Questions for Discussion

  • 1. Think of a crime problem or crime trend in your community. How could you apply the SARA model to that trend or problem?
  • 2. Why does routine activities theory make sense as an operating system for strategic crime analysts?

Important Terms

Compound problem report'. Gives information and recommendations about the highest-level problems that strategic crime analysts face, crime problems or crime trends that usually encompass various locations, offenders, and victims.

Crimeproblems: Usually refers to multiple crime or disorder incidents with common causal factors.

Crime trends: Long-term increases and decreases in crime, or simply changes in the characteristics of a crime over a period of time. Crime trends can occur over months, years, decades, or even centuries. Often, crime trends have numerous obscure and indirect social, environmental, economic, or political causes.

Field research: Observing the characteristics of various crime locations or immersion in a setting where crime occurs so as to better understand the what, how, when, and where of the social structure or action and interaction of a neighborhood, a group, or victims.

Focus groups: Sometimes referred to as group interviews, focus groups are guided conversations in which an analyst meets with a collection of similarly situated, but usually unrelated persons for purposes of uncovering information about a topic.

Identifying problems report: Report that details information related to the systematic identification of long-term problems, such as the locations of problem areas, specific offenders known to be suspects in crime problems or crime trends, victims of crime problems, and property involved in crime trends or problems.

Interviews: Typically structured conversations that researchers have with individuals to learn more about crime problems or crime trends.

Problem analysis triangle: Also known as the crime triangle, the problem analysis triangle comes from one of the main theories of environmental criminology—routine activities theory. This theory states that predatory crime occurs when a likely offender and suitable target come together in time and place, without a capable guardian present. The problem analysis triangle is a graphic description of routine activities theory.

Problem-oriented policing: Professor Herman Goldstein first described the problem-oriented approach to policing in a 1979 article, which he expanded upon later in his 1990 book, Problem-Oriented Policing.

Qualitative research: Qualitative research methods, as opposed to quantitative research, provide more emphasis on interpretation and usually look at contexts, the environment, and the people involved in a crime problem.

Quantitative research: Usually involves statistics and data that can be scored and presented easily on graphs or in tables.

Routine activities theory: Developed by Cohen and Felson, a theory that seeks to explain the occurrence of crime events as the confluence of four circumstances: a motivated offender; a desirable target; the target and the offender being in the same place at the same time; and intimate handlers, guardians, or place managers being absent or ineffective.

SARA model: In the SARA model, the strategic crime analyst will collect the data, define the scope of the problem-solving effort, find an effective response, and set up the project so that it can be evaluated and the police can learn from the results.

Strategic crime analysis: Analysis of data in order to develop longterm strategies, policies, and prevention techniques. In contrast, tactical crime analysis deals more often with short-term and current crime problems.

Surveys: Survey research involves the collection of information from a sample of individuals through their responses to questions, which may be submitted through the mail or email, by telephone, or in person.

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