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Safe Travel to and From School: A Problem-Oriented Policing Approach

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 1996
98 pages
Publication Series
This report addresses the design, implementation, and evaluation of a pilot program intended to use problem-oriented policing as a method for designing an effective intervention to counter the problem of safe travel to and from school for students at the John Wanamaker Middle School in North Philadelphia.
The problem-oriented policing strategy involved four stages of systematic inquiry. First, individual incidents were grouped together in the hope of uncovering trends, relationships, and common causes among the individual incidents. Second, a systematic collection of information relating to the larger problem was collected; this involved focus groups, a victimization survey, and a mapping of incidents. Third, the response stage involved the design and implementation of a program of action. Fourth, the assessment measured the impact and effectiveness of the response. The basic strategy compared the locations of student residences in relationship to the school and noted their geographic relationship to where victimization incidents had occurred. A safe corridor was then designated for patrolling by the three law enforcement agencies responsible for the school district. The law enforcement agencies divided the "safe corridor" into overlapping zones of coverage, with each agency being responsible for patrolling certain zones at certain times. Students and their parents were informed of the existence and location of the safe corridor. Maps were issued to depict the areas of coverage and the times of operation. In addition, each officer was provided with a one-page handout that described the safe corridor and solicited community participation. The assessment was based on 6 weeks of intervention. Police activity was measured, and a second victimization survey was conducted. Results from test and control groups were compared. The evaluation found that the concentrated efforts of law enforcement agencies and individuals in the program did not have the impact on student victimization expected. Many victimizations occurred outside of the safe corridor, with many occurring within schools and on school grounds. Students viewed the school interior as the most likely place for an attack to occur. As an illustration of the process of problem-oriented policing, the project can be considered a success, but the relative ineffectiveness of the concept itself points to both a need for more comprehensive crime-reduction and violence-reduction solutions, as well as better evaluation tools to assess the real impacts of these strategies on younger, school-aged populations. 23 tables, 16 figures, 7 references, and appended instruments and codebook

Date Published: June 1, 1996