A problem is defined as recurring incidents that are similar in nature, cause harm or have the potential to cause harm, and that the public expects the police to fix. (The International Association of Crime Analysts [IACA]) Problem solving consists of a planning process which involves brainstorming and coming up with alternative ways to correct an undesirable situation. There are many processes, approaches, procedures, methods, tactics, strategies, policies, and technologies involved in problem solving. Problem solving can be used to evaluate crime and other problems, look into what the underlying causes may be, develop and implement solutions to the problems, and analyze the effectiveness of the solutions on the problems. (Ortmeier, P.J. & Meese III, E., 2010) Problem solving is used in many settings, with community oriented problem solving at the forefront. Communities join efforts with the local police agencies and work towards a solution to the problem or problems that their community is facing. (Glensor, & Peak, 1998)
With many problem solving models to choose from, the Scanning, Analysis, Response, & Assessment (SARA) model is what will be the focus of this paper. The SARA problem solving model places an emphasis on problem solving as a key to what community policing. (Glensor,R. et. Al 1998) The SARA model stems from the innovative work of Herman Goldstein in the late 1970’s. His model was then tested in Newport News, Virginia in 1984. The studies showed that with the collaborative effort of the police, researchers, community members, and the SARA model, crime and other problems could be significantly reduced through customized responses to the thoroughly analyzed problems. (IACA)
The SARA model is the best known model used in policing. The model consists of four systematic steps towards effective problem solving: scanning, analysis, response, and assessment. All steps are important and interdependent upon each other in some way. (Glensor,R. et. Al 1998) The goal of the SARA model is to combine police and community resources in order to effectively reduce crime. By forming a group with these members, bias is reduced and diversity is increased. With a diverse group of people, the group is more open to different ideas that may come to the table. It is important to recognize that the SARA model is not about quick fixes, but rather long term goals with long term effectiveness. (Applied Criminology Associates [ACA], 2002) It can be cyclical when a goal is not achieved on the first time around. The model is provides a framework for community and police problem solving as well as for oversight agencies to evaluate the problem solving of the police themselves. (Porter, 2013)
Now we will take a look at the specific steps and what they entail. The first step in the SARA model is “scanning”. Scanning consists of a wide range of ways of identifying that a problem exists. Ways of identifying a problem can stem from the...