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Problem-Solving: Problem-Oriented Policing in Newport News

NCJ Number
J E Eck; W Spelman
Date Published
136 pages
This assessment of the Problem-Oriented Policing Project in Newport News, Va., tested whether officers throughout a police agency could apply problemsolving techniques as part of their daily routine and whether such problemsolving efforts are effective.
Current police practice is primarily incident-driven, which aims at resolving individual incidents rather than groups of incidents or problems. Problem-oriented policing, on the other hand, aims at solving persistent community problems by identifying, analyzing, and responding to the underlying circumstances that create incidents. The Newport News Police Department, a moderate-sized agency, was selected by the National Institute of Justice to serve as a pilot test of problem-oriented policing. A departmental task force designed a four-stage problemsolving process which involved all members of the department in problem-oriented policing. A problem analysis guide was used by officers to develop responses designed to produce measurable outcomes. Three problemsolving efforts have advanced far enough to permit judgments on their effectiveness. Burglaries in an apartment complex were reduced 35 percent, and robberies in the central business district were reduced by 40 percent. Thefts from vehicles in the parking lot of Newport News Shipbuilding were reduced 55 percent. The findings indicate that problem-oriented policing can be successful, and it deserves further experimentation. 12 tables, 5 figures, and 143 references.