“Bürgernähe Bringt Erfolg,” Der Überblick, January 1998, 28-30.
of the most important of which is “problem solving.”  Problem solving policing
rejects the traditional police practice of treating each emergency telephone call as
an isolated event that is best resolved by driving quickly to the scene of the crime
and arresting someone.  Instead, using police databases and discussion with
community residents, Chicago police attempt to focus their efforts on specific
problems and places where they may actually make a permanent change. A
“problem” is defined as a group of related incidents that concerns a significant
portion of those who live or work in a particular neighborhood. The links between
incidents can arise from common victims, offenders or methods of operation, but
most are defined by their concentration in specific locations. Problems are also
persistent: they are unlikely to disappear without an intervention of some
magnitude, because they typically have already survived routine police attempts to
resolve them. Because problems are persistent, the repeated incidents probably
share causes, so dealing with these underlying conditions may prevent future
problems. It is also important that problems potentially can be solved using the
resources that police and the community can bring to bear on them; not
everything is in their power. Finally, problems need not be serious criminal
matters. While dealing with crime remains at the heart of the police mission, it was
envisioned from the beginning that the responsibilities of the Chicago police would
expand to cover a much broader range of community concerns. These included
minor social disorders, municipal service problems, and a broad range of
enforcement matters that were handled by civil courts and administrative hearings.
Problems may not be legal offenses at all; they can (and do) range from noise to
the dilapidated condition of many of the city’s older buildings in poor
neighborhoods. Chicago’s model for problem solving involves a significant
expansion of the police mandate.