In the past, policing in the criminal justice system was highly different from the trend that has been there in the recent years. The police departments were concerned with upgrading the personnel through training, streamlining the organization and using highly modern equipment. However the police started to face higher pressures in the 1960’s due to the increased crime rates and civil rights demonstrations. Scholars began to call for a reassessment of the policing model in the country. It was perceived there is an imbalance in policing as the staff was overly concerned with the internal operations of the departments and not the pressures within the community. This led to the birth of the concept of problem oriented policing.
Problem Oriented Policing
In the past there had been high focus on improving the internal operations and the staff in the police department. Policing was perceived to be highly impersonal. However, in the recent years, there has been a shifting focus on problem oriented policing. This is an approach where the police focus on the substantive problems in the environment rather than prioritizing internal efficiency of the organization (Goldstein, 238). It was suggested that the police should try to reduce the tendency to be highly reactive to the environment and responding to calls all the time.
The police should invest more time investing in activities with addressing the root causes that generate these calls. Environmental policing in other words is involved in intense study of the crimes in order for the police to understand the methods that offenders use and the choices they make in committing their crimes and how some get away with what they have done. It is also a study of victimology and why certain areas in the community are “hotspots” for the criminals. The police are interested in protecting the repeat victims and the other members in the community. What are the characteristics of the problem environment?
The police therefore scrutinize the incidents they handle every week, the arrest of offenders in domestic abuse, gender violence or homicide and analyze the situation in microscopic detail with the assistance of crime analysts and other specialists in order to new and innovative ways of dealing with the problems. Strategies that are problem-oriented tend to be preventive in nature. The police should engage the private and public entities and the community in coming up with the strategies that will help the environment to be safer.
Problem oriented policing changes everything since the police performance is not measured by the arrest warrants, index crime rates or the response rates (Mastrofski and Uchida, 340). The measurement parameters would be the effectiveness of the police in addressing community problems.
There have been various challenges in the adoption of problem oriented policing by the police. There are those who do not fully understand what it means. There has been confusion where community policing has been taken to have the same meaning as problem oriented policing (Scott, 56). The police have been dedicating their time in opening the channels of communication with the community and the public entities in order to receive information and tips on crime and disorder. There has basically been little training in problem oriented policing.
The necessary skills set for problem oriented policing may also be inadequate in the police force. Police work tends to be reactive and hurried. There is a high volume of work to be
done within a limited period of time. Therefore the police hurry to ensure that they handle the numerous emergency calls, patrol the large territories they are in charge of and investigate many crimes.
Problem oriented policing on the other hand requires a slightly different mindset where the method is deliberate and proactive. The police would need to separate certain incidents and crimes from the high volume of business that the police deal with and analyzing the data for discrete problems. A lot of time and attention is required. The police would need researchers for this kind of work different from the criminal investigators approach where they are eager to move the cases quickly, either to drop them or give to the next stage of the criminal justice system.
The value of police knowledge in addressing the problems in the community when it comes to crime and disorder cannot be underestimated. The police in their daily or weekly work are aware of the pain and trauma suffered by women in abusive relationships and the horrors experienced by children who have been sexually abused. The police officers who are sensitive are able to give a lot of passion to the problem oriented approach of policing.
The police are also aware than other members of the community of such factors as the increase in crime against the elderly and the increase in arson where the motive is monetary gain. They are also aware of the difficulties that the mentally ill face when they try to adjust to life in the community once they are released. With the police as a valuable asset, they should be equipped with the proper support and training in order for problem-oriented policing to be a success.
Goldstein, Herman. “Improving Policing: A Problem-Oriented Approach.” Crime and
Delinquency, 25(1979): 236-58. Print.
Mastrofski Stephen and Craig Uchida. “Transforming the Police.” Journal of Research
in Crime and Delinquency, 30.3(1993): 330-358. Print.
Scott, Michael. “Getting the Police to Take Problem-Oriented Policing Seriously.”Crime
Prevention Studies, 15(2003): 49-77. Print.