What works and what doesn’t: helping the police to find the best strategy

According to what was published by the Rand corporation, the so-called focused deterrent is not new, as it was initiated by the Boston police force in the mid-90s by the pioneering Operation Cessos, which was aimed at chronic violent offenders and involved activities to help to reduce the city’s murder rate.As part of the focused deterrent, the police intervened high-risk groups and individuals in order to prevent future violence.

Key strategic steps of the focused deterrent

1Identify high-risk criminals, a process that involves community leaders and frontline police officers.
2 Have a communication meeting; explain why the intervention is taking place; and involving social services, families and members of the community.
3Provide services for those who wish to change their behaviour.
4Provide support for community members.
5 Creationof rapid and proportional sanctions for those who continue to be involved in violent crime.

In the United States there are over 18,000 police agencies. There is no database nor a sole objective source that shows what works better and how to apply it.

Bearing in mind that evidence shows that the focused deterrent is successful, why isn’t it used in more police departments?

This is when the RAND Tool Guide Better Policing is introduced. It is designed to help police agencies to find and learn about effective police strategies and apply them.

The set of tools could be a valuable resource for the police in a climate involving police strategies being more necessary than ever.

Feedback of the strategies

The set of tools specifies three very effective surveillance strategies. The first focused deterrent helps those with a high risk of participating in violence; the second, the police service aimed at problem solving, which addresses problems taking place in specific places; and the third, surveillance of legitimacy, is centred on community trust. The tool kit is also linked to a previous guide from the Department of Justice that describes the best practices to resolve homicides and other serious crimes.

The most effective police strategies in the Better Policing tool kit:

Focused deterrent
Intervene high-risk people and groups

Problem oriented policing
Address crimes in risky places

Legitimacy policy
Focus on relations with the community and elicit trust


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