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Crime problems in public housing sites have a reputation for being more intractable than problems in other high crime places. High-rise public housing sites typically are located in poor neighborhoods with high crime rates (Collins et al. 1998; Skogan and Annan 1994 129–30). Residents generally are older and poor; the non-elderly residents are disproportionately single with children and are unemployed. Skogan and Annan (1994) suggest that "residents often lack the capacity to defend themselves, be it against predators, gangs looking for revenge, or drug dealers engaged in turf wars or intimidation" (1994:130; also see Popkin et al. 1997). Many policy makers believe that only hard-core policing tactics (e.g., arrests, sweeps) such as those which characterize the "War on Drugs" can reduce the significant crime in public housing sites. Program evaluators report very few interventions that seem to make a lasting change.

Our evaluation of a problem-oriented policing program implemented in six of the most crime-ridden public housing sites in Jersey City challenges the notion that public housing sites are the last bastion of program resistance. Our research shows that different types of tactics and large quantities of problem-oriented policing activities, performed collectively by site teams comprising police, public housing officers, and social service liaison officers, can significantly reduce serious crime. We found that reductions in calls for service for serious crime could be attributed to the number of problem-oriented policing activities implemented in a site. This was particularly true of the site teams at Gladstone and at Brighton.

We also found that social structural factors such as percentage unemployed, percentage receiving TANF, and percentage single-headed households did not exhibit strong relationships to the changes over time in calls for service. Our two most successful sites— Brighton and Gladstone—were quite different in social and physical structure.

Our research has several important methodological and policy implications, and we offer some general insights into the growing literature on problem-oriented and community-oriented policing. The problem-oriented policing program implemented in the Jersey City public housing sites comprised a wide array of responses: CPTED (e.g., lighting), situational crime prevention (e.g., pay phones accommodating outgoing calls only), civil remedies (e.g., evictions and special leaseholder provisions), traditional policing (e.g., sweeps, arrests,


surveillances), treatment (e.g., drug treatment and alcohol counseling), and informal social control (e.g., the stability of CSOs assigned to individual housing sites). We found that at Gladstone and Brighton, where the level of problem-oriented policing activity predicted the level of crime, more police-initiated strategies were implemented than at those sites which relied more heavily on public housing or social service responses. This is not to say that traditional policing tactics are more effective, but that the coercive authority of the police in a problem-oriented policing program is important for bringing about change (also see Green 1996). Therefore, we conclude that sworn officers must take an active, high-profile role in problem solving on a team in order to cause change.

Finally, our research offers some important measurement and methodological insights. We systematically measured the process of problem-oriented policing and carefully integrated process analysis with our impact assessment. We documented the extent of scanning, we examined the types of analysis conducted on a defined problem, we measured the quantity and quality of problem-solving responses, and we recorded efforts to assess the impact of problem-oriented policing tactics. This careful attention to the process analysis was integral to understanding how problem-oriented policing programs succeed (or flounder) in public housing sites. Moreover, by using a mixed model we were able to distinguish the relative influences of problem-oriented policing activities across the six sites in our study. This method provided us with an innovative approach to comparing and contrasting the factors that constrain or enhance the control of crime in public housing sites.


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Article Summary & Analysis

Problem Oriented Policing is a strategy to address a specific crime problem within a neighborhood or community, and a direct response by law enforcement to gain trust and cooperation between neighborhood or community residents in order to work together to solve the crime problem. The strategy involves a local response to crime, with open communication and a concerted effort by all those impacted by the crime problem to find effective solutions. With citizens working together with local law enforcement, solidarity can be achieved with neighbors looking out for each other and the community as a whole.

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This article reports on the Problem Oriented Policing (POP) strategy used in Jersey City, New Jersey, in an effort to reduce the amount of serious crime occurring at six public housing sites. The Jersey City Police Department and the Jersey City Housing Authority, along with tenants of the six housing sites, created teams to work together using the POP model, in an effort to reduce drug and violent crime. The teams worked during a one-year intervention phase (May 1995–May 1996). Each team was responsible for identifying areas of consistent serious crime, reporting the POP measures taken within these areas, and evaluating the effectiveness of those measures (Mazerolle, Ready, Terrill, & Waring, 2000).

The authors evaluated three questions: 1) what was the effect of the POP program on serious crime both across and within the housing sites? 2) what types of problem-solving responses were effective in reducing serious crime? and 3) were there differences in the effectiveness of POP across different categories of crime? The evaluation was based on the assumption that public housing sites are different, and that a POP strategy should include a mix of carefully selected responses that incorporate those differences (Mazerolle, et al., 2000).

The evaluation included an assessment of POP activities undertaken by the site teams, with progress being measured every two weeks. During the evaluation period, 602 POP activities were assigned, with 364 being completed, 144 ongoing throughout the year, and 94 abandoned or forgotten. Citizen calls for police service were also evaluated for a two-and-a-half year period, which included the evaluation period. The purpose of evaluating the calls for service was to determine whether the POP strategies and activities occurring at each of the housing sites resulted in more citizens willing to contact police in regard to criminal activity. The calls for service were evaluated across sites (comparing the six sites) as well as within the sites, which included an analysis of the various types of calls (i.e., what crime was being alleged by the caller in what area of the housing site) (Mazerolle, et al., 2000).

The results indicate that calls for service were positively related to the number of POP activities occurring at the housing site. In other words, as the number of POP activities increased at a site, the number of calls for service for serious crime increased. In addition, the results showed that different POP strategies and large amounts of POP activities significantly reduced serious crime in the housing sites (Mazerolle, et al., 2000).

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. What makes the Problem Oriented Policing model work in this type of environment?
  2. What could the police officers working within these public housing sites do to provide better communication and services to the residents?
  3. Do you think the approach taken in these six housing sites could be used in other similar residential areas in other parts of the county? Why or why not?
  4. How does the Problem Oriented Policing model work to create a just society, or in this case, increase social networking among residents and police officers?
  5. If you were a police officer working in a public housing site, would you use the Problem Oriented Policing model as described in the article? Why or why not?

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10.2 Example of How a Trial or Appellate Court Is Used to Create a More Just Society

Shaffer, D. K., Hartman, J. L., and Listwan, S. J. (2009). Drug abusing women in the community: The impact of drug court involvement on recidivism. Journal of Drug Issues, 39(4), 803–827. Reproduced with permission of copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Drug Abusing Women in the Community

Section 10.2 Example of How a Trial or Appellate Court Is Used to Create a More Just Society

Robinson, D. M., & Landrum, R. E. (2013). Social and criminal justice: A capstone. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
In a critical analysis of the article, complete the following:
  • Provide the formal APA citation of the source.
  • Summarize the article’s thesis and main points in one or two paragraphs, at maximum.
  • Critically evaluate the relevance of the data used to support the thesis of the article.
  • Evaluate the significance of the sources, including whether they are primary or secondary sources.
  • Provide examples of either the presence of bias or lack of bias evidenced by the authors.
  • Critique (as defined in Chapter 5) the accuracy, acceptability, strengths and weaknesses, and overall soundness of the article. In your critique, consider whether or not the authors persuaded you with their viewpoints.
  • Using source “treeing,” as described in Chapter 4.1 of your text, find two related scholarly articles and explain how the articles you found could be used to support or contradict the premise and findings of the article being critiqued.

The paper must be three to four pages in length, excluding title and reference pages, and formatted according to APA style. You must use at least three scholarly sources, which includes the article you are reviewing, two articles that support or contradict the initial article, and any other sources that support your analysis. Cite your sources within the text of your paper and on the reference page. For information regarding APA, including samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center, located within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar.

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