What is an example of when the police could use the SARA model?

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We like to think of policing as a fixed practice with a rigid procedure that never changes. However, police and law enforcement entities are always studying new ways to effectively do their jobs. One of these methods is the SARA model, a model by which police address continuing and recurring...

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We like to think of policing as a fixed practice with a rigid procedure that never changes. However, police and law enforcement entities are always studying new ways to effectively do their jobs. One of these methods is the SARA model, a model by which police address continuing and recurring problems within a community. SARA is an acronym that stands for scanning, analysis, response, and assessment. First, the police will scan an affected area or community to identify a problem, next the police will conduct a detailed analysis to define the core of the problem, if any. Finally, police will work with the community to form an effective response to the problem and continually assess it for adjustment.

For example, suppose a community has a continued problem with vandalism and petty crime committed by teenagers. After identifying this problem by scanning, the police might then identify the core problem of many young persons having too much unsupervised time after school hours due to parents' working hours. Next, the police might work with local schools and community centers to create more after school programs to engage with young people. In the last phase, the effectiveness of this implementation would be observed and adjusted as necessary.

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The SARA model is often used by police departments to address community issues and reoccurring crimes. The model includes the following components: scanning, analysis, response, and assessment. For example, the SARA model may be used to take a look at a spike in crime in a neighborhood. The department would first scan the crime reports for recurring problems and crime data. They would prioritize the problems and identify some areas of concern, like gang violence in the neighborhood. The police would then analyze the problem by looking at data and all information related to the issue. In the case of gang violence, the police may look at patterns (time of crimes, locations, age of perpetrators, and so on). After a close analysis, the police may determine that a majority of the gang crime is occurring on weekend evenings near a local park by young adults. The next step in the process is to respond. Officials may brainstorm and identify interventions and then carry out a response plan. In the example of gang violence, the department may decide to change shifts to offer more patrols through the park area. They may also work with the local school district to create positive alternatives for students who may be at risk for joining a gang. The final step in the process is assessment. Data on the intervention should be collected. The intervention strategies should be assessed for effectiveness. In our example, the police could look at local gang crime statistics and see if there is a reduction in gang crimes within the area.

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To answer this question, we first need to clarify what the SARA model is. The acronym was developed in the field of community policing, and it stands for Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessing Results (Evaluation).

To provide an example, I will consider a hypothetical situation in which there have been a number of muggings taking place in a particular suburban park.

Scanning involves getting to grips with what the problem is. In this case, it would involve determining how many muggings had been reported to have taken place in this park and whether or not there are any common factors in the reports (i.e., time of day) or whether the victims have had a similar profile (i.e., elderly women walking on their own).

The first A in SARA stands for Analysis, and this would involve looking at this park and trying to ascertain why it has become a problem area. Is it in a low-income area? Is the area particularly secluded?

The police would then respond (R) to their findings. This may mean employing a security guard to monitor the park, erecting fences around the park, or putting up signs to warn people about the potential danger.

The final A stands for Assessing results. This means figuring out whether the above-mentioned Responses solved the problem or made a remarkable difference. If the park has been found to be safer, then the police's intervention has had a positive impact.

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Police officers could use the SARA model in any number of situations.  One possible situation might be the case of a downtown area in which many break-ins were occurring at night.

First, the police officers would need to do the Scanning part of SARA to determine if this is really a problem.  They might look at the number of crimes that are being committed now and compare it to past years to see if a real upsurge is occurring.

Second, assuming that the police decide that the break-ins are a real problem, they would then start to Analyze.  They would look at various kinds of data to try to determine why people are breaking in to these stores. 

Third, the police would prepare and implement their Response.  They might, for example, suggest that merchants install better lighting and/or security cameras to deter burglars.  They might institute more frequent patrols of the area that is being hit.  If they have determined that most of the burglars are drug addicts, they might push for more drug rehabilitation programs in their city.  Any or all of these might work to reduce the number of break-ins.

Finally, they will Analyze.  After the Response has been given a sufficient period to work, the police can look at data to see if the number of break-ins has gone down as much as they would like.  If it has, good.  If not, they will need to go back to the second step (Analyze) in the process.

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