The 2002 Problem Solving Study

Jason Bennis, Lynn Steiner and Wesley G. Skogan

This paper documents a field study that produced an independent assessment of the success of Chicago police in solving problems. Problem solving is one of the key components of CAPS, the city's community policing program. Police and neighborhood residents were trained to tackle these problems using a five-step process, and the department's new information systems produce data for planning and evaluating their efforts. This study focused on the most commonly identified priority beat problems. Interviews, field observations, and archival data were examined to (a) reconstruct what actions police and residents took at each site, and to (b) assess the success of their problem-solving efforts, on several dimensions. The research was completed in 68 sample beats. A total of 142 interviews were conducted with police officers and 136 with informed residents. A total of 419 forms that systematically assessed the extent of problems and police or resident crime prevention efforts were completed. The observers themselves inspected the problem sites on 428 occasions, spending a total of 569 hours observing events and conditions there. The fieldwork component of the study was supplemented by statistical analyses of quantitative time series data on crime and calls for service. This aspect of the study is described in the forthcoming CAPS-27.

The paper includes all of the observation forms and survey questionnaires used in the study.

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