2018 POP Conference
November 5–7, 2018
Providence, Rhode Island

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About This Guide

About the Smart Policing Initiative Problem-Oriented Policing Guides

In 2013 the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) funded CNA to work with the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing to develop a series of Smart Policing Initiative (SPI) Problem-Oriented Guides for Police. The purpose of these guides is to provide the law enforcement community with useful guidance, knowledge, and best practices related to key problem-oriented policing and Smart Policing principles and practices. These guides add to the existing collection of Problem-Oriented Guides for Police.

SPI is a BJA-sponsored initiative that supports police agencies by helping them develop and implement practices that are informed by research conducted in partnership with external researchers. Smart Policing is a strategic approach that brings more science into police operations by leveraging innovative applications of analysis, technology, and evidence-based practices. The goal of SPI is to improve policing performance and effectiveness while containing costs, an important consideration in today’s fiscal environment.

SPI is a collaborative effort between BJA, CNA (SPI training and technical assistance provider), and local law enforcement agencies that are testing innovative and evidence-based solutions to serious crime problems.

For more information about the Smart Policing Initiative, visit www.smartpolicinginitiative.com.

About the Response Guides Series

About The Response Guides

The Response Guides are one of three series of the Problem- Oriented Guides for Police. The other two are the Problem- Specific Guides and the Problem-Solving Tools Guides.

The Problem-Oriented Guides for Police summarize knowledge about how police can reduce the harm caused by specific crime and disorder problems. They are guides to preventing problems and improving overall incident response, not to investigating offenses or handling specific incidents. Neither do they cover all of the technical details about how to implement specific responses. The guides are written for police—of whatever rank or assignment—who must address the specific problems the guides cover. The guides will be most useful to officers who:

  • Understand basic problem-oriented policing principles and methods
  • Can look at problems in depth
  • Are willing to consider new ways of doing police business
  • Understand the value and the limits of research knowledge
  • Are willing to work with other community and government agencies to find effective solutions to problems

The Response Guides are intended to be used differently from the Problem-Specific Guides. Ideally, police should begin all strategic decision-making by first analyzing the specific crime and disorder problems they are confronting and then use the analysis results to devise particular responses. But certain responses are so commonly considered and have such potential to help address a range of specific crime and disorder problems that it makes sense for police to learn more about what results they might expect from them.

Readers are cautioned that the Response Guides are designed to supplement problem analysis, not to replace it. Police should analyze all crime and disorder problems in their local context before implementing responses. Even if research knowledge suggests that a particular response has proved effective elsewhere, that does not mean the response will be effective everywhere. Local factors matter a lot in choosing which responses to use.

Research and practice have further demonstrated that, in most cases, the most effective overall approach to a problem is one that incorporates several different responses. So a single response guide is unlikely to provide you with sufficient information on which to base a coherent plan for addressing crime and disorder problems. Some combinations of responses work better than others. Thus, how effective a particular response is depends partly on what other responses police use to address the problem.

These guides emphasize effectiveness and fairness as the main considerations police should take into account in choosing responses, but recognize that they are not the only considerations. Police use particular responses for reasons other than, or in addition to, whether or not they will work, and whether or not they are deemed fair. Community attitudes and values, and the personalities of key decision-makers, sometimes mandate different approaches to addressing crime and disorder problems. Some communities and individuals prefer enforcement-oriented responses, whereas others prefer collaborative, community-oriented, or harm-reduction approaches. These guides will not necessarily alter those preferences, but are intended to better inform them.

These guides have drawn on research findings and police practices in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia. Even though laws, customs, and police practices vary from country to country, police everywhere experience common problems. In an increasingly interconnected world, it is important that police be aware of research and successful practices beyond the borders of their own countries.

Each guide is informed by a thorough review of the research literature and reported police practice, and each guide is anonymously peer-reviewed by a line police officer, a police executive, and a researcher prior to publication. CNA, which solicits the reviews, independently manages the process.

For more information about problem-oriented policing, visit the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing online at www.popcenter.org. This website offers free online access to:

  • The Problem-Specific Guides series
  • The companion Response Guides and Problem-Solving Tools Guides series
  • Special publications on crime analysis and on policing terrorism
  • Instructional information about problem-oriented policing and related topics
  • An interactive problem-oriented policing training exercise
  • An interactive Problem Analysis Module
  • Online access to important police research and practices
  • Information about problem-oriented policing conferences and award programs