Saturday, February 26, 2011

Community Driven Crime Control (CDCC)

What is Community-Driven Crime Control (CDCC)

CDCC is based on POLICE POWERS AS A SOCIAL RESOURCE THEORY by Professor Kam C. Wong, Xavier University.

CDCC is practiced in Cincinnati communities, since 2007.

Community-Driven Crime Control (CDCC) is a different way of thinking about crime fighting; different than problem-oriented policing (POP), community-oriented policing (COP), and certainly set apart from traditional policing (TP).

What is the dramatic difference from traditional policing and community-orienetd approaches?

(1) It looks at crime as problems;

(2) It looks at problems from the grass-roots and personal perspective;

(3) It looks at police as one of the many social resources;

(4) It puts the community in control of solving problems;

(5) It solves problems with access to information and usable knowledge.

CDCC v. Traditional Policing

How does Community-Driven Crime Control differ from traditional policing or its variants: community-oriented policing, problem-oriented policing?

Answer: The key difference is, "Who's in the driver's seat?"

Community-driven explicitly requires that citizens have control over what local government does to and for their community. With regard to the police, anything short of community-driven is at best community-oriented or problem-oriented. The term "oriented" itself infers that citizens have input, but little or no control over resources or outcomes, because there has been no transfer of responsibility or accountability which remains with the police.
ECONOMICS OF POLICING: Holding police accountable – making street search paid.

Police exist to protect people and secure society. In order to do so, they need to have powers of search and seizure (S & S). To hold the police accountable, S & S are regulated by law.

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides: 'The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Since then, the United States Supreme Court has provided in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) that a police officer (PO) can stop and frisk a person in the street if he has a reasonable suspicion that the person had committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime.

But what if a PO is wrong? What if a PO searches 100 persons and net only one criminal? The PO is routinely wrong – 99% of the time, here!!!!

More troublesomely, what if one PO search 5 persons and comes up with 1 suspect and another PO searches 10 and comes up with none?

My experience as an officer is that street search rarely comes up with suspects or illegal goods, sufficient to justify the intrusion. But S & S does work in ending up wih arrests.

In most cases, street S & S is used to intimidate groups (black in US, gangs in Hong Kong), to show who is in charge (police own the street), to appease fearful public (esp. during crime wave), more so than to deter crime, still less to arrest criminals.

Lastly, how many S & S should be conducted by each PO during one shift? Or how many S & S should be allowed by a police department (PD) in solving a murder vs. rape vs. theft vs. national security case?

From experience and by practice, we know that police would not conduct too many S & S to net a thief but would tape everyone’s phone to net a terrorist. President Bush approved of warrantless search of ALL internet coming in and out of US immediately after 9/11. (Terrorist Surveillance Program)

Currently, the police powers of S & S are grossly abused. There is no systematic and comprehensive study and report of PO S & S hit rates. It would be interesting to compile and publish PO and PD S & S hit rates, as a productivity and accountability measure. Such S & S hit rates can also be used as competitive comparative scores, much like corporate P/E ratio.

More problematically, there is very little innocent citizens can do in the face of a wrong (unreasonable to citizen– reasonable to PO) S & S. Indiscriminate – discriminate TSA – airport searches come to mind. TSA searches millions of people a day. Usually nothing is found.

How can we hold PD and PO accountable in the way they conduct S & S operations?
How can we make PD and PO searches less and hits more? More importantly, how can citizens be protected from “unreasonable ” S & S even if there are legal reasons to search? What I call “unreasonable – reasonable” search.

The answer to the above questions is a simple one. We seek to regulate PO powers to search not only by law but also with economics. We wrongful believe that if the police have a right to search (based on reasonable suspicion), the police search is ipso facto a reasonable, i.e., justified. But a search with reason is not the same as effectiveness search. A reasonable search that turns up nothing is as instructive to the citizen as the one which effective in getting a criminal.

My beginning assumption is that S and S have inherent and hidden costs to individuals (citizen and suspect)and society (police and public).

S & S costs are of two kinds.

First, it takes PO time to execute S & S. Thus, PO should make sure that their search is as productive as possible, each and every time. I was a corporate executive before – salesman is rewarded for productivity per customer transaction. Customers are annoyed by cold calls.

Currently there is no incentive for the PO to conduct cost effective searches. Instead, there is every incentive to conduct blind search to come up with the goods. Thus officers work on the principle that the more one search, the more one gets (blind hit syndrome.) Cost is not a concern.

Second, PO S & S have costs for innocent citizens, from time wasted to privacy deprived to embarrassment incurred. It is just not sufficient to impose cost of reasonable – reasonable searches on citizens, without compensation, other than to say: it is “citizens’ duty” or it is “bad luck” or “I am sorry.”

The solution is to apply economic principles to police work.

PO time is a fixed asset. If a PO searches A, he cannot search B, even if both are reasonably suspected. Which one of the two should a PO search? It depends on which of the two searches turns out to be more economically sound or productive, i.e. benefits (arrest) out weights costs (intrusion). In order to do so, PO should be told that S & S is not costless to PO or public (citizens).

How can we make society, PD and PO think about S & S costs in a meaning way? Before each shift, PD should issue each PO with a S & S coupon book. In the book, each coupon is worth $10 (more or less). That is the cost for the S & S to the PO, PD and society. Every time the PO conducts a search, the citizen would be given one or more S & S coupon, depending on intrusiveness and duration of search, e.g., frisk 1 coupon and search 2, five minutes search 1 couple, more than 5 minutes 2, etc.). In this way, PO has now an incentive to search against S & S coupons, issued for the night, week, and month.

Innocent citizens who are unreasonably – reasonably searched will be compensated.

PD knows how to budget PO time in a more cost effective manner. PO will conduct search in a more reasonable manner. Society is put on notice that powers of police and rights of citizens have actual costs.

If the above economic policing principle is applied to TSA – airport search, our society would realize that the cost of blanket airport search to citizens in the name of safety is unsustainable, or at least prohibitively high. Then the TSA would have more incentive to rethink about productivity and effectiveness of such an approach to secure the airport

What do you think?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

On crime and punishment

On crime and punishment

When asked: “What is crime?”, common people’s first response is that it is a violation of law. But that is not always true. Traffic violations, even serious ones, are not a crime. They are traffic accidents (reckless driving is a tort at heart) or minor indiscretions (speeding depending on circumstances might even be called for).

Some more thoughtful people would say that crime are immoral acts. Here too we find that most of the crimes are not immoral, such as use of drugs or skipping school (for jurveniles).

A few learned people (criminologists) defined crime as deviance, i.e., acts which violate norms or customs. Crime is not in the nature of the act, but process of labeling (Becker). This definition makes crime a political act; crime is what most (some?(Conflict school) people think it is. By this definition, the life style of rich, being of a minority (invented) taste, should be criminal! But they are not. The lifestyle of the poor is selectively punished, e.g., loitering for poor is punished vs. window-shopping for the rich is promoted.

Finally., to formulae an (cognitive) “idea” of crime is not the same as to conjure up an (instinctive) “image” of crime. All people carry with them an image of crime. Crime is harmful. Crime is hurtful. Crime is evil. In most cases, it is the “image” (feeling) of crime generally and not the “idea” (thinking) of crime specifically that dictate our response to crime. In the end “feelings” trumps “thinking”. That is why “retribution” and “incapacitation” not “rehabilitation” or “deterrence” drives penal policy.

Another issue of finding out what crime is, is that we carry with us one image of crime and there are many types of crime by law, murder vs. rape vs. theft, and still more varieties by happenstance, e.g., “hot” under the collar killing vs. “cold” blooded killing. The common law taught that “motive” is not an element of criminal responsibility while “intent” is. To most people in the street (jury) it is the reverse, at least in the liability state (judge).

Having one image of crime – crime is evil: evil by nature (demonic era before 1700), calculative with intent (classical school @1800), savagery in perpetration (positive era @1900), ill serves the purpose of “understanding” crime (in real terms), but helps tremendously with our “response” to crime (as imagined). The question here is whether we want to fight crime sensibly or react to crime sensationally. The more philosophical issue is whether it is more important to fight crime or to address fear of crime. Here, there is no material differences between political regimes (democracy vs. dictatorship), the people’s thirst for blood (in the hand of the criminals) must be avenged for cultural reasons.

A different way of “thinking” and “feeing” about crime.

Crime (antiquity) and later police (1829, before that Greek) is human invented image and institution to deal with a problem; a problem of living in and with uncertainty (KC Wong).

The “problem” of crime is one of dealing with “deprived expectations” of all kinds (Wong), or “unpredictability” of everyday life, more generally “fear of uncertainty” of which “fear of unknown” is the worse kind. (That is why people do not like to die and flock to insurance. That is also why we have contract.)

Without (meaningful) “predictability” (or certitude (a probability function) of certainty (a state of affair of living) we feel insecure – not in the sense of getting hurt, e.g., car accident, which is definable and imaginable, but insecurity of unknown. The worse kind a future that is unknown is that which is unknowable. The worse kind of unknowable is what Rumsfeld famously said “unknown – unknown”: “[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know.”

What do people do when they try to fight off insecurity of “unknown – unknown” or “unknowable – unknowable” (Kam C. Wong”)? We pretend to know and treat all crime as one and the same. We use the past knowns through extrapolation (trend study, reason by analogy, educated guesses, imagination) to deal with the future “unknown” and in cases of what is “unknown – unknown” by speculation.

Punishment becomes a handy tool for all kinds of “expectation” problems, we now called crime.

The strategy to secure the future with a fixed image of “crime” and a knee jerk “punitive” response is that it does not deal with the “problem” nor capable of satisfying “denied expectations” in achieving real security.

The way forward is to know how to handle expectations of a future that is not known, and not knowable by extrapolation, imagination or speculation; or, what we know all along: fear of future is a constant – there is more things out there that we do not know than what we know. “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”

As applied to crime and punishment, this means working on our unrealistic “expectations” of a fixed future (police, insurance etc) but living with realistic “expectations” of an unfolding future (discovery, entrepreneurship, self-renewal).

Monday, February 21, 2011



By Professor Kam C. Wong
Xavier University
Cincinnati, Ohio


“Police power as social resource theory” (SRT), drawing upon Chinese political philosophy (“mass line”) and policing practice (“renmin jingcha”). The SRT addresses three main questions: What is the role and function of the police? What is the relationship of the police with the people? Why do people call the police? SRT (re)conceptualizes crime and police from the perspective of the people, not that of the state. From the people’s perspective crimes are personal problems, while problems are unmet expectations resulting from resource deficiencies and police are social resources make available to the people in solving their own problems. In terms of foundation SRT is a theory of the people, a theory of democratic governance, a theory of empowerment, and a theory of self-help.

Proposition#1: People confront problems routinely some of them are called crime.

Proposition#2: To the people problems of everyday life are unmet expectations, resulting from a lack of resources.

Proposition#3: All problems can be solved by redefining expectations and/or acquiring resources.

Proposition#4: People experience crime as a personal problem not as a legal violation.

Proposition#5: People call the police because they do not have (or unwilling to spare ) the necessary resources to deal with their problems, crime and non-crime.

Proposition#6: Police call the police because they are resources of legitimacy and coercion.

Proposition#7: Police power is a kind of emergency (social) resources made available to the people to solve their problems.

Proposition# 8: The more resources at the disposal of the people the less problem the people will be confronted with.

Proposition#9: The more resources at the disposal of the people the less they have to call on the police when problem (crime) happened.

Proposition#10: The more (adequate and appropriate) resources at the disposal of the police the more effective they are in solving people’s problem.

Proposition#11: The less (adequate and appropriate) resources at the disposal of the police the more likely they will resort to illegal or extra-legal means in solving people’s problem.

Proposition#12: The person who is closest (impact, information, knowledge) to a problem is and should be the person to solve the problem.


“Police” is defined as: “Police is a depository and coordinator of social resources. Police is an all purpose emergency problem solver who is authorized to use “legitimacy” and “coercive” resources to solve people’s problems in a domestic situation and during peaceful time.”

“Problem” is defined as: “An unrealized expectation of wants or needs due to resource deprivation.”

“Resource” is defined as: “Things of all kinds, including to power, time, materials, skills, culture, ideas, and knowledge that can satisfy ones expectations of want and needs.”

“Legitimacy” is defined as: “That which is endorsed, supported and promoted by duly constituted political authority, which illicit intuitive respect and demand obedience.”

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How to improve our highway's speeding problem?

How to improve upon our highway's speeding problem?


The way we deal with speeding in the nations’ highway is inefficient, ineffective, unfair and dangerous.

It is INEFFICIENT because its takes too much time and effort to enforce speeding code violations.

It is INEFFECTIVE because it does not achieve its intended purpose in making people slow down.

It is UNFAIR because many people speed while only the unlucky few get a ticket. It is also UNFAIR because rich people can pay to speed at will.

It is DANGEROUS because traffic police are being exposed to road hazards and drivers’ attack while giving a ticket.


The most efficient way of controlling speeding is to do away with the current traffic - fine system and replace it is with speeding - fee system. Such a system will be based on the idea that speeding is not an immoral crime to be punished but a dangerous act to be controlled.

The best way to control speedy motorists is to progressively charge motorists a speeding fee/mile over and above speed free zone. For example, the speed free zone is under 55. For the first 5 miles over, i.e., 56 to 60, motorists would be charged with a fee of $2 mile. For the next 5 miles, i.e., 61 to 65, the fees would be $4/mile, and so on.

If the motorists drive over a certain speed limit, say 80 over a 55 miles zone, then they are acting recklessly and should be charged criminally, and face jail time.

To facilitate the process, all vehicles on the nation’s highway would be electronically monitored by GPS. Every motorist would have his/her own highway speed deposit (HSD) ($1,000) before venturing on any highway. Money would be automatically draw down when the driver speed beyond the speed free zone. If there is no money in the HSD, the person is not allowed to drive. Much like insurance. HSD is replenished every moth.

This system also save enforcement costs. Highway police officers no longer need to stop drivers for lower end speeding and focus on really dangerous speeders.

People are rational human being. Drivers are economic animal. Thus the most effective way to stop and reduce speeding is by administrative – fees. The reason is a simple one. People have an incentive to slow down when speeding costs money. Fast driving has a cost.

The other good thing about fees per speeding mile is that is promotes rational choice of speed vs. not speed. For those people who has a reason to speed, e.g., get to an appointment, they now can now calculate the cost vs. benefits, and act accordingly.

This system would not be defeated by people who could otherwise afford to pay. The speed fine can be made to base on ones income level (or day fine system). For billionaires, it cost $1000 for per speeding mile.

The most often heard complaint about traffic speeding enforcement is why me? This speed for fee system would do away with such kinds of complaint. Everyone would be required to pay speeding fees, with no exception.

Such a system can be made fairer by adjusting the free speeding zone according to the average speed people are doing. In essence if everyone (majority) of the people were speeding on I-90 to go home before the storm hits, the average speed of the time would be made the de facto speed limit for fee charging purpose. In essence, excessive traffic speeding fees would only be charged over and above the average speed by all motorists travelling along a certain route. For example, normal speed is 55 MPH. If Friday after work hour speed by 75% of the motorists are 65 MPH, the de facto speed limit is now 65 not 55 MPH, before you would be asked to pay a fee.

The two most dangerous moments of highway traffic enforcement are: (1) Officer stepping onto a busy highway. There is a chance he might be run over. (2) Officer confronting irate drivers or dangerous criminals. They might get shot or assaulted. By making traffic speeding an administrative fees exercise, the highway cops no longer need to stop any motorists and risking their life in the line of duty.

How to rescue social security

How to recue social security (SS)?

Our SS system (SSS) is going broke. People are not in agreement as to how to fix it. I have a simple solution. It is based on my life long conviction (now made into a policing theory – “STATE POLICE POWERS AS A SOCIAL RESOURCE THEORY”) that: “The person who is closest to a problem is and should be the person to solve the problem.” Since retirement is a very person matter, the retiree, not the government, should take care of it. That is to observe that the retiree is the closest person to his/her retirement problem, not the US government.

How can one solve the SS problem, now in dire financial straight? More importantly, looking ahead, how can our younger generation invests and saves up for the future? For this we can learn from the Chinese. The Chinese invest in their children to secure their own future (retirement.) How can it work in the US, legally? More specifically, how can we set up a SSS based on our investment in our children?

We can set up an “Inter-generation SSS” (IGSSS) in the following way:

(1) Every US citizen will have an IGSSS account kept by the US federal government.

(2) Each time the IGSSS account holder pays money for his/her child subsistent, welfare and education the amount will be recorded in an IGSSS account book. An IGSSS account book is just like a bank savings account book. IGSSS account is your investment account for your future retirement. IGSSS account is interest bearing.

(3) The US Congress would make IGSSS laws providing for the following;

(3.1) Upon retirement (or emergency), the IGSSS account holder can draw down the account, if he/she so choose.

(3.2) An IGSSS account holder can draw upon the account if his/her son/daughter is otherwise gainfully employed/rich. If not a retiree is out of luck. (This is an incentive for parents to properly invest in their kids, such as giving them a good education and providing them with life long lessons.)

(4) IGSSS payment would be made by the US government and taken out of

sons/daughters paychecks. (The current SS Office can do this.) The US government can certainly sue to recover the IGSSS payment.

(5) A non US government option is to create a cause of action for the retiring

parents to sue their well to do children who prefer to go on a cruise instead of repaying their parents for their education.

How to save the SSS now and in between time the IGSSS is being set up? The US Congress can create a legal cause of action for parents to sue kids for their investment in their kids.

The IGSSS has much to offer our nation, starting with putting the responsibility of retirement on the shoulder of the family, not government. It also teaches people to invest in their kids and take care of their parents. There are just too many people these days who think of themselves first and last without worrying about their moral (now legal) duties of taking care of their family.