Strategic Policing – A critique on the Random Patrol method

Elliot (1973), using the theory of probability, concludes random patrol as the most effective method to intercept criminal behaviour compared to stake out and continuous patrolling, where the offender cannot make predictions on chances of getting apprehended.

Larson’s (1972) ‘hazard or workload’ formulas talk about the quantification of police resource deployment for patrolling. Mulvaney (1975) gives the objectives, methods of crime prevention, activities and responsibilities of a patrol officer carrying out patrolling.

Wilson and Mclaren (1977) writes, “crime results from the coexistence of the desire to commit a criminal act and the belief that the opportunity to do so exists”. They highlight that the elimination or reduction of the factors of desire and opportunity is a basic police duty. They also suggest that patrol will continue to carry out the most important police function and its absence would result in lawlessness.

Among these readings I found Wilson and McLaren’s write up giving more credit to the strategy of random police patrol. Others have not provided that widely, the applicability and solutions to real life policing from their theories. I strongly believe that police visibility on the streets and largely in crime affected areas is the most effective strategy to repress crime and reassure the public of security. This must go with the effective and optimal use of police resources and also with greater public support. It’s not only repression of crime but also the public – police interaction, intelligence gathering that are other objectives achieved through this strategy. In the present scenario where criminal behavior is at a high with other forms of threat to the security of persons and property, the message or the evidence of police presence to both perpetrators and the law abiding citizen is of high necessity in order to achieve the policing objective.

Readings:
Elliott, J 1973, “Theory of random patrol” in Interception patrol: an examination of the theory of random patrol as a municipal police tactic, Charles C Thomas, Springfield, Illinois, chap. 3, pp14-25,

Larson, R 1972 “Hazard or workload formulas” in Urban police patrol analysis, MIT Press, Cambridge, pp 36-40.

Mulvaney, R 1975, “Routine patrol” in Police operations and services, Davis Publishing Co., New York, pp 30-35.

Wilson, O & McLaren, R 1977, “Patrol” in Police administration, McGraw-Hill, New York, chap 16, pp 317-327.

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