Herman Goldstein (1990) suggests that the definition of problems be at the street-level of analysis and not be restricted by preconceived typologies. The analysis phase challenges police officers to analyze the causes of problems behind a string of crime incidents or substantive community concern.
Goldstein further clarifies what is meant by a problem by specifying the term as: “a cluster of similar, related, or recurring incidents rather than a single incident; a substantive community concern; or a unit of police business” (1990, p. Once the underlying conditions that give rise to crime problems are known, police officers develop and implement appropriate responses.
Problem-oriented policing is now a common police crime prevention and control strategy.
Problem-oriented policing seeks to identify the underlying causes of crime problems and to frame appropriate responses using a wide variety of innovative approaches (Goldstein 1979).
Using a basic iterative approach of problem identification, analysis, response, assessment, and adjustment of the response, this adaptable and dynamic analytic approach provides an appropriate framework to uncover the complex mechanisms at play in crime problems and to develop tailor-made interventions to address the underlying conditions that cause crime problems (Eck and Spelman 1987; Goldstein 1990).
Since the publication of Goldstein’s article, many police departments have experimented with the approach and the available evaluation evidence suggests that problem-oriented policing is a fundamentally sound approach to controlling crime and disorder problems (Skogan and Frydl 2004; Braga 2008; Weisburd et al. Beginning in the 1940s and continuing through the emergence of community policing, police departments followed what many have come to call the “standard” or “professional” model of policing (see e.g.The problem-oriented policing approach was given an operational structure in Newport News, Virginia.Researchers from the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and a group of officers selected from the various ranks of the Newport News Police Department crystallized the philosophy into a set of steps known as the SARA model (Eck and Spelman 1987).According to Goldstein (1979, 1990), behind every recurring problem there are underlying conditions that create it.Incident-driven policing never addresses these conditions; therefore incidents are likely to recur.It is important to note here that Herman Goldstein (1979, 1990) intended problem-oriented policing to be a general approach that could be applied to a wide range of police business problems.This includes non-crime problems such as personnel issues, budgetary concerns, and police-community relations.Skogan and Frydl 2004) that was characterized by rigorous professional standards, militaristic organizational structures, the use of technology, and other important historical reforms.Under this model, police departments attempted to prevent serious crimes by advancing three operational strategies: preventive patrol, rapid response, and investigation of more serious cases by specialized detective units.Answering calls for service is an important task and still must be done, but police officers should respond systematically to recurring calls for the same problem.In order for the police to be more efficient and effective, they must gather information about incidents and design an appropriate response based on the nature of the underlying conditions that cause the problem(s) (Goldstein 1990).