There is much controversy surrounding different police tactics used across the United States and their effectiveness, particularly stop-and-frisk. A new report published by the National Academy of Sciences, Medicine and Engineering looks at proactive policing methods and evaluates the pros and cons of each.
Proactive policing refers to the use of proactive response methods to reduce crime and is different from a proactive decision made by police officers in specific situations. Before the implementation of proactive policing, police departments typically operated by reacting to crimes after they occurred. In the 1980s and 1990s, emphasis shifted to the police taking more initiative to prevent crime and target its underlying causes.
The lead author of the report, a criminologist at George Mason University, worked with a panel of 15 experts that included lawyers, statisticians, other criminologists and former police chiefs. The current president of the Police Foundation, and a co-author of the report, expressed optimism that police departments would be open to using the results of their analysis of research on popular proactive policing strategies.
The report aimed to assess not only the impact of proactive policing strategies on crime, but the reaction of the communities where the strategies are implemented. The authors of the report stressed that little long-term evidence is available for analysis, and that more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of proactive policing.
Several proactive policing strategies were found to have an overall positive effect, including the following:
The research panel hopes the results of the analysis will be used by police departments across the U.S. to choose evidence-based strategies that can serve their communities best. Proactive policing can be both effective on crime reduction and supported by the citizens served by the police.
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