Problem-oriented policing is an alternative approach to crime reduction that challenges police officers to understand the underlying situations and dynamics that give rise to recurring crime problems and to develop appropriate responses to address these underlying conditions.
Problem-oriented policing is often given operational structure through the well-known SARA model that includes a series of iterative steps: Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment.
Police officers often find it difficult to implement problem oriented policing properly with deficiencies existing in all stages of the process.
The existing evaluation evidence shows that problem-oriented policing generates noteworthy crime and disorder reduction impacts.
Most problem-oriented policing research and practical experience, however, has focused on applying the approach to addressing crime and disorder problems.
As such, this research paper examines our existing knowledge base on police use of the problem-oriented approach to tackle recurring crime and disorder problems.Herman Goldstein (1990) suggests that the definition of problems be at the street-level of analysis and not be restricted by preconceived typologies. The analysis phase challenges police officers to analyze the causes of problems behind a string of crime incidents or substantive community concern.Goldstein further clarifies what is meant by a problem by specifying the term as: “a cluster of similar, related, or recurring incidents rather than a single incident; a substantive community concern; or a unit of police business” (1990, p. Once the underlying conditions that give rise to crime problems are known, police officers develop and implement appropriate responses.Skogan and Frydl 2004) that was characterized by rigorous professional standards, militaristic organizational structures, the use of technology, and other important historical reforms.Under this model, police departments attempted to prevent serious crimes by advancing three operational strategies: preventive patrol, rapid response, and investigation of more serious cases by specialized detective units.The SARA model consists of these stages: Scanningthe identification of an issue and determining whether it is a problem; Analysisdata collection on the problem to determine its scope, nature, and causes; Responseinformation from the analysis is used to design an appropriate response which can involve other agencies outside the normal police arena; and Assessment the response is evaluated and these results can be used to re-examine the problem and change responses or maintain positive conditions (Eck and Spelman 1987).In practice, it is important to recognize that the development and implementation of problem-oriented responses do not always follow the linear, distinct steps of the SARA model (Capowich and Roehl 1994; Braga 2008).In dealing with crime, these departments were aimed at resolving individual incidents instead of addressing recurring crime problems (Eck and Spelman 1987).Officers responded to repeated calls and never looked for the underlying conditions that may be causing like groups of incidents.Using a basic iterative approach of problem identification, analysis, response, assessment, and adjustment of the response, this adaptable and dynamic analytic approach provides an appropriate framework to uncover the complex mechanisms at play in crime problems and to develop tailor-made interventions to address the underlying conditions that cause crime problems (Eck and Spelman 1987; Goldstein 1990).Since the publication of Goldstein’s article, many police departments have experimented with the approach and the available evaluation evidence suggests that problem-oriented policing is a fundamentally sound approach to controlling crime and disorder problems (Skogan and Frydl 2004; Braga 2008; Weisburd et al. Beginning in the 1940s and continuing through the emergence of community policing, police departments followed what many have come to call the “standard” or “professional” model of policing (see e.g.