We're up to Step 19 in our walk through Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers and we're going to cover Step 19 - Research Your Problem in this post.
When I first started in law enforcement 19 years ago, researching was a lot more time consuming. Back then, the Internet was in it's infancy and was mainly confined to academics. If you wanted to read about new policing approaches, you subscribed to magazines, read the few police science textbooks out there or went to a conference. Now with the proliferation of the Internet, you can do meaningful research in your patrol car on an iPhone.
That being said, the Internet is a big place and much of the information out there should be looked at with a highly critical eye. A couple of really good places to start are with a couple of websites from the US Department of Justice. The COPS Program website and the Center For Problem Oriented Policing have a wealth of information there or linked from there.
Step 19 - Research Your Problem also lists a few other places you can find information to help you with researching your problem. I'm not going to list them all here but I encourage you to read the whole article at the link.
I do want to point out Limitations of the Information from the article. In it the authors offer two caveats:
That being said, it is important to examine all aspects of your problem thoroughly before trying to develop a solution. I know that when your Chief is getting heat from City Hall he or she is likely to want a suggested solution "yesterday", but if you rush this you are liable to end up with a solution that is ineffective and wastes your limited resources.
Next time: Step 20 - Formulate Hypothesis.