Hot-spot Tactics: Are They Effective?
Most cops know that if you want to be a good peace officer, you need to get out of your vehicle and interact with the public. It is intuitive … or is it?
It has long been assumed that a proactive response in police work creates positive results. This has been the mantra of research related to community-policing techniques for decades. Officers have been told over and over about the value of getting out of their cars and interacting with the public.
The problem with this is the “hug-a-thug” negative mentality often associated with community policing. In other words, little gets talked about when it comes to the value of getting out of your car and doing your job. Is there any value in performing proactive law enforcement duties such as arresting people, writing citations or conducting field interviews?
According to one study recently completed in St. Louis, Mo., the answer is yes. The researchers did an experiment designed to assess the effectiveness of different hot-spot tactics (i.e., directed patrol and self-initiated enforcement) on firearm violence and robberies.
In the study, researchers identified hot spots (geographic locations with the highest amount and concentration of firearm violence and robberies). We all have them in our jurisdictions. The one area of town where we respond to violence and crime repeatedly.
They then set up two strategies to patrol these areas. The first strategy was using directed patrol (officers slowly patrol areas, but not using self-initiated activities unless a crime was occurring or someone was in danger). The second strategy was having officers in the area perform self-initiated patrol activities (arrests, pedestrian checks, vehicle checks, building checks, etc.).
What they found was that hot-spot areas receiving self-initiated enforcement experienced a significant reduction in firearm-assault rates. However, no differences were found on firearm-robbery rates.
Thus, when dealing with hot spots of high violence associated with firearms use, you and your agencies should determine if it is in your community’s best interest to take a more proactive stance and initiate law enforcement tactics in these areas verses simply providing police presence and answering calls for service.
Be Safe and Check Your Six!