Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Understanding Your Local Problem

The information provided above is only a generalized description of day laborers and the circumstances of their existence. You must combine the basic facts with a more specific understanding of your local problem. Analyzing the local problem carefully will help you design a more effective response strategy.

Stakeholders

In addition to criminal justice agencies, the following groups have an interest in the disorder at day laborer sites problem and ought to be considered for the contribution they might make to gathering information about the problem and responding to it:

  • area residents;
  • area businesses;
  • local government agencies (e.g., employment relations, public works, traffic engineering, city or county attorney, and community and economic development);
  • state government labor/employment relations agencies;
  • religious and charitable organizations serving the day laborer population;
  • immigrant and human rights groups;
  • employers of day laborers such as contractors and landscaping companies;
  • area building and landscaping supply companies; and
  • day laborers themselves.

Asking the Right Questions

The following are some critical questions you should ask in analyzing your particular day laborer-site problem, even if the answers are not always readily available. Your answers to these and other questions will help you choose the most appropriate set of responses later on.

Day Laborers

  • What do you know about the day laborers (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, immigration status, language ability, criminal history, residence)?
  • How do employers treat day laborers?
  • Are citizens victimizing day laborers?
  • How committed are day laborers to using a particular day laborer site?
  • How committed are day laborers to day laboring?

Employers

  • What do you know about those who employ day laborers (e.g., type of work, contractor, private citizen, company)?
  • How committed are employers to using day labor?
  • How committed are employers to hiring day laborers at the current location?
  • What problems have employers had in using day laborers?

Merchants and Community Members

  • How concerned about day labor sites are merchants and community members?
  • What are their complaints about day laborers or about the sites?
  • What actions, if any, have they taken in response to problems at day labor sites?

Locations/Times

  • Where are day labor sites located? What makes the sites attractive?
  • Which day labor sites have routine problems? Which do not? Why?
  • When do problems at day labor sites occur?
  • Which area merchants do the day-labor sites harm?
  • Which area merchants benefit from the day labor sites?
  • How do the day labor sites appear (e.g., trash and/or graffiti present)?
  • How long have the day labor sites been there?
  • Are the day labor sites located in safe or in high-crime areas?
  • What are the vehicle and pedestrian traffic conditions at the day labor sites?

Human Smuggling Links

  • Are day labor sites located near residences where large numbers of laborers live?
  • Do day laborers owe money to smugglers?

Current Responses

  • What is the police department’s current policy in dealing with problems associated with day laborer sites?
  • What is the police department’s current policy in dealing with illegal immigrants?
  • What responses do police officers use regarding problems associated with day laborers, other than arrest and prosecution? Are any especially effective?
  • What are community and church groups doing in regard to day laborers and/or immigrants?

Measuring Your Effectiveness

Measurement allows you to determine to what degree your efforts have succeeded, and suggests how you might modify your responses if they are not producing the intended results. You should take measures of your problem before you implement responses, to determine how serious the problem is, and after you implement them, to determine whether they have been effective. You should take all measures in both the target area and the surrounding area. (For more-detailed guidance on measuring effectiveness, see the companion guide to this series, Assessing Responses to Problems: An Introductory Guide for Police Problem-Solvers.)

The following are potentially useful measures of the effectiveness of responses to problems associated with day laborers:

  • reduced number of citizen complaints about day laborers;
  • reduced reports of violence;
  • reduced reports of robberies;
  • reduced traffic congestion around day laborer sites;
  • less evidence of trash and litter;
  • fewer injuries among day laborers;
  • fewer observations of drug and alcohol use; and
  • improved perceptions of order among area merchants and residents.