University of Wisconsin law Prof. Herman Goldstein has won the 2018 Stockholm Prize in Criminology. Jurors called him the world’s most influential scholar on modern police strategy. They said, “His work has prompted police to focus more on improving the overall outcomes of police work and less on traditional tasks that may have little public benefit. The essence of his critique was that policing was not sufficiently focused on accomplishing specific goals connected to specific problems.” Since the publication of Goldstein’s Problem-Oriented-Policing (POP) strategy in 1979, police increasingly have moved towards identifying patterns of repeated events with similar features. The focus enables police to take aim at measurable problems, rather than just dealing with each incident or case in isolation.
In its 2004 report on police research, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences hailed Goldstein’s strategy as a “paradigm shift.” The report documented the many strands of police innovation that had developed from Goldstein’s work, with promising lines of inquiry and improvement for such patterned problems as drunk drivers, sex offenders, domestic abuse, hot spots of crime, burglary and gang violence. Among the most promising applications of the problem-oriented approach are those addressing chronic and serious violence. In the late 1990s, Boston police and Harvard researchers applied a POP approach to controlling gang violence known alternately as “pulling levers” or “focused deterrence.” A 2008 systematic review by the Campbell Collaboration found 5,500 reports on uses of POP in police agencies. Goldstein has been affiliated with the University of Wisconsin Law School since 1964. From 1960 to 1964, he served as executive assistant to the head of the Chicago Police Department, O.W. Wilson.