Broken Windows Policing

One school of thought among those who study crime as a behavioral science is that if the area in which one lives is left to deteriorate, then the inhabitants of that area will thrive on criminal behavior as a means of survival and control. This generalization can be used to support the theory of broken windows. The concept of broken windows was first explained by James Q. Wilson and George Kelling (1982). In their original article, they wrote that the police should focus their efforts on targeting specific criminal behavior that leads to the deterioration of the geographical area in question. The intent of the police in removing or covering up graffiti, fixing broken windows in buildings (or making sure they are fixed), and discouraging panhandlers and prostitutes from freely loitering on streets is to prevent more serious crime from happening (Wilson and Kelling, 1982).

From an analytical perspective, mapping hot spot areas of specific types of crime—such as prostitution, petty street-corner crimes, and narcotics activity—can help to identify significant temporal and spatial factors. Once these factors are identified and analyzed and the data are disseminated to law enforcement, they can be used to support tactical planning that is intended to target those specific areas while addressing those specific crimes.

Problem-Oriented Policing

While the factors surrounding the three forms of policing just discussed focused primarily on attention to a wide range of issues associated with crime and criminal behavior, problem-oriented policing shifts its focus to the identification of a specific issue that directly leads to crime. The idea is that the police take a proactive role in identifying, understanding, and responding to problems, not just incidents (Goldstein, 2001).

Problem-oriented policing relies on the scanning, analysis, response, and assessment (SARA) model approach, as discussed in Chapter 1, to derive strategies for responding most effectively to the problem behavior.

From the analysts’perspective, the use of SARA can lead to identifying and examining the cause of the problem. Problem-oriented policing methods lead to discovering new and more effective strategies for dealing with crime problems. They place a high value on new responses that are preventive in nature; that are not dependent on the use of the criminal justice system; and that engage other public agencies, the community, and the private sector when their involvement has the potential for significantly contributing to the reduction of the problem. The main idea is to aid in building a body of knowledge that supports the further professionalization of the police while directing attention to the central issue(s) that created the problem. Analysis can help in the development of a strategic plan that may be used to address, and eventually resolve, the main issue and assist in preemptive enforcement intended to reduce further incidents stemming from the original problem.

Intelligence-Led Policing

As we go into more detail later in this book, you will see that while crime analysis is a valuable tool in the day-to-day “statistical” mindset of law enforcement, intelligence supplies the data from which analysis is drawn. From the perspective of real-time tactical analysts, data mining from multiple intelligence sources is the main task in obtaining data and intelligence. As you may have already gathered, throughout this book the words data and intelligence will carry the same meaning and be virtually interchangeable. Technically, the word intelligence, when used as a noun in military or government work, has traditionally referred to information gained from the enemy. However, in this book and writing from the perspective of the crime analyst, the word intelligence will refer to information (data) that is gathered to advance the work of the analyst.

With this out of the way, intelligence-led policing relies heavily on the gathering, sharing, assessment, and dissemination of information (intelligence) used to aid in strategic planning and proactive enforcement measures.

While intelligence-led policing incorporates many of the ideologies found with other methods of policing, such as community policing and problem-oriented policing, it walks a fine constitutional line with how it collects and disseminates intelligence (Guidetti and Martinelli, 2009). The implementation of intelligence-led policing is meant to anticipate crime trends and proactively create prevention strategies while at the same time respecting citizens’ privacy rights. According to these authors, intelligence-led policing is a conceptual framework of conducting policing as

a business model and an information-organizing process that allows police agencies to better understand their crime problems and take measure of the resources available to be able to decide on an enforcement tactic or prevention strategy best designed to control crime.

(Guidetti and Martinelli, 2009, p. 1)

From the crime analysts perspective, the intelligence gathered should be deemed sound and reliable, and it should be used to develop strategies intended to address specific problems.

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