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Mission-Based Policing

Mission-Based Policing. By John Crank, Rebecca Murray, Dawn Irlbeck, and Mark Sundermeier. CRC Press, 257 pages; $89.95.

The authors of Mission-Based Policing have developed an interesting approach to urban policing in high-crime areas, called “hot spots.” The counterinsurgency paradigm advanced by Lt. General David H. Petra­eus and Lt. General James F. Amos is the impetus of their mission-based policing.

In Iraq and Afghan­istan, our military has developed a counter­insurgency strategy of keeping troops in hot spots on a continuous basis. The previous strategy of clearing an area of insurgents, and then moving on proved to be ineffective and inefficient. Hence, this “raiding and withdrawing” dogma was generally discarded.

The goal of mission-based policing is to end crime in hot spots by maintaining a continuing police presence with the concomitance of combining police resources to eradicate the environmental factors that contribute to serious criminal activity. The authors argue rather convincingly that a raiding or swarming strategy in hot spots is not an effective strategy for ending crime as these operations yield only fleeting successes.

Interestingly, the authors of Mission-Based Policing seem to believe that the contrivance of arrest is not central to their theory of “ending crime” in the hot spots and should only be used as a “last resort.” Their notion of ending crime in high-crime areas is to lower the rate of significant criminal activity to match that which exists in the other parts of a given city.

This tome will likely generate a degree of interest in academia as well as contribute substantially to the ongoing conversation on crime-control strategies in ur­ban areas. Realistically, however, the possibility of implementing mission-based policing, as described by the authors, remains rather remote, given the cost.

Reviewer: Hugh J. Martin is a retired director of public safety/chief of police from Wisconsin who currently works in the field of campus security. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He holds graduate degrees from Loyola University and the University of Wisconsin, and he is a member of ASIS International.