Reviews of the best evidence on "what works" in policing to reduce crime have found that visible police patrol can reduce crime, but only if it is precisely focused in crime hotspots (high crime areas). Otherwise, increased police visibility may actually lead to more crime by giving criminals a reason to stay out of sight. For example, one study found that adding hundreds of officers to New York City's Central Park dramatically increased crime rates during the daytime, although it reduced mugging and burglary after nightfall when people are less likely to be home alone (Broidy 2005).
Studies also show that investing in technology can help law enforcement better detect and solve crimes.
In conclusion, police visibility can reduce crime by making victims feel safer and by giving criminals good reasons not to victimize them. Increased technology can help officers detect and solve crimes.
When police personnel identify particular problems, attempt to understand them, and devise a targeted plan to fix them, crime can be reduced. Finally, focusing police resources on high-rate criminals (either to get them off the street or to reduce crime) is supported by strong data. This approach has been shown to be effective in reducing crime.
It is difficult for police to prevent crimes from happening, but they can take measures to reduce the likelihood of certain crimes being committed. For example, by putting up warning signs about crime rates in areas where people use drugs, police can try to reduce the number of drug-related deaths. They can also work to stop people from using drugs in the first place by educating them about the risks involved with addiction and providing treatment if necessary. Police can also work to keep communities safe by conducting traffic patrols to ensure drivers are obeying the law and acting as deterrents to criminal activity.
Crime prevention is not just for cops. Anyone who lives in an area that experiences crime problems should do everything they can to help prevent further incidents by reporting suspicious activities to police or other authorities, and working to maintain a clean and safe environment by taking care of trash and keeping homes and vehicles secure.
Leading criminologists have already been persuaded by existing research that some forms of proactive police, such as components of hot spot policing, may reduce crime, particularly in the short term and in specified locations. These findings have led some police departments around the country to adopt community policing practices that include proactive enforcement.
However, other experts caution that more research is needed on this issue before any definitive conclusions can be drawn. It is also important to note that not all forms of proactive policing reduce crime; some studies have shown that these programs can actually increase crime by creating a climate of fear in local communities.
Proactive policing involves officers conducting patrols in high-crime areas or at times when crimes are expected to be committed (e.g., late at night), taking steps to prevent or resolve problems before they occur, and identifying potential criminals through surveillance techniques such as gang reporting programs. This approach aims to reduce crime by removing offenders from the community early in their criminal careers and by preventing them from committing further offenses.
Studies have shown that certain types of proactive policing, such as community policing and hot spot policing, can reduce crime by providing a visible presence of law enforcement and increasing public confidence.
To summarize, the greatest thing the police can do to minimize crime is to target resources based on an understanding of the problem while also ensuring equitable treatment of all persons with whom they come into touch.
Hot spot police techniques concentrate on specific geographic regions or locations, typically in metropolitan areas, where crime is concentrated. As a consequence, hot spot policing has been shown to reduce crime while avoiding displacement. It is based on the idea that crimes are not randomly distributed but tend to occur in certain places and times of day. By focusing resources on these areas at certain times, arrests can be made without wasting efforts on other areas not being used by criminals.
Crime tends to follow a circadian rhythm, with incidents of violence and property crime more common between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., and reports of criminal activity falling off dramatically after sunset. By focusing patrols on high-crime areas during these hours, officers can significantly cut down on crime while also making an impact on public safety resources. This approach is called "hot spotting" because it focuses patrols on locations that appear to be active centers of criminality.
Police departments across the country have found this technique effective in reducing crime while also keeping communities safe. It is believed that hot spots are most effective when they cover small geographical areas so that officers can quickly respond to calls for help.
In addition to being located in high-crime neighborhoods, hot spots often have a particular architectural style (such as single-story apartments) that makes them easier for officers to see and intercept suspects.