Public Safety Involves More Than Having Officers Respond to Crime, Chief Says

More than 500 police experts from around the globe gathered Monday at the Disneyland Hotel to share success stories and new strategies for engaging the public in the fight against crime.

Chief Welter POP

Chief Welter addresses the conference crowd

“We all need to be ready to make the case for public safety being more than just having officers respond to crime,” said Anaheim Police Chief John Welter at the 20th annual “Problem-Oriented Policing Conference.” “In the long run, a problem solving strategy is so much more effective and financially efficient.”

The conference features three days of seminars from top law enforcement officials and criminal justice academics.

Coined by University of Wisconsin professor Herman Goldstein, Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) emphasizes research, analysis, prevention and the participation of public and private organizations.

“Most of our private sector partners require just a little help and direction,” Welter said. “But we all need to lead that effort by providing accurate and convincing crime information… and then following up with concrete examples of what community members can do – and how they can do it.”

David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay University in New York, noted several simple ways police can deter repeat offenders. One involves more honest and direct communication.

“If all you do is tell them (how to avoid prison) – you get huge changes in behavior,” he said, adding, “no sane human being wants to go to prison.”

Kennedy also encouraged police to think beyond the traditional criminal justice system – to informal social controls – in developing deterrence strategies.

An effective technique involves family member participation.David Kennedy's "Deterrence and Crime Prevention"

“Most offenders harbor real doubts about what they are doing,” he said. “When they don’t care – get the people around them to care.”

To illustrate the power of the strategy, he asked: “When you were a kid, how many of you were afraid of police officers?”

Only a few hands went up.

“How many were afraid of your mother?”

Most hands went up.

Most offenders still listen to their mothers, friends or other influencers, he said.

“Just find the pressure points wherever you can,” he said.

Later this week, the Herman Goldstein Award will be given to a police agency that exhibited innovation and effective use of POP techniques to resolve a community problem. Anaheim PD was a finalist for the award in 2007 for its effort in cleaning up The Boogie! nightclub. To read APD’s submission, click here

For more about the conference or POP strategies, visit the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing’s Web site here and download one of its many innovative guides.

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