Monday, January 16, 2017

An Introduction to Common Policing Strategies Part 2

I originally wrote this post for a software company’s blog in 2014. This company was bought out and recently their blog and website have been removed from the web permanently. I am reposting it here for posterity. 

Last week I began a post that looked at common policing strategies and highlighted some of the differences between them. As I stated last week, I wanted to expose crime analysts who may not have come to the field from an academic background to some of the major policing strategies and terms.

They were:

  • Community Policing
  • Broken Windows Policing
  • CompStat
  • Hot Spot Policing
  • Problem Oriented Policing
  • Intelligence Led Policing
  • DDACTS

In last week’s post I covered the first three. In this post we’ll finish up the rest of them.


Hot Spot Policing
Hot Spot Policing relies heavily on the use of crime mapping technology to determine where crime is concentrated geographically and then concentrates police resources in that area. Hot spot policing relies on the fact that in many communities, a small number of geographic locations are responsible for a disproportionate number of crimes.

As it was originally implemented, Hot Spot Policing did not direct officers sent to change their strategy in these hot spots, but to just spend more time in these areas. However, combining approaches such as implementing a problem oriented policing approach in crime hot spots is likely to be much more effective that just traditional policing strategies alone.

One caution about Hot Spot Policing is that unfocused, intensive enforcement actions in hot spots can lead to community relations problems with citizens in these geographic areas. We have to remember that even though crime may be more prevalent in these areas, it does not mean that everyone who lives in these areas is a criminal.

This was one of the frequently heard complaints with “Stop and Frisk” as it was implemented in some communities. Residents in these areas felt they were under siege both by the criminals and by the police. However, a Community Policing strategy can pay dividends in a crime hot spot by engaging residents and making them a part of the process.


Problem Oriented Policing
I have to be honest, Problem Oriented Policing is my favorite policing strategy. POP uses analysis to identify and understand crime and disorder problems and then to develop effective strategies to deal with those problems.

Usually, POP deals with discrete problems such as Disorder at Budget Motels or Bicycle Thefts as opposed to broader strategies that might encompass all the crimes occurring within a community or neighborhood.

POP relies on the SARA model of scanning, analysis, response and assessment in analyzing problems. It also uses the Problem Analysis Triangle or Crime Triangle in order to understand recurring crime and disorder problems.

Another feature of POP is that it is not solely reliant on the criminal justice system to solve these problems. POP has a “whatever works” approach to dealing with these problems. For instance, if an analysis determines that a particular bar is responsible for most of the disorder in and around a nightclub district, an effective strategy might be to use zoning or alcohol regulations to reduce the influence this nightclub has on the problem.

Often times, the most practical approach to a crime and disorder problem is one that focuses on prevention as opposed to a traditional reactive law enforcement approach of arresting bad guys after a crime has been committed.


Intelligence Led Policing
Intelligence Led Policing combines policing activities with criminal intelligence gathering to understand the criminal entities that drive crime in a community. This intelligence can be used to target criminals and the criminal enterprises that pose the greatest risk to the community.

Just like Hot Spot Policing focuses on the geographic area where crime is most prevalent, Intelligence Led Policing focuses on the criminals that are most prolific.

Intelligence Led Policing requires an agency to develop a criminal intelligence function within the agency that implements the Intelligence Cycle of collection, collation, analysis, dissemination and re-evaluation of criminal intelligence.


DDACTS (Data Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety)
DDACTS is a policing strategy that melds two common responsibilities of police; crime suppression and traffic safety. The idea behind DDACTS is to analyze the geographic locations of traffic accidents and crimes and to deploy traffic enforcement activities where these two types of incidents commonly intersect.

These traffic enforcement activities offer a visible deterrent for criminals operating in these areas as well as working to reduce the number of traffic accidents. Additionally, since many criminals engage in crimes while operating vehicles, these traffic enforcement operations can develop information about the criminals operating in an area.

DDACTS has the advantage of addressing these two different public safety issues at the same time.


The policing strategies we’ve looked at in the past two posts are not all the strategies out there but they are probably the most common ones. I hope that this introduction gives you a better understanding of the differences between them.

I’ve included some resources for more information. This list is by no means all inclusive but has one pretty good one for each strategy. If necessary, an Internet search engine can help you find many more.

US DOJ Community Oriented Policing Services Office

Center for Evidence Based Crime Policy Broken Windows Policing page

Police Foundation CompStat page

NIJ Hot Spot Policing page

Center for Problem Oriented Policing

National Criminal Justice Research Service Intelligence Led Policing document 

NHTSA DDACTS Site

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