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NCJ Number: 75306 Find in a Library
Title: What Can the Police Do About Violence?
Journal: Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science  Volume:452  Dated:(November 1980)  Pages:13-21
Author(s): J Q Wilson
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 9
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Most people assume that the police can do little to stop violence, but there is little evidence that supports that assumption.
Abstract: A 1977 poll which asked people who or what is responsible for the high crime rate found that only 20 percent of those responding thought the police should have 'a lot of the blame,' while over half of the respondents placed the blame on leniency of the law or how the law was applied by judges, and social conditions such as poverty and unemployment. However, the police do have frequent contact with both communal and stranger-instrumental violence, contacts which allow effective interventions. Communal violence is violence that occurs among offenders and victims who had ongoing personal relationships well before their violent encounters; these relationships may well continue after the violent encounters; these relationships may well continue after the violent encounters. In stranger-instrumental violent encounters, no prior relationship existed between offender and victim, and violence was used during the commission of a serious crime to establish control over the victim. If police records tabulated violent crimes according to the relationships of victims and offenders rather than according to legal categories, if police departments mounted careful experiments to test effects of different ways of dealing with communal violence, and if the police made greater efforts to detect and confiscate illegally carried guns, then the police might be more successful in reducing violent crime. Moreover, if imaginative experiments suggest that gains can be made by applying new methods then matters that once were regarded by police officers as 'garbage cases' may become more attractive service opportunities. Sixteen footnotes are included. For related articles, see NCJ 75304.
Index Term(s): Police effectiveness; Violence; Violent crimes
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