Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses

The table below summarizes the responses to cruising, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

General Considerations for an Effective Strategy
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
1 Enlisting community support Establishes joint ownership of the problem, while educating the public …there is sufficient police knowledge of, and public interest in, the problem Partnerships offer the best approach for addressing problems over time
2 Establishing alternative activities for youth Removes some of the motivation for cruising, directing youth attention away from the streets …a long-term goal of establishing teen clubs or centers is set, and local businesses contribute It sends a message that youth are important and community amenities are accessible to all
3 Promoting other uses of the cruising area Discourages cruisers, as they have to compete for space and attention …foot traffic increases, cruise areas are used for special events, and businesses stay open later There may be legal challenges if public space is seriously restricted or people are charged admission to enter public areas
Specific Responses to Problems of Cruising
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
4 Enacting and enforcing cruising ordinances Deters cruisers through the threat of fines or other penalties …a large number of officers are deployed in the cruising area, and they enforce the ordinances in conjunction with other, related ordinances Cruising ordinances are generally less vulnerable to legal challenges if the city posts warning signs in cruising areas and police first give cruisers a written warning; they can be expensive to enforce
5 Enforcing trespassing and loitering laws Reduces opportunities for onlookers to watch cruising, thereby reducing a main incentive for it …police obtain judicial cooperation, so that enforcement actions have a significant impact Enforcing trespassing laws on private property requires owners’ consent; loitering laws are subject to legal challenges
6 Restricting parking Limits the size of the crowds watching the cruising …parking is restricted on both public streets and private parking lots near the cruising area New parking ordinances may be required
7 Enforcing laws that restrict juveniles’ driving privileges Reduces the number of juveniles cruising, thereby reducing their risk of offending and being victimized …the laws prohibit youths from driving at night and limit the number of passengers they can have Stiffer penalties might include license revocation if underage drivers are convicted of any drinking-related offense; it requires a strong police commitment to enforce the laws
8 Regulating and redirecting traffic Discourages cruisers from driving in cruising areas, and prevents conversation and antagonism between vehicle occupants …police also enforce related ordinances It may require special legal authorization
9 Increasing street lighting Reduces the risk of traffic crashes, gives victims a better opportunity to identify offenders, and increases the public’s sense of security …a qualified lighting designer and city planners determine types and locations of lighting It may be costly to implement and bothersome to surrounding residents
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
10 Sanctioning cruising in alternative locations Moves cruising to areas where it is less likely to interfere with other activities, and where police can more easily monitor and control it …all or most cruisers are willing to use the alternative locations Local governments may be liable for harms occurring at officially sanctioned locations; police must still be present to monitor cruising; extra amenities may be required if the locations are deemed public spaces
11 Enforcing juvenile curfews Reduces the number of juveniles cruising, thereby reducing their risk of offending and being victimized …there is widespread public support for curfew enforcement Curfews are commonly politically controversial and subject to legal challenge; police enforcement may be labor-intensive
12 Increasing police patrols Deters cruisers through increased police presence and enforcement …a special detail of officers (e.g., a traffic unit) is deployed at peak cruising times It is costly and reduces the number of officers available for other tasks
13 Sentencing offenders to community service Deters offenders …community service activities address cruising-related harms It could gain widespread business and citizen support, and promote positive police-youth relations, depending on whether police administer the program in a positive manner
14 Setting up sobriety and vehicle inspection checkpoints Discourages cruising, and removes intoxicated drivers and unsafe vehicles from the cruising area …the checkpoints do not contribute to traffic congestion and confusion They are labor- intensive and costly