USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station
Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
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Research Topics

Recreation: Behaviors and Conflict

Successful Law Enforcement: Case Studies in the U.S. Forest Service

Since 1997 Debbie Chavez (PSW) and Jo Tynon (Oregon State University) have been examining the types and impacts of crime and violence on public lands. Recent efforts looked at three successful cases of managing crime and violence in order to develop a toolbox of key characteristics of success.

The first case study examined a site that was recovered from criminal elements/crime or violent events; in the second we examined best practices of crime prevention that primarily addressed excellence in communication; and in the third one we examined hot spots and hot issues. Common to all sites were problems such as assaults and drug and alcohol abuse. Other problems identified were gang activity or extremist groups, resource damage, thefts and homicide. In the first two case studies there were watershed or breaking point events that led to action. The call to action was not always precipitated by one of these events; sometimes it was a series of problems or seemingly intractable ones that preceded action.

At all three sites specific actions included adding law enforcement, having closures as needed (and for as long as necessary) and checkpoints. The key characteristics of success in law enforcement were: (1) Force of Personalities-- Attention to an area depended upon individuals not on policies; (2) Resources-- expressed as time, money and people. This can also include direct visitor management and resource hardening. (3) Persistence-- It takes a lot of planning, and the process is slow; (4) Collaboration-- Collaboration and partnering within the Forest Service, with other law enforcement agencies, with community and volunteer groups, and with recreation visitors and recreation clubs, and (5) Communication-- Communication varied depending on the issue being addressed though some key components were to make a communication plan, get the word out to the public, be reliable and be consistent.

Seeing families returning and recreating in an area was considered a measure of success. Using these tools and following the guidelines from these case studies should result in successful management of crime and violence on public lands.

Publications and Products related to this subject:

Chavez, D.; Tynon, J.; Knap, N. 2004. Reducing crime and violence on public lands: Case studies in the USDA Forest Service. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 22, 3, 22-38.

Chavez, D.; Tynon, J.; Knap, N. 2003. Successful law enforcement: Case studies in the U.S. Forest Service. Unpublished report. Riverside, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. 37 p.

Research conducted by:
Last Modified: Aug 29, 2016 11:05:03 AM