Should juveniles be tried as adults? Initially, laws did not differentiate between adults and kids within the system of criminal justice. Children were charged, tested, and sentenced like adults in adult courts. The sentencing posed varied problems considering no distinctions between age, mental illness, and gender. Meaning, prison populations were mixed up with adults and children. However, the progressive reforms through problem-oriented policing sought to change this scenario. The problem-oriented policy is an investigative technique used by police to develop strategies to reduce and prevent crime and was first advanced by Herman Goldstein in 1979 (Sidebottom, p. 14). Under the POP strategy, the police are expected to analyze the origin of a problem, find practical solutions, and evaluate their effectiveness. So, POP requires police efforts to change conditions from the hotspots to prevent them from recurring. Currently, POP is the widely used method to control crime. This essay argues that Gregory’s case should have been solved better through problem-oriented policing because POP focuses on finding the cause of a problem to prevent the same from reoccurring, focuses on the quality of solution rather than the quantity, and looks at the aspects of a crime proactively.
On June 3rd, 2016, a fourteen-year-old boy, Gregory, was arrested and later charged with a felony for throwing rocks at police officers during President Trump’s rally in New Mexico. The prosecutors said that besides being charged with two felonies, the boy would be tried in an adult court (Albuquerque, para.1). However, the police stated that “we do not want to make an example of a 14 years old boy. Instead, we want to guide him in the right direction.” Moreover, the boy’s attorney disagreed with the prosecutor arguing that trying the young boy as an adult would create a different scenario where they would be trying to destroy his future instead of helping him rehabilitate as a kid. Despite having no criminal records, the judge set the $10,000 cash bond, no different from adult charging (Albuquerque, para. 11). Besides, detaining Gregory does not solve the problem from its root cause as POP would.
First, Problem-oriented policing concentrates on the quality of the solution rather than the quantity. According to Scott (p.16), by finding the cause of the crime in question, the police can eventually eliminate the problem from specific hotspots if they apply problem-oriented tactics such as SARA, which stands for Scanning, analysis, response, and assessment. For example, if the police used the POP strategy in Gregory’s case, they would have realized where Gregory’s problem with the law was coming from, whether he had a problem with the politician and not the police, and solve the problem from the ground to avoid it from happening again. So, the traditional method used to charge Gregory, such as arrests and fines, may not prevent a similar crime from reoccurring as problem-oriented policing would.
Second, POP analyses many aspects of a problem proactively as opposed to the traditional method, which waits for a crime to take place to respond. According to Scott (p. 14), “problem-oriented policing is proactive by nature and tends to smell a problem from a distance and attempts to solve it before it occurs.” For example, in Gregory’s situation, using a problem-oriented policy in the area would have prevented the youngster from hitting the police officer with a stone. He would have been taught why and how fighting the police does not make it better for him. Besides, the law would have known what would motivate the boy to throw a stone in a rally and determine if to solve it from its hot spot or an individualized problem. So, placing a hefty fine on the boy does not provide a long-term solution to the problem.
Finally, problem-oriented policing would be a better option in Gregory’s case since POP adapts and develops solutions for a particular circumstance, unlike traditional policing that uses similar solutions for most problems. “The problem-oriented policing assess crime from the community level and find long-lasting solutions instead of focusing on sentencing and arrests” (Scot, p.11). Sentencing and arresting the boy is a traditional way of controlling crime. It is not as effective as POP as most research has proven program-oriented policing more effective than conventional juvenile policing.
In conclusion, problem-oriented policing is the best policing method for juvenile cases. The policing process develops and adapts solutions for specific issues, proactively analyzes different aspects of a claim, and focuses on the quality resolution rather than the number of arrests made. Therefore, future juvenile cases should be solved through problem-oriented policing, which solves problems from the hot spot to avoid more kids from engaging in avoidable crimes.
Albuquerque, N.M. “14-year-old charged with a felony after throwing rocks at police in Trump rally.” 2016.
Scott, Michael S. “Center for Problem-Oriented Policing.” The Encyclopedia of Community Policing and Problem Solving (2013): 11-16.
Sidebottom, Aiden, et al. “Problem-Oriented Policing in England and Wales 2019.” (2020).