Problem-Oriented Policing

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The concept of problem-oriented policing sprang from the work of police scholar Herman Goldstein. (United States Dept. of Justice, 2011) Goldstein presented the concept of problem-oriented policing first in a 1979 article and in 1990 wrote a book on this subject called, Problem-Oriented Policing. He began his work in police research during graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania and currently is professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School. (Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, 2012)

Problem-oriented policing focuses on improving crime-reduction strategies through the use of a few key elements and basic functions. Two key elements of problem-oriented policing are the scanning, analysis, response, and assessment (SARA) and the problem analysis triangle. (United States Dept. of Justice, 2011) SARA involves four steps. The first step, scanning, involves identifying recurring problems and their consequences for the community and the police, prioritizing those problems, and selecting, which problems to examine closer. The second step, analysis, involves identifying preceding conditions and events of the problem, researching and collecting known and relevant data, examining strengths and weaknesses of the current response, and developing a working hypothesis for why the problem exists. Response is the third step and involves brainstorming solutions, choosing and outlining a response plan, and implementing the plan. The final step, assessment, involves process evaluation, determining if goals were met, and identifying new strategies if needed. (United States Dept. of Justice, 2011) The problem analysis triangle is a problem-solving method that analyzes the cause of problems of crime and disorder. (Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, 2012)

A variety of guidebooks, web-based tools, and conferences exist for training with POP. On the POP center website, users can experiment with the Problem Analyses Module, the Street Prostitution Interactive Module, and find real life examples in the Situational Crime Prevention Evaluation Database.

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