It is the hypothesis of this article that Crime Prevention while a good start has less to do with understanding the crime and crime trends themselves than with the cohesiveness of all the working parts. Let’s take a look.
Crime Prevention has been so the topic of conversation in today’s policing that most modern police departments have some kind of unit under that name.
Tasked with new student and staff orientations, building surveys, a safety class or two and a campus safety walk these Crime Prevention Units provide a missing link in the public safety formula, public awareness. The uptick in certain types of crime would lead us to believe that maybe Crime Prevention as an isolated strategy isn’t enough.
Although public awareness is a brilliant first step, it can’t end there. There are so many other aspects that are relevant to the prevention of crime beyond presentations and walks and beyond public awareness.
This gives way to a new term Crime Preemption. Crime Preemption speaks to the other tangibles and intangibles which contribute directly to the readiness of the public safety team and consequently to the integrity of the mission. Think of it this way. Before crime can be effectively prevented so many other things have to be in place.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of those aspects.
This is one of the most vital because of the odds that the public safety team of any jurisdiction is up against. Think of it. The average police to public ratio is 1.8 officers to 1000 residents. Police don’t only need a solid group of informants they need partners that will invest time, energy and resources into solving the issues at hand. The reality is that unless all sides involved do their part it is impossible to resolve any issue.
Think of it this way. Every square inch or mile of a jurisdiction has the potential of being a crime scene. Everybody in it will undoubtedly one day be a witness, victim or perpetrator. Regardless of what role the people find themselves in their level of cooperation with the necessary police action and subsequent investigation will rest almost solely on the pre-established relationship that exists between them and the police officer.
Don’t you think that an officer that is happy to be at work will tend to be more proactive and more productive on their shift? Departments need to incorporate morale building in their Crime Preemption plans because it is a critical part of the public safety mission. The level of strife an officer is willing to endure from the community and negative leadership, the level of commitment to the mission and the retention rate are all linked to the morale of the officer.
Towards this Command must find ways of investing in the professional and personal lives of their subordinates. Think of it this way. Do one sided relationships ever work? Does it make sense for the department to expect the officer to devote their talent, passion and drive into the vision of the department if the department in turn is not investing in the wellbeing of the officer?
The type of officer that an agency attracts and is able to keep will define the quality of service that it is capable of providing. A department can’t expect to have a proactive team if the individuals that are being selected don’t hold themselves to a professional standard. Recruiters in a sense are the first line of defense that a department has as far as who is allowed to be on the public safety team.
With a mission as delicate as the one that public safety is burdened with having quality people to rely on to carry out all of its moving parts is paramount.
The leadership that guides the successful completion of the mission is critical and must be selected carefully. When the rank and file cannot relate to the supervisor and feels ignored and unappreciated by them the mission will suffer. When the rank and file perceives that people that don’t care about them or the agencies well-being are promoted and given raises that sends a powerful negative message up and down the ranks.
When the hard and selfless workers are carrying most of the weight of duty only to see those that don’t seem to contribute to any aspect of the mission get promoted this will hurt the productivity, morale and retention rate of the agency.
An agency must be careful to put people in supervisory and command positions that care about people, that understand the value of motivation and who invest in the people that they have been delegated to manage on a daily basis. Just as importantly, only people who are willing to contribute to that which needs to be done, on a day to day basis should be allowed to join the ranks of supervision and management.
The threats that are being faced are getting more complex as technology advances and people deploy more creative tactics. The level of training that is held at a basic standard level is going to have a direct effect on the capacity that the officer has to effectively neutralize the threats that present themselves on any given day. Departments that train their personnel for the possible will always have an edge over agencies that only train their officers for the likely. If officers are only allowed to train in the “purview of their assignment” the necessary overlap between units will not exist for a cohesive effort to occur.
The public is counting on how well departments allow their personnel to train. The best customer service that a department can offer is a better trained officer.
So we see how before an agency can effectively prevent crime, they must preempt it or (seek to get ahead of it) through: building partnerships, investing in the morale of their employees, creating a solid recruiting philosophy that attracts and retains the best, a promotion strategy where only the caring and genuinely interested personnel are in charge and a solid training standard that will make every officer a valuable partner to the public safety effort.
Before any crime trend or act can be thwarted or prevented there must preemptively be a community that knows how to recognize it, that understands their role in it, that understands how to report it as well as a competent well-trained police force that is well oiled by good leadership, in a good enough spirit to legitimately care and that is guided by solid practices.
The preventing of crime as we are seeing is not only about the crime itself, teaching the public how to recognize it and how to minimize it in any given area. Until the other aspects are acknowledged as critical moving parts in the Crime Preemption spectrum crime will always be that undesired activity that we will forever chase in circles.
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