Reactive Policing Vs. Problem Solving Policing

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Reactive Policing vs. Problem Solving Policing


Both reactive and problem solving policing are significant strategies. In contemporary times, the problem solving policing practice is more suited as compared to traditional reactive policing.

Reactive Policing

Police work traditionally has been reactive and involves responding to citizens' calls when crimes have already been committed and when community peace has been disrupted. Police duties also involve proactive surveillance to detect criminal activity as it is being committed; for example, police officers may patrol areas that have high rates of drug dealing, prostitution, or gang-related crimes and must decide when to intervene and whether to arrest offenders (Greene, 29).

Similarly, officers may park their car to detect speeders; officers must decide which of the speeders to pull over, whether to give the speeder a ticket, and whether to search citizens or vehicles for possible illegal contraband such as drugs or weapons (Cordner, 82).


Community policing, where police officers are assigned certain neighborhoods to patrol using bikes or walking, is part of proactive police work and has been implemented to prevent criminal activity and to improve the relationship between the police and citizens so that citizens are more likely to report crimes or suspicious activity to the police. Thus, it is important to examine decision making in both proactive and reactive policy work. Public police are bottom-heavy and reactive, but they mount periodic crackdowns. The police demonstrate the general organizational rule for resource allocation—they retain slack resources to cope with uncertainty.


The police in the United States became increasingly militarized and dependent on the 911 emergency response system during the decade of the 1980s (Bayley, 56). New and more efficient technologies were incorporated into police procedure. The end of the cold war resulted in a refocus of military resources to the “war on crime and drugs,” even as crime rates leveled off. By the early 1990s, crime rates increased precipitously, and again traditional reactive police response proved inadequate, despite enhanced technology and the more favorable climate for enforcement efforts provided by a more conservative Supreme Court. The theoretical underpinnings of community policing are arguably based on critical social theory, a radical notion of community empowerment that also encompasses an enlightened and emancipatory worldview of social relations in general, and community in particular (Greene, 30). However, the culturally entrenched obsession with crime in the United States militates against the radical transformation of policing to a true community policing model.

Problem Solving ...
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