preventive patrol | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee


Course: Introduction / Policing

Preventive patrol is a policing strategy base on the idea that officers in highly visible uniforms and vehicles will deter crime by their mere presence in the community.

Preventive patrol is a policing strategy that focuses on deterring crime by having officers patrol a given area in a highly visible manner. It is based on the idea that the mere presence of police officers in a community can act as a deterrent to criminal activity. The strategy was first introduced in the 1960s and was widely adopted by police departments throughout the United States.

The rationale behind preventive patrol is that when officers are visible and accessible, they can quickly respond to calls for service, prevent crimes from occurring, and establish relationships with members of the community. The strategy is also based on the assumption that criminals are rational actors who will be less likely to commit crimes if they believe they are likely to be caught by the police.

The implementation of preventive patrol has been the subject of much debate and criticism over the years. Critics argue that it is an inefficient use of police resources and that there is little evidence to support the claim that it reduces crime. Some studies have found that preventive patrol has little to no impact on crime rates and that other policing strategies, such as community policing and problem-oriented policing, may be more effective.

Despite the criticism, preventive patrol remains a common policing strategy in many communities. In some areas, the presence of police officers in highly visible uniforms and vehicles is seen as a sign of safety and security, and the strategy is popular among residents who feel safer knowing that police are nearby.

In recent years, the use of technology has allowed police departments to enhance the effectiveness of preventive patrol. For example, the use of surveillance cameras and license plate readers can help officers identify potential suspects and prevent crimes before they occur. Additionally, the use of data analytics and crime mapping tools can help officers identify high-crime areas and allocate resources accordingly.

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Last Modified: 04/10/2023


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