Tuesday, May 29, 2012

60 Steps Revisited: Step 6 - Be Very Crime Specific

Back in 2009, I did a series of posts covering the excellent book Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers. The book is published by the US DOJ's Problem Oriented Policing Center (POP Center). Because of the value I think this book has for crime analysts, and policing in general, I am going to re-post this series on here on the blog. 


In our journey through Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers we've seen that successfully implementing Problem Oriented Policing requires carefully adhering to the principals of POP. The next step is to Be Very Crime Specific.

It's important to understand that crimes that may have similar sounding offense titles, may have very differing dynamics behind the crimes and hence require a different solution to solve the problems. In the city where I work, we had a problem with burglaries for a number of years. The biggest problem was with daytime residential burglaries committed by somewhat unsophisticated criminals. Their modus operandi (M.O.) was to drive around till they found a residence that appeared to be unoccupied, force open a door, and then grab small, portable, high value items and flee the scene rapidly.

The solution to target this type of burglar would not apply to the home invasion burglar who strikes an occupied dwelling with the intention of robbing the occupants by force. They are both violations of the same statute in the Texas Penal Code, but the M.O. is completely different. Because of these types of differences, the solution to one would likely work on the other.

Additionally, focusing on a specific type of offense allows you to determine if the number of crimes of that type is worth the expenditure of resources it would take to implement a successful solution.
There are few rules for determining precisely the level of specificity needed for a successful POP project. Tightening the focus too much could result in too few crimes being addressed to justify the expenditure of resources, though this depends on the nature and seriousness of the crimes. If only a few hubcaps are being stolen, then this problem would not merit a full-blown POP project. On the other hand, a POP project to reduce corner store robberies could be worth undertaking, even if only a few such robberies occur each year, because these can escalate into worse crimes such as murder, and because they increase public fear. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers
Depending on your analysis, you may be able to address to related crimes with the same or similar solutions.
Finally, as you learn more about a problem in the analysis stage, you might decide that it is so similar to a related problem that it is worth addressing the two together. For instance, when working on a problem of assaults on taxi drivers, you might discover that many of these are related to robbery attempts and that it would be more economical to focus your project on both robberies and assaults. In this way you may identify a package of measures that would reduce the two problems together. Source:Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers

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