Problem-Oriented Policing: Where Social Work Meets Law Enforcement

The police have been particularly susceptible to the "means over ends" syndrome, placing more emphasis in their improvement efforts on organization and operating methods than on the substantive outcome of their work. This condition has been fed by the professional movement within the police field, with its concentration on the staffing, management, and organization of police agencies. More and more persons are questioning the widely held assumption that improvements in the internal management of police departments will enable the police to deal more effectively with the problems they are called upon to handle. If the police are to realize a greater return on the investment made in improving their operations,and if they are to mature as a profession, they must concern themselves more directly with the end product of their efforts. ~Herman Goldstein

Continuing attention to the problem would enter a longer-term (and less resource-intensive) monitoring and maintenance phase. If a department succeeds in its crime-control mission, the heart of its success story will be the collection of project-based accounts, each describing an emerging crime pattern spotted early and dealt with skillfully. The more vigilant the department becomes in spotting emerging problems early, the less available significant crime reductions will be. Aggregate levels of crime may remain low but relatively steady, even as the department works hard to spot new threats before they have a chance to grow out of control.

Whether you’re an officer who wears the badge or a resident who fears the badge this talk is sure to challenge your understanding of what’s possible through law enforcement. As a social worker who now runs a police agency, Derrick Jackson has a unique perspective on bridging the divide between community and the police.

Derrick Jackson serves as the Director of Community Engagement at the Washtenaw County Sherriff’s Office. He comes from a somewhat unlikely background for a law enforcement officer, graduating from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor in Social Work in 1998. While receiving his Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan, Derrick worked with W.J. Maxey Training School where he had his introduction to the criminal justice system. In 2000 he began his work at Ozone House, working closely with at-risk young people in Washtenaw County.

With a background in direct service, community organizing, and politics he continues his commitment to the community by serving on numerous local boards, committees, and by volunteering with several youth programs.