the environmental factors that make these problems more likely to occur. As I have said here before, you can’t always arrest your way out of a crime problem.

Does your agency face a thorny crime problem? Have you looked at the likely factors that contribute to the problem? Which factor is easiest to change and will give you the greatest long term impact?

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