Forum #5: Discuss what is the SARA process? And analyze how is it used in crime analysis?
This week we learned about the SARA process used in crime analysis. SARA is an acronym for scanning, analysis, response, and assessment. This is the problem-solving process that is used by crime analysts for the purpose of studying long-term problems and improving problem-oriented policing. Long-term problems are sets of issues that occur over the course of several months, seasons or years that are the result of systematic opportunities that are created from everyday environment and behavior. These types of problems include problem victims, property, offenders, and compound problems.
Scanning – Scanning is the first step of the SARA problem-solving process. This step involves the identification of problems that are recurrent and of concern to the police as well as the public. Once the problems are identified they are prioritized by severity and selected to be analyzed. However, selecting problems for examination is not conducted by crime analysts. Police personnel are responsible for selecting what problems to examine. Crime analysts only assist personnel in the selection by providing them with information such as crime disorder and crime and arrest statistics. This allows police to identify and prioritize important issues within their jurisdiction. Another big factor that assists in the selection of problems is information resulting from police-community relations such as the input from citizens through surveys, interviews and other forms of community outreach.
Analysis – Analysis is the second step of the SARA problem-solving process. This step involves researching the known information regarding the specifically chosen type of problem as well as determining which route to take in the understanding of the local context of the problem and determining the current state in which that problem is being addressed within a particular jurisdiction. Once this information is established, then the process of developing hypotheses can begin in order to speculate why the activity is a problem and why it is occurring. Data is then collected in order to test the hypotheses and conclusions regarding causes of the particular problem are made by conducting statistical analysis.
Response – Response is the third step of the SARA problem-solving process and involves the identification of realistic responses based on success from other communities, POP guides, and situation crime prevention techniques. Analysts then take this information along with results and information that is collected during the analysis step of the process, and use the information to design and select new response ideas. After the response method is chosen, objectives are established, and responsible personnel are identified, police personnel can begin the activities.
Police personnel are more involved in the response step of the process than crime analysts are. This is because the use of crime analysis is relatively minimal other than conducting further analysis in order to assist in prioritizing and directing the responses. The main goal of the response step is to allow authorities to design solutions for the purpose of reducing the problem, better dealing with the problem, eliminate the problem, remove the problem from police consideration, and/or reduce the amount of harm that is created by the problem.
Assessment – Assessment is the fourth and final step of the SARA problem- solving process. This step involves the examination and determination of whether or not the responses to the specific problem were successful. When making this determination, there are two primary factors that need to considered. The first factor of consideration, and important step to conduct, is referred to as process evaluation. Because it is common that a plan may not be implemented as it was intended, it is beneficial to determine if and how the specific response plan was implemented in order to establish which, if any, goals were achieved during the process. This also include determining which activities were and were not conducted. The second factor of consideration, and important step to conduct during the assessment step, is referred to
as impact evaluation. This step involves the examination of data that was collected before the response(s) were implemented and comparing the information with the relevant measurements collected after the response was implemented. This is procedure is crucial in making the determination of whether or not the responses that were
implemented either eliminated or at least reduced the problem.