PREVENTION, DETERRENCE, AND REDUCTION STRATEGIES from the Exemplary Policing Agency by Michael Josephson


Exemplary Standard II(E). Prevention, Deterrence, and Reduction Strategies. An exemplary agency protects and serves the community through scientific-based, state-of-the-art crime prevention and reduction strategies, including community policing and problem-oriented programs, surveillance, patrolling, targeted deployment, investigation, data collection, and other strategies and tactics to meet overall community and individual neighborhood objectives.


II(E)1. Knowledgeable Leadership. Leadership ensures that command officers and others regularly engaged in overall strategic planning maintain a high level of knowledge of traditional and emerging crime prevention strategies including programs evaluated by the National Institute of Justice.[1]

Maintaining expertise is also discussed as an aspect of Professionalization, one of the five qualities of an exemplary organizational structure, but it’s important to emphasize that crime prevention strategies are continually evolving. Many of these strategies have been studied by researcher and responsible leaders committed to excellence assure that the agency’s command officers stay current with the research and constantly seek best practices information to improve performance.

II(E)2. Surveillance. An exemplary agency increases the communities sense of security and detects and deters crimes by providing strategically deployed visible neighborhood and event presence and works.

Effective surveillance techniques enhance the community’s sense of security and deter criminal conduct. A major function of the agency to provide strategically deployed visible patrol presence on the streets and at major events and gatherings. These patrols not only discourage unlawful activity they provide an opportunity for peace officers to monitor activities in public view and detect potential criminal behavior. Though the policing agency generally lacks the authority and resources to acquire and install cameras or lighting that increase surveillance, policing agencies should work with individuals, citizen groups and other agencies to install lighting and cameras in public places and roads.

II(E)3. Environmental Devices. An exemplary agency employs proven crime prevention strategies, including the intelligent use of environmental and physical devices such as locks, emergency phones, fences, bushes and other barriers.

Exemplary agencies employ current and proven crime prevention strategies incorporating basic deterrence theory[2]  and the intelligent use of environmental and physical devices such as locks, emergency phones, lighting, cameras, fences, bushes and other landscaping and other barriers.[3]

II(E)4. Field Detentions and Traffic Stops. An exemplary agency employs constitutionally authorized, respectful, fair and impartial crime detection and deterring strategies involving stopping, detaining, interrogating, and where appropriate, searching or frisking suspicious persons on the street or in moving vehicles.[4]

Though street and traffic stops are controversial because of actual instances and wide perception that they are used improperly as a result of racial profiling or that such stops, especially traffic stops, are used as a pretext to conduct otherwise unlawful searches. Exemplary agencies ensure that their officers know the law well and are trained and disciplined to properly employ this technique.  If this power is abused, or even if it appears to be misused, the agency’s credibility and legitimacy will be badly damaged.

Officers are authorized and expected to respectfully and equitably stop and interrogate suspicious persons and vehicles when they have reasonable articulable grounds to believe that a crime has or is about to be committed and, if they have an additional reasonable belief that a subject is armed and dangerous, they may and should conduct a surface pat down (i.e., frisk) of a person or a search of a vehicle for weapons accessible to the persons interrogated.

II(E)5. Data Driven Policing Strategies. An exemplary agency employs a wide range of community policing and problem-oriented strategies including use of localized mapping data identifying crime and crash “hotspots” in formulating strategic objectives and the tactical deployment of resources.

One of the most potent and prevalent crime fighting strategies is the to the use of timely and accurate localized data collection technologies to “map” or identify specific high incidence locations for both criminal conduct and traffic collisions.  An Exemplary Policing Agency collects and uses such data to guide its strategic law enforcement decisions and formulate tactical deployment of resources to prevent and reduce crime.[5]

II(E)6. Public Education. An exemplary agency employs a robust community education strategy, including promotion of and guidance in establishing neighborhood watch programs and providing crime prevention and avoidance techniques in both live presentations and on its website.

 There are many things that citizens and organizations can do to help policing agencies detect, prevent and deter crime including organized neighborhood watch programs, installation of crime deterring devices such as lights, fences, barriers and cameras. In addition, citizens can take precautions to reduce assaults, car thefts and home invasions. An Exemplary Policing Agency utilizes its communication resources, including websites, social media and public education presentations to inform citizens and support community efforts.

[1] identifies effective and promising crime prevention programs.;. See also” MRSC Local Government Success, Crime Prevention” and “PREVENTING CRIME: WHAT WORKS, WHAT DOESN’T, WHAT’S PROMISING? A REPORT TO THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS” Prepared for the National Institute of Justice by Lawrence W. Sherman Denise Gottfredson, Doris MacKenzie, John Eck, Peter Reuter, Shawn Bushway, in collaboration with members of the Graduate Program Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland.

[2] Exemplary Policing Agencies employ a full complement of deterrence strategies as summarized in “Focused Deterrence Strategies” by the National Institute of Justice,

[3]  The San Diego Police department has adopted a concept called “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) based on a set of four design and usage concepts that can lead to a reduction in the incidence and fear of crime, and an improvement in the quality of life: surveillance, access control, maintenance and territoriality fully described at “Surveillance involves the use of electrical and mechanical devices, and the location of physical features, activities, and people to provide good visibility in the environment. Creates a risk of detection for offenders and a perception of safety for legitimate users. Access control employs electrical and mechanical devices, people, and natural measures to create a perception of risk to offenders and deny them access to targets. Also guides legitimate users safely through the environment. Territoriality uses physical features and signs to define ownership and control activities in the environment. Delineates spaces with limited or no public access. Maintenance allows the continued use of spaces for their intended purposes. Maintains the effectiveness of measures employed for surveillance, access control, and territoriality.”

[4] The agency ensures that all officers know the law and understand community expectations are trained and disciplined to properly employ this technique mindful that real or perceived abused, including racial profiling could badly damage the agency’s credibility and legitimacy.

[5] Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety by James H. Burch II, Acting Director, Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.; and Michael N. Geraci, Director, Office of Safety Programs, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C. The Police Chief, vol. LXXVI, no. 8, July 2009.

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