Problem Oriented Policing – Guest Blogger Lt. Ryan Gagnon

I recently had the opportunity of attending the 25th annPOPual Problem Oriented Policing conference in Portland, Oregon.  The Center for Problem Oriented Policing is a non-profit organization comprising of police practitioners, researchers, and universities who are dedicated to the advancement of problem oriented policing.  The center was established in 1999 with funding from U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Program).  The center produces POP guides which are distributed to individuals and agencies around the world.  There are now just under 200 guides available, which assist groups in addressing problems in their communities on a variety of topics and how others have handled specific problems in the past.  This has proven to be a valuable resource for law enforcement and the community.

In Auburn Hills we see ourselves as addressing and attempting to solve community problems rather than just responding to calls for service.  Some of our calls are repetitious so we attempt to discern a pattern and find strategies, using multiple community resources, to address the problem.  Arrests and citations are only one strategy.  Although it isn’t well known, only about 30% of our time is related to crime.  The rest of the time is largely given to the maintenance of social order–like responding to the mentally ill, policing crowds, things like that.  We look for better ways to address the non crime problems that occupy so many of our resources.

We have been using the problem oriented policing strategy toward addressing problems in our community for the last 10 years.  It was an excellent opportunity to hear from various speakers about problems they faced in their community and how they were able to solve them.  The information was current and shed light on various ways police departments are using strategies to improve relationships and partnerships in their communities.

The conference was attended by hundreds of people from around the world.  I was able to meet police professionals from England and Bermuda, as well as from small towns and big cities across the country.  One thing we all had in common was that we all have a desire to make our communities safe and take a serious look at the practices we are using to make sure that happens.

There were numerous classes to choose from every hour.  I tried to attend the ones most applicable to our community, where the information could be of value to use some day toward problems we may encounter.  Some of these classes included:

  • Implementing Problem Oriented Policing in the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office and London, England Police Service. The strategic plans used to build this into their agencies culture.
  • Implementing and Sustaining Problem Solving in a Police Organization.
  • POP and Organizational Reform: The Cincinnati Experience. The challenges they faced in the early 2000’s.  It was very interesting to hear from the police and a community activist and how they have worked together to overcome a lot of tension over the years.
  • Crime and Disorder at Budget Motels in Tukwila, Washington.
  • The Police Response to Mentally Ill People in Dayton, Ohio and Manchester, England.
  • Policing Crowds in Las Vegas, Nevada.

There was valuable information that I gained from attending the conference that can be beneficial when handling problems in our community.  It re-affirmed for me that our agency takes matters, whether big or small, seriously and that we use the problem oriented policing strategies.  There is always room for improvement and I look forward to identifying areas where we can be more effective in our problem solving strategies.

Thank you to the city for the opportunity to attend.

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I'm the Chief of Police for the Auburn Hills Police Department.