• Center for Problem oriented policing

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Creating a Plan to Improve Environmental Conditions

This is a critical point in problem-solving because it is time to make decisions about what to do. Stakeholders should be engaged in developing the plan and are likely to have very concrete ideas about what they want and why. Opportunities for input are important because broad community support for the plan enhances the potential for success during plan implementation.

Plan development is not an isolated activity, but one that comes near the end of a potentially very long process. It is focused on solving a well-defined problem. It uses the data that have been collected and the analyses that have already been completed. It relies on previous input from stakeholders and asks for more advice along the way. (In fact, the plan should include regular opportunities for stakeholders to offer their opinions on how well things are going.)

The process can be organized into five steps.

  1. Identify the full range of options available to solve the problem, which may include:
    • physical improvements
      • alterations in the building design, floorplan, room layouts
      • changes to site layout
      • new or improved site amenities like lighting and landscaping
    • security enhancements
    • additional target-hardening measures
    • modifications to uses or activity schedules
    • changes to laws, rules, regulations, or policies governing use and behavior
    • community empowerment and institutional support
    • changes to area land uses or to laws and regulations governing development.

    Not all of these alternatives should be included for every problem. The actual list depends on the problem and the setting.

  2. Narrow the list to include programs and strategies most likely to have an impact.§
  3. Decide which of these should be included in the plan for improvement, and in what order of priority, giving due consideration to:
    • criticality of need
    • ease of implementation
    • cost
    • legality
    • technical feasibility
    • positive and negative externalities, and
    • client or community support.

    One question that frequently arises during this step is whether programs with popular support should be included, even if they hold little potential for addressing the problem or improving environmental conditions. Decisions about trade-offs and the relative weight given to the community's priorities are also situational, and best handled on a case-by-case basis. But it is important to be prepared for such controversy.

  4. Develop the plan document, with details on funding and staffing resource requirements, responsibilities, implementation (immediate, short-term, long-term schedules), and indicators of success, tied to the evaluation.
  5. Implement the strategies in the plan using the schedule and responsibilities outlined in the plan document. Though community support for the plan should be in place, some attention may need to be given to community education, participation and input, and other strategies to engage stakeholders and garner support for the plan.

§ For examples, see the Problem-Specific Guides on GraffitiRobbery at Automated Teller Machines, and School Vandalism and Break-ins, among others. 

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