Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses to Cruising

The table below summarizes the responses to cruising, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

General Considerations for an Effective Strategy
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
1Enlisting community support Establishes joint ownership of the problem, while educating the public…there is sufficient police knowledge of, and public interest in, the problemPartnerships offer the best approach for addressing problems over time
2Establishing alternative activities for youth Removes some of the motivation for cruising, directing youth attention away from the streetsa long-term goal of establishing teen clubs or centers is set, and local businesses contributeIt sends a message that youth are important and community amenities are accessible to all
3Promoting other uses of the cruising area Discourages cruisers, as they have to compete for space and attentionfoot traffic increases, cruise areas are used for special events, and businesses stay open laterThere may be legal challenges if public space is seriously restricted or people are charged admission to enter public areas
Specific Responses to Problems of Cruising
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
4Enacting and enforcing cruising ordinances Deters cruisers through the threat of fines or other penaltiesa large number of officers are deployed in the cruising area, and they enforce the ordinances in conjunction with other, related ordinancesCruising ordinances are generally less vulnerable to legal challenges if the city posts warning signs in cruising areas and police first give cruisers a written warning; they can be expensive to enforce
5Enforcing trespassing and loitering laws Reduces opportunities for onlookers to watch cruising, thereby reducing a main incentive for itpolice obtain judicial cooperation, so that enforcement actions have a significant impactEnforcing trespassing laws on private property requires owners' consent; loitering laws are subject to legal challenges
6Restricting parking Limits the size of the crowds watching the cruisingparking is restricted on both public streets and private parking lots near the cruising areaNew parking ordinances may be required
7Enforcing laws that restrict juveniles' driving privileges Reduces the number of juveniles cruising, thereby reducing their risk of offending and being victimizedthe laws prohibit youths from driving at night and limit the number of passengers they can haveStiffer penalties might include license revocation if underage drivers are convicted of any drinking-related offense; it requires a strong police commitment to enforce the laws
8Regulating and redirecting traffic Discourages cruisers from driving in cruising areas, and prevents conversation and antagonism between vehicle occupantspolice also enforce related ordinancesIt may require special legal authorization
9Increasing street lighting Reduces the risk of traffic crashes, gives victims a better opportunity to identify offenders, and increases the public's sense of securitya qualified lighting designer and city planners determine types and locations of lightingIt may be costly to implement and bothersome to surrounding residents
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
10Sanctioning cruising in alternative locations Moves cruising to areas where it is less likely to interfere with other activities, and where police can more easily monitor and control itall or most cruisers are willing to use the alternative locationsLocal governments may be liable for harms occurring at officially sanctioned locations; police must still be present to monitor cruising; extra amenities may be required if the locations are deemed public spaces
11Enforcing juvenile curfews Reduces the number of juveniles cruising, thereby reducing their risk of offending and being victimizedthere is widespread public support for curfew enforcementCurfews are commonly politically controversial and subject to legal challenge; police enforcement may be labor-intensive
12Increasing police patrols Deters cruisers through increased police presence and enforcementa special detail of officers (e.g., a traffic unit) is deployed at peak cruising timesIt is costly and reduces the number of officers available for other tasks
13Sentencing offenders to community service Deters offenderscommunity service activities address cruising-related harmsIt could gain widespread business and citizen support, and promote positive police-youth relations, depending on whether police administer the program in a positive manner
14Setting up sobriety and vehicle inspection checkpoints Discourages cruising, and removes intoxicated drivers and unsafe vehicles from the cruising areathe checkpoints do not contribute to traffic congestion and confusionThey are labor- intensive and costly