Print Edition: September 3, 2014
UFV’s RCMP research chair Irwin Cohen has co-written a new book detailing a police-based method of crime reduction. Eliminating Crime — co-authored by Darryl Plecas, Amanda V. McCormick, and Adrienne Peters — has been implemented throughout the Fraser Valley and elsewhere in BC.
Cohen proposes a model of crime reduction based on seven principles:
focusing on offenders,
focusing on problems,
developing meaningful partnerships within the community
and being performance-based.
Cohen said policing models have shifted over time toward crime reduction.
“Almost a decade ago, there was a reorientation of policing models,” Cohen explained. “Police organizations in the US, UK, and Canada began to think … about whether or not their … approach to crime [was] the best one, over time they moved to [the crime reduction model of policing].”
Cohen’s approach is prevention-based: it seeks to avoid recidivism, but also addresses the issues that contribute to crime in a community.
Cohen stressed that police need to be proactive when dealing with crime.
“What [Eliminating Crime] tries to highlight are the successes that police departments have had, in of course being reactive to crime, but [more importantly] being proactive to crime,” he said.
Cohen went on to explain this type of police work, which attempts to eliminate the root cause of crime instead of dealing with criminal activity instance by instance, is more useful and effective when reducing the number of calls made to police about crime.
“Opportunities for crime… and the number of people interested in committing crime are being reduced, and that’s the idea behind crime reduction.”
Cohen also said crime is very much a social and a community problem. Pre-existing conditions such as drug abuse and alcoholism can be catalysts to crime, and he suggested that those issues, along with others such as mental health issues, need to be treated early on to prevent them from becoming a contributing factor to criminal activity within a community.
While Eliminating Crime focuses on police-based crime reduction, Cohen argues that “there’s another book we should be writing called The Seven Principles of Community-Based Crime Reduction. What is it that communities can do to help reduce crime?”
Eliminating Crime focuses on the role of police, but police are just one part of the solution. The fifth principle of the book talks about meaningful partnerships.
“There are certain things that other people can do better than police [in preventing crime],” Cohen said.
These partnerships, he noted, are integral pieces to not only deterring potential criminals, but also educating and guiding people from the moment they are born to becoming good citizens.
Many environmental factors contribute to the development of crime. So, in order to prevent crime, one must address those factors, which include social issues such as drug and alcohol addiction and access to education. Cohen also pointed out that resource allocation is very important in the prevention of crime.
The book’s seven steps to police-based crime reduction are presented to reduce crime rates not just by highlighting certain target areas, but also by stressing that police need to make the most out of every resource in their arsenal in their fight to reduce crime.
As the methods detailed in Eliminating Crime have proven to be successful separately in different jurisdictions, all seven principles — when made to work as a cohesive driving force by police — should make for a safer, more effective police force, and therefore a safer community.