Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Planning and Evaluating the Response

In terms of the SARA model, this guide emphasizes the scanning (collecting information) and analysis process. The response and the assessment (evaluation) of the response will be unique to each park and local community.

The detailed audit and the interviews, focus groups, or surveys obtain valuable information that you should provide to the local community, potential offenders, and other stakeholders. If information is power, then targeted communication is the key to crime reduction in urban parks. Law enforcement is just one tool police use to let potential offenders know that police will no longer ignore or tolerate certain targeted behaviors. The three-part goal is to:

  • Reduce or eliminate crime and antisocial behavior in parks
  • Encourage everyone to use parks legally and to respect other users' rights
  • Encourage the local community to take ownership of the park, to provide natural guardians to manage conflicts, and to involve formal controls, when appropriate.

The evaluation needs to assess all three dimensions. A reduction in recorded criminal and antisocial incidents is only one part of the evaluation. Is there also evidence of a change in the way people are using the park, so that legitimate use is dominant? Is there evidence of increased optional and social use of the park? Is there evidence that the local community is actively ensuring that there is less crime and disorder in the park?

Direct observation and interviews, focus groups, and community surveys should provide documentation of the community change. Appendix A lists key questions that will help in the evaluation and that may also suggest future activities to maintain the improvements.