Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Arrest Not Always The Answer To Every Crime Problem

USA Today had a great piece on how Providence, Rhode Island Police have used the "High Point" strategy to turn a formerly violent housing project into a safe place for people to live. From the story:
Non-violent, low-level dealers are called in to meet with police, prosecutors, community members and social service agencies. They're shown video and other evidence of their dealing. The dealers are told that if they're caught selling drugs again, they'll be prosecuted based on the case police have built against them. "Banking" that case allows police to make a credible prosecution threat, Kennedy said. 
Community members tell the dealers to stop because they're destroying their neighborhoods and families. Social workers promise to help them get straight. 
People who live in those communities say it makes a "night and day" difference in their lives. 
"On a scale of zero to 10, it used to be a zero, and now it's a 10. That's how good it is," said Rolando Matos, who has lived in Chad Brown for seven years. "It's peaceful. You can be outside and not worry about people shooting."
A program like this might not appease the "lock 'em up and throw away the key" crowd but now that the economic realities of using incarceration to solve societal problems has proven to less than palatable, strategies such as Providence's High Point strategy have more of a chance.

Programs like this reinforce the mantra: "You can't always arrest your way out of every crime problem." Besides, no one really cares how a crime problem got solved, just that it got solved. Don't be afraid to apply non-traditional strategies to crime problems in your community.

I was involved in a discussion this morning with several police supervisors on how we could use non-traditional thinking to solve a crime and disorder problem in the sleepy little burg where I work. Fortunately, we had the experience of using a similar strategy to solve a different crime problem a few years ago so we already had a proven strategy to work with.

What crime problems in your community might benefit from a non-traditional approach?

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