The Giant Chessboard – The Challenge of Criminal Strongholds

Fighting crime is much like a game of chess. Imagine that your jurisdiction is a giant chess board where a war of sorts is being waged. Just like in a real war, or a real game of chess, our opponents (the criminals) are trying to take ground.

When they become entrenched in a neighborhood and rule through fear and intimidation, they have established a criminal stronghold. From here, criminals will branch out into other neighborhoods, commit their evil deeds, and retreat back into the safety of the stronghold.

There are several strategies the we as police administrators might employ to deal with this community problem. One is the Reactive ModelĀ of policing. We can assign police officers to patrol the other neighborhoods, hoping that we might stumble across some criminal in the act of committing a crime, or discourage one from doing so by our “presence” in the neighborhood. As the saying goes, I suppose even a blind squirrel can find a nut every now and then. But this proves to be a very ineffective crime fighting strategy and a poor use of our limited law enforcement resources.

The community policing or coactive policing model dictates that law enforcement must penetrate the stronghold to destroy the fear, apathy, and tolerance for crime that the criminals are relying on. Building trust based relationships through the power of good character is the key to this process. This is the truly effective crime-fighting strategy that we explore here.