Herman Goldstein

Reflections on Receiving the 2018 Stockholm Prize in Criminology

I am deeply honored to have been named the recipient of the 2018 Stockholm Prize in Criminology. I am especially grateful to the Prize's international Jury and the Swedish Ministry of Justice for recognizing how work on improving the complex institution of policing can benefit from and, in turn, contribute to advancing criminological study. I thank you on my own behalf and on behalf of all who have engaged in the development of problem-oriented policing. And I thank the University of Wisconsin and its Law School for supporting my work over the years.

The concept of problem-oriented policing was first set forth in 1979 as a thought-piece, intended to stimulate those concerned with police reform to move beyond what was then the dominant focus: the organization and management of police agencies and achieving greater efficiency. In problem-oriented policing, I proposed that more attention be given in reform efforts to the business of policing -- to the effectiveness and fairness of police responses and the ultimate outcome of police efforts.

As the concept developed, police themselves were encouraged to select micro-problems that arise in their communities for intensive study with the goal of developing novel, tailor-made responses. They were urged to place a high value on finding alternatives that are preventive in nature, are not exclusively dependent on the criminal justice system, and that engage the community, other public agencies, and the private sector. And they were encouraged to experiment with implementing the new response on which they settled, rigorously evaluating its results, and sharing those results with other practitioners.

In the intervening years since first articulated, it has been satisfying to learn about the agencies or individual officers who have taken some initiatives along the recommended lines. While greatly varied in their approaches and their use of the suggested elements in the original concept, much progress has been realized. Police are investing more heavily in thinking in an organized, systematic and sustained way about what it is that the police are called on to do -- and how they should do it. They are increasingly drawing on academic research when digging into problems and to inform their choice of responses. They are engaging, in a collaborative manner, with the rich resources within their communities, from representatives of diverse groups, involved parties, and those having special knowledge about, or interests in, specific problems. And, of special note, they are drawing heavily on the reservoir of untapped capacity and commitment within their own ranks, which has been especially productive. With the passage of years, the results of systematic inquiries are growing in their quality.

I'm forever mindful that policing has always been more complex and more challenging than is commonly recognized. And police today are, in many jurisdictions, caught up in a maelstrom of conflicting views regarding the role of the police in their communities. But current concerns about the police -- their use of force, equitable treatment of all people, and their accountability -- often lead back to considerations about how society expects the police to handle the enormous set of intricate social problems presented to them. Efforts under problem-oriented policing to refine police protocols for dealing with common problems, undertaken in collaboration with the community, are directly responsive to these concerns.

I'm heartened to learn, through this award, that the use being made of the concept of problem-oriented policing is more widespread than I had previously known; that it has taken root in various forms in multiple countries. I invite others to expand on the concept. I hope that it will be increasingly useful to those who share in the goals of both reducing crime and disorder and strengthening a form of policing that supports democratic values.

I look forward to further exploring the potential in advancing problem-oriented policing at the colloquium scheduled to take place in Stockholm in June.

See Michael Scott, Director, Center for Problem-Oriented Policing for overall, current knowledge of development of the concept.

See Case Studies & Other Materials for information on the implementing of problem-oriented policing, including winners of the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing; and other individuals working on the concept.

Please direct any inquiries or requests for additional information to adam@goldsteinsc.com.