Problem-Oriented Policing

Suppression; Ages 15–24


(Read the criteria for these ratings)
  • Promising gang structure
  • Promising delinquency structure
  • Effective adult program


Several gang suppression measures have shown limited success, including forming cul-de-sacs with concrete barriers to alter the flow of gang-driven vehicles, anti-loitering statutes, civil injunctions, traffic checkpoints, curfew and truancy enforcement, and crackdowns on gun violations. However, law enforcement suppression in the form of problem-oriented policing (Goldstein, 1979, 1990; also called problem-solving policing) shows much more promise.

Problem-oriented policing involves two distinctive features: (1) analyzing crime data and using that information in designing strategies and tactics and (2) engaging community representatives and others in the analysis and planning process. For example, problem-oriented strategies that identify gun crime hot spots and incorporate increased patrol and street searches of suspicious individuals show the most promise (Braga, 2004). The short-term success of “offender-oriented” or “pulling levers” deterrence strategies used to target high-rate, violent offenders has been demonstrated in several sites. Pioneered in the Boston Gun Project (also called Operation Ceasefire; see separate description in this compendium), this strategy specifically and effectively targeted gang members in Boston and in Stockton, California (Braga, 2004). Problem-oriented policing has been used widely in targeting group-involved violence generally in addition to gangs themselves (Braga, Kennedy, and Tita, 2002).

Risk Factors

Exposure to firearm violence
General delinquency involvement
High alcohol/drug use
High drug dealing
Illegal gun ownership/carrying
Physical violence/aggression
Violent victimization
Availability and use of drugs in the neighborhood
Availability of firearms
Feeling unsafe in the neighborhood
High-crime neighborhood
Neighborhood youth in trouble
Association with antisocial/aggressive/delinquent peers; high peer delinquency
Association with gang-involved peers/relatives
Peer alcohol/drug use


Office of Community Oriented Policing Services: Effective strategy


U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
1100 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Phone: (800) 421-6770 or (202) 307-1480
Web site:


Braga. A. A. (2004). Gun Violence Among Serious Young Offenders. Problem-Oriented Guides for Police. Problem-Specific Guides Series. Guide No. 23. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Braga, A. A.; Kennedy, D. M.; and Tita, G. E. (2002). “New Approaches to the Strategic Prevention of Gang and Group-Involved Violence.” In C. R. Huff (ed.), Gangs in America III. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, pp. 271–285.

Goldstein, H. (1979). “Improving Policing: A Problem-Oriented Approach.” Crime and Delinquency, 25:236–258.

Goldstein, H. (1990). Problem-Oriented Policing. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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