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Crime Prevention and Police Patrol - Are They Compatible?

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 48 Issue: 8 Dated: (August 1981) Pages: 60-67
J H Auten
Date Published
8 pages
This article discusses the police role in crime prevention from a historical perspective, argues that traditional patrol no longer constitutes an effective crime deterrent, and proposes proactive techniques for the suppression and repression of crime by police.
Traditionally, patrol officers are thought to be preventing crime whenever they are not answering calls for service, but their patroling has never been effective in preventing crime just beyond the immediate presence of the officer. The essential elements of preventive patrol have not changed since the 1800's. These elements consist of an assigned beat, the highly visible uniform, random patrolling, and the initiative of the patrolling officer to perform tasks he deems necessary. While the outward symbols of authority no longer command respect, the initiative of individuals is thwarted in the paramilitary police organization. A proactive response must be developed that constitutes a better way to conduct patrol operations; attainable goals must be established and resources and latitude must be given to operational and supervisory level officers to exercise initiative in doing their job. The proactive philosophy assumes that crime prevention is not attainable through the use of preventive patrol and that the primary emphasis of patrol should be on suppression and repression of crime. Split-force operations, directed patrol, field interviews and interrogations, decoy operations, surveillance and stake-outs, unmarked patrol vehicles, plainclothes patrols, location-oriented patrol, perpetrator-oriented patrol, selective saturation and frequent vehicle stops are recommended proactive tactics. Advantages of the proactive approach include the maximum use of available resources; increased job satisfaction, morale, and efficiency; and decreased crime in the community. The bibliography contains 13 entries.