9 Ideas from Research on Improving Police Efforts to Control Crime

Preventing crime, securing public safety in fair and lawful ways, and building public confidence and trust in the police, should be core missions of law enforcement in democratic societies. To achieve these missions, the police use a variety of tactics, including responding to calls for service, conducting generalized and directed patrol, performing investigations and making arrests, proactively targeting problems, engaging the community, and employing an assortment of technologies and analyses. Given their breadth, prioritizing these diverse tactics and establishing policies on the circumstances of their use is not easy. Sensitivity to the political, economic, and social climate in which law enforcement operates is required. Still another crucial ingredient is research and science. Indeed, “getting it right” requires that research and science have seats at the law enforcement decision-making table. Decades of research provide invaluable information for devising successful strategies to prevent crime and disorder and to advance citizen confidence and trust in the police. The following nine points are a short list of best practices on crime control and prevention for law enforcement executives based on what is known from research.