Field Test Proposal Problem Oriented Policing


FieldTest Proposal: Problem Oriented Policing

FieldTest Proposal: Problem Oriented Policing

Therapid increase in crime at the global level has motivated thestakeholders to develop numerous strategies to contain the trend, butthese strategies vary in the degree of effectiveness. The problemoriented policing approach was developed by Herman Goldstein, aprofessor at the University of Wisconsin (Center for Problem OrientedPolicing, 2015). The problem oriented policing approach is founded onthe assumption that the process of developing a policing strategyshould be informed by an effective identification followed ananalysis of specific types of crime as well as the social disorder.This is paper contains a literature review of the problem orientedpolicing approach and it focuses on the effectiveness of the approachand the use of research and evaluation in problem oriented policing.


Problemoriented policing

Effectivenessof problem oriented policing in reducing disorder and crime

Reducingcrime and maintaining order in the society is among the keyobjectives of any policing strategy. A systematic review conducted byWeisburd, Telep, Hinkle &amp Eck (2010) focused on evaluating whatthe researchers have found with regard to the effectiveness ofproblem oriented policing in containing crime and restoring order.This meta-analysis of ten empirical studies revealed that there exista statistically significant association between a problem orientedpolicing strategy and a decline in crime and an improvement in thesocial order (Weisburd et al., 2010). The ten empirical studiesanalyzed by Weisburd et al. (2010) indicated that the use of problemoriented policing strategies reduced major crimes (such as propertycrime, violent crime, and firearm-related homicides) and activitiesthat lead to social disorder, including drug dealing andprostitution. Therefore, problem oriented policing can help the lawenforcement agencies contain a wide range of crimes affecting thesociety.

Theuse of problem oriented policing at the officer and the departmentlevels

Thebasic principles of the problem oriented policing can be applied inpolicing activities, even without acknowledging the strategyofficially. A qualitative study conducted by Rubenser (2005)investigated the differences and effectiveness of implementing theproblem oriented policing strategies at the officer level and at thedepartmental level in the City of Omaha. The cross-sectional studyrevealed that a successful implementation of the problem orientedpolicing strategies at the departmental level and officer levelrequires the support of the top management and stepwiseimplementation. The findings pointed out that the problem orientedpolicing mechanism is effective for long-term security issues asopposed to short-term crimes (Rubenser, 2005). Therefore, problemoriented policing strategies can be implemented by individualofficers or police departments that are facing long-term securityissues.

Effectivenessof POP strategies in controlling crime among the youths

Althoughcrimes are classified into similar categories, it is evident thatthere are some types of crime that are more prevent in certaingeneration that in others. For example, homicide is more prevalentamong the youths than in other generations in the major cities of theU.S. (Braga, Kennedy &amp Piehl, 2001). A case study conducted byBraga, Kennedy &amp Piehl (2001) evaluated the effectiveness of aBoston Problem oriented policing strategy tagged “OperationCeasefire” in controlling crimes (such as homicide and violence)that are conducted by youths in the city of Boston. The case studyrevealed that POP strategy was effective in containing crimes thatare perpetrated by youths compared to any other strategies. This wasconfirmed by a comparative decline in cases of homicide in Bostoncompared with other cities in the U.S. (Braga, Kennedy &amp Piehl,2001). The effeteness of POP strategies is based on the fact that itallows law enforcement agencies to identify weaknesses within thesecurity system and design untraditional approaches to contain crime.

Useof POP strategies to enhance order and reduce among members of thesociety

Theworld law enforcement agencies have invested heavily in developinginnovations that can help the contain crimes that have beenescalating with time. A systematic review conducted by Weisburd &ampEck (2004) compared the effectiveness of four major innovations andstrategies that have been developed and tested in the U.S. inmaintaining order and make communities feel safe. The studyidentified that strategies that involve the use of coercive force arethe least effective in helping people feel safe. The host-policingstrategy reduces major crimes, especially the violent types of crime,but it does not maintain order or make communities feel safe. Thecommunity-based strategy makes people feel safe in the short-term,but it has a limited impact on crime deterrence and order in thesociety (Weisburd &amp Eck, 2004). The study identified that it isonly the problem oriented approaches that have managed to controlcrime, enhance order, and make people feel safe. This implies thatthe problem oriented policing approach is the most effectiveinnovation at the moment.

Roleof leadership in effectiveness of POP approaches

Asuccessful implementation of programs is often influenced by thequality of leadership. Mazerolle, Darroch &amp White (2013) used aninterrupted time series framework to assess the impact oftransformational leadership in the success of implementation of a POPstrategy. The researchers identified that a POP program that isspearheaded by an effective leader results in successful reduction incrime. The study is significant because it established therelationship between transformational leadership and implementationof the POP program.

Researchand evaluation within the justice system

Importanceof research in reducing the cost of policing

Thecost of policing is among the major challenges that limit thecapacity of modern law enforcement agencies to contain crime.However, the findings reported by Bueermann (2012) indicated thatevidenced-based policing, which involves the use of strategies thatare founded on scientific research can help in reducing the cost ofpolicing. This is because strategies that are based on research aremore effective and yield better results compared to trial and errorapproaches that waste resources without guaranteeing results.Therefore, modern law enforcement agencies should embark on researchas one of the key strategies of containing the escalating cost ofpolicing.

Evidence-basedpolicing may be ineffective

Althoughthe majority of the stakeholders supports the use of research whendesigning security strategies and evaluating the effectiveness ofexisting ones, some find reliance on research to be a waste of time.According to a literature review conducted by Besharov (2006)researchers provide contradicting findings and conclude theirresearch by stating that their studies did not provide conclusiveevidence, which means that research does not always provide viablesolutions. In addition, some research works used to evaluate theeffectiveness different programs do give reasonable explanations fortheir findings in order to aid the future researchers. For example, astudy that evaluated the effectiveness the Operation Ceasefire inBoston indicated that the program reduced homicide, but it did notindicate the exact mechanism behind the program (Besharov, 2006).Research may be an effective way of designing and evaluating policingprograms, but it should not be the only factor considered.

Challengesthat result from research in justice and evaluation

Manystakeholders in the law enforcement sector believe in theeffectiveness of evidence-based policing strategies, but they facesome challenges that limit their ability to rely on research. Forexample, a receptivity survey conducted by Lum, Telep, &amp Koper(2012) indicated that translating research into facts that can be putinto practice is quite difficult and reduce receptivity of researchfindings by the key decision makers in the law enforcement sector.However, the authors concluded that the current culture and negativeperception against evidence-based policing can be prevented by usingevidence-based policing matrix and institutionalizing the applicationof research-based evidence into daily policing activities. This meansthat making research to be the key guiding factor in decision makingcan help the stakeholders address the challenge of receptivity ofevidence-based strategies.

Impactof resources availability on research and evaluation

Althoughthe stakeholders in the law enforcement sector understand the rolethat research can play in enhancing their efficiency, they allocateinadequate resources in research oriented activities. According toGoldstein (2003) allocation of limited resources to research andevaluation functions deny the security sector the opportunity toreceive a new body of knowledge that would have helped thestakeholder address the pressing challenges more effectively. Some ofthe key impediments to research include the lack of long-termcommitment, lack of research and evaluation skills within the lawenforcement sector, the lack of a suitable academic connection, andinadequate financial support (Goldstein, 2003). Therefore, researchand evaluation of policing strategies are limited by the availabilityof resources and a connection to competent researchers.

Theuse of evidence-based policing to tract policing strategies

Research-basedpolicing strategies indicate what works and what has failed inpolicing. A literature review conducted by Sherman (2013) identifieda trend in which police and their leaders are continually combiningtheory and assumptions with research findings to develop policingstrategies and test their effectiveness. The authors also identifiedthat research enhances democratic policing, efficiency in reducingcrime, and reduces the cost of policing. Therefore, research is thebest way forward in the development of security solutions, testing ofthe proposed policing strategies, and evaluation of the effectivenessof strategies that have been implemented.


Problemoriented policing programs have gained popularity following theiremphasis on the significance of analyzing crimes before developinguntraditional strategies to contain crime and maintain order in thesociety. Studies have shown that problem oriented policing approachescan be used to address a wide range of long-term crimes and they canbe implemented at the officer or at the departmental level. Althoughproblem oriented policing is perceived to be the most effectiveinnovation, its successful implementation requires the presence oftransformational leaders in the sector. The use of the findings ofempirical research to develop policing strategies saves on the costof policing because they limit the use of trial and error. Empiricalevidence may also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of thepolicing strategies. Although research has been shown to make apositive contribution towards the process of developing andevaluating policing strategies, some scholars feel that policy makersshould continue combining research with theory and assumptions,instead of seeing research as the only factor that guide decisionmaking in matters of security.


Besharov,J. (2006). Aiming for evidence-based gun policy. Journalof Policy Analysis and Management,25 (3), 691-735.

Braga,A., Kennedy, M. &amp Piehl, A. (2001). Problem oriented policing,deterrence, and youth violence: An evaluation of Boston’s operationceasefire. Journalof Research in Crime and Delinquency,38 (3), 195-225.

Bueermann,C. (2012). Being smart on crime with evidence-based policing. NIJJournal,269, 12-14.

Centerfor Problem Oriented Policing (2015). What is POP.? CPOP.Retrieved October 31, 2015, from

Goldstein,H. (2003). On further developing problem-oriented policing: The mostcritical need, the major impediments, and proposal. CrimePrevention Studies,15, 13-47.

Lum,C., Telep, W., &amp Koper, W. (2012). Receptivity to research inpolicing. JusticeResearch and Policy,14 (1), 61-95.

Mazerolle,L., Darroch, S., &amp White, G. (2013). Leadership in problemoriented policing. Aninternational Journal of Police Strategies and Management,36 (3), 543-560.

Sherman,W. (2013). Therise of evidence based policing: Targeting, testing, and tracking.Chicago, IL: University of Chicago.

Rubenser,L. (2005). Unofficial use of problem oriented policing: An analysisat the department and individual officer level. TheSouthwest Journal of Criminal Justice,2 (1), 23-41.

Weisburd,D., Telep, W., Hinkle, C., &amp Eck, E. (2010). Is problem-orientedpolicing effective in reducing crime and disorder? Criminologyand Public Policy,9 (1), 139-171.

Weisburd,D. &amp Eck, E. (2004). What can police do to reduce crime,disorder, and fear? Annals,593, 42-65.