Essay: Random Preventive Patrol

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Preventive Patrol Efficacy

Random Preventive Patrol

Random preventive patrol has long been thought of as a fundamental and effective basis of policing -- dating way back to the 13th century when patrolling force was created in Hangchow (Caro 1976: 323). In England, the prevention of crime has been the "principal object" by police since their establishment on a permanent footing in 1829 (Gilling 1997: 1). By the 20th century in America, approximately $2 billion was spent every single year on the maintenance and operation of uniformed and well-equipped police forces (1976: 323). For hundreds and hundreds of years, people have believed that the mere presence of uniformed police officers on patrol significantly inhibits criminal activity (1976: 323). Modern day policing has long used and thought of preventive policing as an efficacious way of preventing criminal acts and disorderly conduct.

Crime control is a huge area of discussion and one that has been, as mentioned, a part of police discourse for centuries and centuries. Crime prevention brings in so many different areas of the criminal justice system, social and public policies, and the lives of citizens whom are affected by crime. Crime, in itself, is a very broad and general word and it encompasses so many different actions. Is it possible that preventive patrolling can deter so many different criminal actions in a positive way? That would seem very hard to believe. While police patrolling may stop some people some of the time, it is probably wiser to think that police patrolling will not stop most of the people most of the time. This is only said because people find a way to work around the law and the other reason is because prediction is so difficult. Random police patrolling will only have random successes and soon people who want to commit criminal acts will learn where to do it and where not to do it. Police officers cannot predict crime 100% or even 50% of the time. This is probably the most important element to consider because when one cannot predict, there is another who knows that one cannot predict, and in that space a crime will be attempted or committed.

Though preventive policing has been popular in modern times, there are also many who believe that random preventive patrol is ineffective as shown in the "Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment." While some may not be informed about this experiment, they may simply believe that preventive policing keeps police officers from other more important work that they should be doing (e.g., like crimes already happening).

One experiment, as mentioned above, and probably the most famous when it comes to preventive patrolling, the "Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment," was the first chief study carried out with the goal of looking at the efficiency of random preventive police patrol. The whole experiment had one main goal: to see if police presence prevented crime by stopping potential criminals and if individuals' worries about criminal activity and being victimized were lowered by an increase in police presence. When the study was done [in 1972], the basic conclusion was that random patrol didn't stop crime from occurring nor did it lower individuals' worries about the occurrence of crimes. Though it is important to know that when looking at the experiment more closely, there are several problems with the study -- including the methodology (Caro 1976: 323).

The late O.W. Wilson, former chief of the Chicago Police Department as well as a prominent academic theorists on police issues said: "Patrol is an indispensable service that plays a leading role in the accomplishment of the police purpose. It is the only form of police service that directly attempts to eliminate opportunity for misconduct" (Caro 1976: 323). Wilson's whole theory was that by creating an impression of police "omnipresence," police patrol can convince many -- really, most -- potential criminals that the success of any misconduct simply does not exist and therefore they should not take the risk (1976: 323).

The experiment, which was a landmark experiment, illustrated that routine police patrol did not have any significant effect on crime rates, individuals' fear of crime, or individuals' satisfaction with the police department. The Kansas City Police Chief, Joseph McNamara, said once the experiment was finished: "The results of [this experiment] repudiated a tradition prevailing in police work for almost 150 years" (Police Foundation 2010). Based on this experiment, it is sufficient to say that preventive policy, while it makes sense in theory, simply does not translate into… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Random Preventive Patrol.  (2010, October 1).  Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/random-preventive-patrol/1224096

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