Problem, Definition of

Definitions are important. They guide behavior, influence actions, and provide the context and scope for all activities that follow. Effective problem-solving projects, which are central to community policing efforts, require clearly defined and prioritized public safety problems that agencies seek to address. Clear problem definitions set the stage for improved analysis, response and evaluation efforts, as the absence of a clearly defined problem can result in wasted time and effort because of a lack of focus. This entry describes the ways that problems are defined in a policing context and emphasizes the importance of proper definition to maximize problem-solving efforts.

Problems in the policing context have been defined as a cluster of similar, related, or recurring incidents; a substantive community concern; or a unit of police ...

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