Saturday, October 12, 2013

Back to the future - POP in 2014?

Photo from 2013 Goldstein Award Winners, Enfield school robbery POP project report -  Sandeep Broca and Ian Agar, London UK

This week I attended the 24th annual International Problem Oriented Policing (POP) conference in Dayton, Ohio run by the POP Center. After depressing news last blog about funding cuts in UK crime prevention there is good news from London.

The POP conference is flagship for the best community policing in the world. It features finalists in the Goldstein POP Award program. I've blogged on previous winners. This year the slate was impressive:

  • Citrus Heights police in California helped trigger revitalization of a crime-ridden street
  • Houston police cut robberies in convenience stores
  • Dayton and Milwaukee police reduced prostitution and help get streetwalkers off the street; 
  • New Zealand police reduced youth crime, and 
  • Hamilton police in Canada cooled violent hotspots downtown.

The 2013 winner of the International Herman Goldstein POP award was from police in the London UK borough of Enfield. Their community safety partnership tackled a worrisome increase in youth robberies around schools.

Enfield crime map on robbery hotspots around 3 schools helped target efforts - Sandeep Broca and Iain Agar, Enfield POP Project report
The Enfield team worked in schools (mentoring, anti-bullying), applied CPTED (after-class dispersal zones, staggered school closing times) and used enforcement (disrupting stolen goods markets, targeted patrols). Their efforts reduced street crime, increased drug treatment access for offenders, and cut robberies in half.

I watched as Enfield and the other finalists received their well-deserved awards. I was impressed with them and all the exceptional project teams. It's heartening to see police and community partners using  POP and CPTED as paths to a better future.

Then it dawned on me - last year the COPS Office at the US Department of Justice de-funded the POP Center. Efforts are now underway to avoid shutdown, but the POP Center and POP conference may be history. I wonder if this forebodes more combat policing and crime prevention defunding?

After decades of documented police innovation carrying us forward into the 21st Century are we now de-evolving back to the 20th?

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