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Problem-Oriented Policing
Policing: Law Enforcement

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> Problem Analysis in Policing

> Center for Problem Oriented Policing

> Promising Strategies An OJP Issues and Practices Report

Problem-Oriented policing gives officers the opportunity to think creatively to find solutions to persistent crime problems within a community. According to Problem-Oriented Drug Enforcement:  A Community-Based Approach for Effective Policing, "Problems are defined as something that concerns or causes harm to citizens, not just the police.  Responding to a problem means more than providing a quick fix; it means dealing with the underlying conditions that create the problem." Problem-oriented police are trained to uncover patterns of crime, identify solutions and find the resources necessary to address the problems. This type of focus encourages looking less at crime statistics and more at broader questions, such as why is so much crime happening in a location or what is its impact on people and the environment. Therefore, in traditional policing, the number of arrests made at a drug location might measure success. However, success in the problem-oriented strategy is measured as shutting down the drug operation. Problem-oriented policing and community policing often are connected to one another, although problem-oriented policing can be implemented without the resources necessary for community policing. An example is when policing strategies are comprehensive and adjusted so police officers can focus on the underlying causes of crime instead of the crime itself

(Adapted from Promising Strategies to Reduce Substance Abuse - An Office of Justice Programs Issues and Practices Report, September 2000, p. 54, U.S. Department of Justice,



The more accurately police can identify and minimize causes of specific crime patterns, the less crime will exist.

(Excerpted from A Report to the United States Congress, prepared for the National Institute of Justice, Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn't, What's Promising, Lawrence Sherman,, Chapter 8 Policing for Crime Prevention, 1998,

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Mario's Market, Delray Beach, Florida

In Delray Beach, Florida, two community police officers recognized that Mario's Market, a local convenience store, was generating a substantial number of service calls and criminal activity in the area. Utilizing a problem-oriented policing approach, the officers examined the store and the surrounding area to identify the factors contributing to illegal activity. Contributing factors included the layout of the property (the market was open on all sides, and a T-shaped alley in the back provided easy entry and escape for buyers and sellers of drugs), poor lighting and a drug house located behind the store.  Upon completion of the assessment, the two officers invited other officers on their beat, the chief of police, the local fire chief, the property owners and supervisors from other public agencies to a meeting to discuss possible solutions to the problem.  The officers presented an itemized list of their goals and the kind of assistance they needed to accomplish them.  They already had received community cooperation by meeting with community leaders early in the process.

The officers employed a wide variety of tactics to solve the problem. They started a nuisance abatement case against the owners of the drug house, and the dealers were eventually evicted. A chain-link fence was installed to deter people from entering and exiting the alley. The officers installed a fake-video surveillance camera, donated by a local television repair company, and received help from probationers on community service detail to make delineated parking spaces in the parking lot. These clearly marked spaces eliminated the drive-through nature of the drug market.

(Adapted from
Promising Strategies to Reduce Substance Abuse An Office of Justice Programs Issues and Practices Report, September 2000, p. 57,U.S. Department of Justice,

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> Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn't, What's Promising

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Free To Grow is a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.