Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses

The table below summarizes the responses to disorderly youth in public places, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they should 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.

Creating Alternative Legitimate Places and Activities for Youth
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
1 Creating new places for youth to congregate, and providing alternative activities Removes excuses for youth to hang out and be disorderly in public, for lack of anything else to do …there are few or no alternative legitimate activities for youth in the area Police can support creating alternative places and activities, but should be careful not to become solely responsible for running those places and activities
2 Providing outreach services to youth Identifies more serious problems of some youth, such as substance abuse, child abuse, mental illness, etc. …the young people causing the problems are suspected to have more serious individual problems and needs Requires resource commitments from professionals outside of the police department
3 Employing youth at businesses negatively affected by disorderly behavior Promotes a greater sense of responsibility among youth for maintaining order in those places

…there is viable employment in the area, and young people have skills that match employers' needs

Business owners must be willing to employ youth
4 Ensuring youth have adequate transportation to and from events Removes excuses for youth to be on the street before and after events …existing transportation is inadequate May require additional expenditures from public transportation companies
Modifying Public Places to Discourage Disorderly Behavior
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
5 Encouraging youth to gather where they will not disturb others Separates youth from likely complainants …there are viable alternative places for youth to gather in the area May require negotiation because police may not be able to force youth to move; may require place managers' or property owners' cooperation to allow youth to congregate
6 Avoiding locating businesses that attract youth where others will be intimidated by them Separates youth from likely complainants …there are alternative sites for the youth- oriented businesses Requires the cooperation of people such as mall managers; youth oriented businesses may object to being moved away from the main flow of consumers
7 Reducing the comfort level, convenience or attraction of popular youth gathering places Discourages youth from congregating in a particular place …the changes are not unduly burdensome on legitimate users of the place May require additional expenditures to redesign the place; may discourage legitimate uses of the place; may displace youth to a more problematic location
8 Installing and monitoring closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras Increases the ability of police or private security to detect disorder and respond quickly; increases the likelihood that offenders can be identified later; discourages youth from engaging in disorderly behavior in view of the camera …police or private security has the resources to monitor CCTV Cameras must be protected from vandalism; monitoring is labor intensive; evaluations of CCTV show mixed effectiveness; some communities object to public CCTV on privacy grounds
Establishing and Enforcing Rules of Conduct for Youth
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
9 Enlisting others to exercise informal social control over youth Provides help from others in controlling youth …youth value their relationship with those seeking to exercise informal social control over them Police must be careful not to support draconian or abusive forms of punishment
10 Establishing clear rules of conduct, and educating youth about them Clarifies what conduct is and is not acceptable; removes excuses for unacceptable behavior …rules are simple, fair and clearly conveyed Rules must not violate youths' constitutional rights; if youth perceive rules to be unfair, it may exacerbate tension and mistrust between youth and authorities, including police
11 Mediating conflicts between youth and complainants Helps youth and complainants better understand one another's concerns and perspectives …youth and complainants are willing to listen to one another, and conflicts are relatively minor Requires mediation skills; may not be a valid response if offenses are serious
12 Denying youths' anonymity Makes youth realize they can be held accountable for their actions …the same individuals return to the problem location, and the same police or security officers handle the problem Compulsory identification and photographing of offenders must comply with applicable laws and policies
13 Deploying police paraprofessionals to patrol public places where youth congregate Increases the level of surveillance of public places; imposes supervision on youth that is not as threatening to them as police supervision might be …paraprofessionals are authorized by local law to patrol in public and are properly trained to handle youth disorder Neither the police nor the general public may support paraprofessionals
14 Enforcing truancy laws Removes excuses for youth to be on the street during school hours …there is a place where police can bring truants and quickly return to service, there are meaningful truancy interventions by schools, and likely complainants are educated about truancy laws and how to recognize and report truants Requires support and resource commitments from school officials and other juvenile authorities
15 Enforcing curfew laws Removes excuses for youth to be on the street at night, thereby reducing opportunities for them to offend and be victimized …the general public supports curfew enforcement, and youth disorder occurs at night Potential legal challenges to curfew laws and enforcement thereof; without public support, the police will appear heavy-handed and youth will be perceived as victims
16 Banning troublemakers from private property Removes the worst offenders from places where they disturb others …private security and police maintain accurate records of banned people's identities and the time periods for which those people are banned Potential legal challenges to banning that may depend on whether the property is deemed private or quasi-public
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
17 Increasing patrol by uniformed police officers     Labor-intensive and only temporarily effective
18 Strictly enforcing laws against youth     Labor-intensive as a long-term strategy; police risk losing public support by appearing heavy-handed