Can More Police Reduce Street Crimes?
Police play an important role in our daily lives and often we don’t acknowledge their importance on the streets as they stop the crime before it gets to us. Police are capable of preventing robbery, violence, sexual harassment, disorder by working in an efficient way. The common perception that exists in our mind set is that as we will increase the police on the streets there will be an automatic decrease in crime. The reason why this perception exists is that we think on the surface without digging deeper to the roots of this issue. Having more police would reduce the crime on the streets is an assumption made without taking other factors into consideration. Another important point to be noted down is that the number of police hired and the number actually present on the street vary to a great extent. The reason why having more police wouldn’t necessarily reduce crime is that efficiency is more important than increasing the number, the techniques used by police play an important part as well.
Hiring more police, being put on unspecified random patrols, will not cause a decrease in crime. However, when the efficiency maximizes that’s when we will see a visible change in the rate of crime in a certain area. Rather than increasing the number of hired police men, the main focus should be on the specialization of their jobs. Once their objective is specified, and they are aware of their targeted area, people, their specific task that is which kind of crime they have to deal with; once their job is narrowed down and much more manageable they will be more efficient as opposed to hiring more police men without specializing their jobs.
According to Sherman “directed patrols, proactive arrests and problem-solving at high-crime ‘hot spots’ has shown substantial evidence of crime prevention”. This statement shows that specifying the jobs of police men and identifying the crime hotspots and then adjusting the patrols according to that leads to a decrease in crime. Another reason why increasing the number of police is certainly not the answer to reducing crime is because; there is a certain number to which they can be managed and supervised effectively and after that hiring more will lead to problems within the police department. It’s better to have a manageable number of police men and have them work efficiently rather than having a lot and not getting enough done.
Moreover, in addition to efficient work approach the techniques used by police also play an important part in reducing the crime rates. The digital revolution has lead to massive change in the ways the police departments are run today. The use of digital equipment is much more efficient and economical rather than increasing the number of police. Humans can never be as accurate as the machines, no matter how many more police men you hire they can never match up to the level of accuracy and time efficiency of a machine. It makes much more sense to spend the funds on upgrading the technology to reduce crimes rather than increasing the number of police men. ‘CompStat ‘is a technique which is comprised of management tool and geographical data- driven analysis.
It was developed in 1980s and it has lead to decrease in crime rates since then. As Chettiar mentions; “We analyzed crime data from the 50 largest cities. Forty-one currently use some form of CompStat. We find that the introduction of CompStat is associated with a roughly 10 percent decrease in crime (this could vary from 5 to 15 percent). In other words, crime is about 10 percent lower in a city that uses a program like CompStat than in an otherwise identical city without it”. This experiment clearly shows that the use of technology and the decrease in crime rates are closely linked and affect each other.
Another important way to reduce crime is finding the root causes of crime in a society and dealing with those. If a country totally ignores the root causes of crime and keep hiring more police men the crime would never be reduced. Most crimes are caused by these common risk factors such as unemployment, poverty, high taxes, and influence of violence in video games and movies. In order to reduce crime in the long run government should spend money on crime prevention initiatives rather than blindly spending on employing more police men to reduce crime. “It is proven that activities such as organised after-school programmes have a positive impact on reducing crime.
In the United States, a four-year programme which provided after-school activities, including peer tutoring, homework assistance and community services, resulted in a 71 per cent drop in arrests” (UN, 2000). These initiatives to reduce crime and efficiency of police department go hand in hand. As Teeters mentions: “Such a multi-agency approach to crime prevention does not call for a reduction in existing functions of the criminal justice system, but rather seeks to re-engineer the roles of the Courts and the police in tackling crime and delinquent behaviour at its roots.”
However, on the other hand it is possible that increasing the number of police will reduce the crime but that is only possible under certain circumstances. If the police are managed more effectively it can reduce crime. In New York City increased police in the 1990s reduced the crime rate by 5 percent. As Chettiar says that; “ A body of empirical research has found that simply having more officers on the streets, even if they are not arresting or stopping anyone, can be a crime deterrent.” But, in some situations it’s not that simple to hire more police men, budget becomes the main obstacle.
The number of police men depends on a community’s will. If the community does agree to pay higher taxes only then more police men could be employed. And, there is a general trend that in developing and under-developed countries the crime rates are higher so in those countries people will not be willing to pay more taxes anyway. Thus, even though is some cases increasing the police could reduce crime but efficiency and other factors are more important.
To conclude, in my opinion, the most important factor in reducing the crime rates in any community would be finding the root causes of the crime. This is because if the root cause is not identified and more police are being hired to reduce the crime, the crime rates might reduce temporarily but in the long run, crime is embedded in the core of a society and it will start to emerge again sooner or later. However, tackling the root causes of crime cannot solely reduce crime in an area; the police will have to do its job efficiently with improving its techniques to deal with crimes. Increasing the number of police to reduce crime is a very basic level solution and when thought on a deeper level with other factors this solution solely fails to solve the issue of crime.
An area could increase the police men without having the knowledge of root causes, low efficiency of the police due to poor supervision and have no latest technology rather than decrease the crime rates may actually go up due to poor analysis of the police department. Thus, for the countries facing the increasing levels of crime, their main focus should be on finding the root cause of the crime in their specific country combined with the high efficiency of police men and latest technology. If the country is unable to afford the latest technology local schemes to reduce crime, educating people would also play an important role in reducing crime rates.
Chettiar, Inimai. “More Police, Managed More Effectively, Really Can Reduce Crime.” The Atlantic. Feb 11. 2015. Web. 23 October 2016 <www.theatlantic.com>
Sherman, Lawrence. Policing for Crime Prevention
Teeters, N.K. “Fundamentals of Crime Prevention”. Federal Probation 59.3 (1995): 68-63. Web.
—. United Nations (UN) (2000) Tenth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders: Preventing Crime and Cutting its Costs,www.un.org/events/10thcongress/2088c.htm#top.
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