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Crime and Policing

NCJ Number
M H Moore; R C Trojanowicz; G L Kelling
Date Published
This article examines what is known about serious crime: what it is, where and how it occurs, and points of intervention.
Police tactics, such as response to calls for service and retrospective investigation of crimes, have been criticized for being reactive rather than proactive. The concept of serious crime is necesarily a social judgment, not an individual one. The usual view of serious crime emphasizes three characteristics of offenses, and (3) the relationship between offenders and victims. Society's view of serious crime as predatory street crime contains subtle bias such as downplaying crime committed in the context of ongoing relationships. This view also tends to obscure the importance of fear as a separate aspect of the crime problem, introduces potential for injustice and ineffectiveness in targeting police attention, and underplays crimes taht have symbolic significance. Most American households have first or second-hand experience with serious crime. Criminal victimization is disproportionately concentrated among minority and poor populations in the United States. Four precipitating causes of crime relevant to policing are: (1) dangerous people, (2) criminogenic situations, (3) alcohol and drug use, and (4) frustrating relationships. The limitations of the reactive approach to serious crimes, such as ineffectiveness of preventive patrol, suggests that development in the proactive approach is necessary. This involves use of directed patrol and decoys, and development of special units. More emphasis on community involvement and precipitating causes of crime is needed. New approaches that can lead to enhanced crime control include enhanced police presence, increased access to information, and crime prevention activities. 59 notes.