Community oriented policing services or COPS developed as a response to public fears in the early 1990s of rampant crime and politicians promises to “put 100,000 officers” on the streets at a minimal cost (Roth & Ryan, 2000). At around the same time new research into policing methods began to question the traditional police approach to fighting crime. According to the research, simply putting out more patrols to respond to crimes after they happen was not enough to substantially decrease crime. Instead, the research argued police needed to attack the underlying issues that facilitate the occurrence of crime (Roth & Ryan, 2000). Moreover, the research suggested that the police efforts at problem-solving combined with the development of close ties with the community to work partners in fighting crime was the only way to effectively prevent crime from ever happening. The confluence of these two circumstances helped convince Congress to set aside monies in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to fund state and local programs that: (1) increased the number of officers deployed in the community; (2) facilitated police problem-solving and interaction with communities; (3) foster innovation in policing; and (4) developed new technologies that would assist police in carry out the above three goals (Roth & Ryan, 2000). Besides these four specific goals, Congress left the exact design of federal funded COPS program to the discretion of the community receiving funds.
Two communities that have proven successful but different in implemented COPS programs are Chicago and Boston. Chicago’s COPS program is known as Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS). As specified under the federal funding scheme, CAPS focuses on community involvement and problem-solving. With CAPS, police have been able to develop deep and mutually beneficial ties with the community to identify and solve “neighborhood crime problems” (Skogin & Steiner, 2004). Under CAPS, the community, which includes other government agencies, schools, social service providers, church groups and local businesses, come together in what is known as a “Beats Meeting.” Beats Meetings are the chance for the community and the police to exchange information, identify problems and develop strategies to resolve the identified problems. Another effective tool of the CAPS program is the organization of the police force into two distinct groups namely beat officers and rapid response officers. A beat officer is CAPS first line of defense. They are the officers on patrol on the streets every day. Beat officers are assigned a specific district which they patrol on a daily basis for at least a year. Accordingly, beat officers get to know the people in their districts as well as the problems that exist. Alternatively, rapid response officers don’t actively patrol an area but rather are available to handle emergency situations across the city as well as provide support for the beat officer. Taken together, the beat and rapid response officers provide the police department with both tactical and strategic tools to work on preventing crime as well as responding to crime that cannot be prevented. An evaluation of CAPS has shown it to be effective in reducing crime, including the recently released, especially in several of the city’s worst areas (Skogin, 1996).
Boston’s program, unlike CAPS, has a more specific goal. Rather than focusing its efforts on preventing all crimes, Boston’s program emphasizes limited violent crime, especially gun crimes committed by felons (Braga et al., 2009). Similar to CAPS, the Boston program includes both developing community partnerships and working with the community to identify problems and solve them. In the Boston program, the community consists of the law enforcement community and the traditional neighborhood community. As in the CAPS program, the Boston programs works with the traditional neighborhood community to: identify people that are known to be involved with gun crimes or gun activity, getting people help in the recovery of illegal guns, socializing people, especially the young, to avoid getting involved in gun activity, to encourage efforts to stop or limit the growth of gangs. These activities are accomplished through a combination of police-community anti-violence/anti-gang campaigns, public awareness promotions and public safety efforts. The Boston program also works with the law enforcement community including prosecutors and parole officers that aggressively go after people involved in gun crimes to not only get them off the street but also to provide a clear warning to potential criminals or gang members that the city has zero-tolerance for gun crimes. Boston’s program has proven itself quite effective in lowering violent crimes especially among the young including a decrease of 63 percent in the monthly number of youth homicides (Braga et al, 2009).
The main reasons why a recently released inmate would commit a crime again are: lack of a job; lack of housing; lack of access to social services, inability to keep probation commitments and temptation. Accordingly, the key task in developing a COPS program specifically set to reduce recidivism, would be to establish a strong police-community partnership that supported the recently released satisfy these needs. As we see in both the CAPS and Boston program, police-community partnerships are the core of their effectiveness. In our COPS program, the focus would be on police keeping an eye on the recently released and getting to know them and their needs. This could be modeled after the CAPS beat officer. A beat officer, moreover, can work with the community to create opportunities for the recently released or assistance when they need it. For example, police can work with a local social services agency to help an inmate get treatment, get a job or housing. Additionally, providing a deterrent to warn the recently released to not give in to temptation. This could be modeled on the Boston program’s zero tolerance program. Any recently release inmate that commits another crime would suffer a harsher penalty if found guilty.
Understanding that Snake already participated in ABC programming but has resisted their effect and knowing that he also has a number of deeper issues; any new approach would most likely need to address his issues on two fronts. First, Snake’s bipolar disorder must be treated. This is best done through a combination of medication and counseling. No effective treatment of bipolar disorder is absent medication. In fact, people with bipolar disorder my need to take medication for the rest of their lives. The medication is needed to control the outgrowths of the disorder including hyperactivity, hostility, irritability, and mood swings. Once the medication stabilizes Snake’s mood, he may become more participatory in group sessions and less likely to get into fights. Besides, the medication, Snake should also get individual counselling so that he can discuss the feelings, ideas and moods that had in the past lead to his violent actions and how he can cope with them. Second, to deal with the issues surrounding his molestation as a child, Snake should enter into a Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) program. MRT was designed for treatment resistant individuals like Snake. It focuses on getting participants to confront their beliefs and attitudes in the hopes that this will develop their moral reasoning to ever higher levels until they fully understand right from wrong and why and how they should right over wrong (NREPP, 2008). MRT will help Snake confront the issues of his father’s molestation of him and that he should not blame himself. MRT has proven quite effective in lowering the recidivism rates recently released inmates (Little et al., 1993).
Braga, A., Kennedy, D., Waring, E., & Morrison, A. (2001). Problem-oriented policing, deterrence, and youth violence: An evaluation of Boston’s operation ceasefire. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 28(3), 195-225.
Little, G.L., Robinson, K.D., & Burnetter, K.D. (1993). Cognitive behavior treatment of felony drug offenders: A five-year recidivism report. Psychology Reports, 73, 1089-1090.
National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices – NREPP. (2008). Moral Reconation Therapy. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from http://www.nrepp.samhsa.gov/ViewIntervention.aspx?id=34
Pelfrey, W.V. (2004). The inchoate nature of community policing: Differences between community policing and traditional police officers. Justice Quarterly, 21(3), 579-601.
Roth, J.A., & Ryan, J.F. (2000). The COPS program after 4 years-National evaluation. http://www.urban.org/pdfs/COPS_summary.pdf
Skogan, W.G. (1996). Evaluating problem-solving policing: The Chicago Experience. Institute of Policy Research-Northwestern University.
Skogan, W.G. & Steiner, L. (2004). An evaluation of Chicago’s alternative policing strategy. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from https://portal.chicagopolice.org/i/cpd/clearpath/Caps10.pdf