Herman Goldstein, a professor emeritus at the UW-Madison Law School whose theories on effective policing in free societies have been applied by police agencies around the world, was named Tuesday as the winner of the prestigious 2018 Stockholm Prize in Criminology.
An international jury for the Stockholm Prize called the 85-year-old Goldstein, who joined the UW Law School in 1964, the world’s most influential scholar on modern police strategy. His Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) strategy, including pioneering work at deterring crime, is widely credited with curbing violent crime and other offenses, according to a statement from the jury issued through Stockholm University.
The Stockholm Prize has been awarded at a ceremony in Sweden since 2006 and honors outstanding achievements in criminology research and the applications of research for the reduction of crime and the advancement of human rights. There have been 21 previous winners, including 11 Americans. The prize sum is 1 million Swedish krona, or about $119,000.
Goldstein became an expert on policing despite never having been a police officer, lawyer or criminologist.
“I found it an extraordinary intellectual challenge to understand the police and their very complicated function and having to deal with so many diverse, varied tasks. I can’t think of an occupation that has a greater challenge,” he said.
Goldstein was especially elated to win the prize because he said it honored his concepts that showed that criminologists, police and local governments can work effectively together. His concepts also opened doors for rank-and-file officers because their success often depended on their previously untapped knowledge and expertise, Goldstein said.
“I think the community stands to gain from that and the police officers stand to gain from that in the sense that they get some satisfaction in solving these problems and contributing to the refinement to the responses,” he said.
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval said Madison has been “truly blessed” to have Goldstein in the area as a member of the UW Law School faculty. “He was the only non-lawyer in their midst at the pinnacle of his research and publication days,” Koval wrote in his blog Tuesday. “I give the UW huge plaudits for having had the progressive vision to acknowledge the role of police in a free society and understanding that the police have to be studied as the proverbial `gatekeepers’ to the entire criminal justice system.”
UW Law School Dean Margaret Raymond said Goldstein’s work at the Law School embodies learning, teaching and studying the law, not just as it is written but as it is experienced.
“Professor Goldstein’s books on policing are renowned classics of his field, and his work continues to inform and advance contemporary thought and best practices on policing,” she said in a statement.
One of the most notable applications of Goldstein’s strategy occurred in Boston in the late 1990s when Boston police and Harvard researchers helped stem gang violence through “focused deterrence,” which combined the support and control over known violent offenders by courts, families, community and church leaders, and social service providers.
“The tactics of these partners tried to persuade violent offenders to either desist from violence or expect a wide range of negative consequences,” the Stockholm Prize statement said. “This approach was followed by substantial homicide reductions in Boston, far beyond expectations.”
Since then, the approach has been copied in dozens of other cities in the U.S. and abroad, the statement said.
In 2008, a Norwegian government-supported review found over 5,500 reports on the use of Problem-Oriented Policing around the world. The study found “an overwhelmingly positive impact of POP.”
The jury also recognized Goldstein’s lifetime of pioneering work on broader police issues such as discretion, political accountability, corruption, how police function in society and their relationships to the criminal-justice system.
From 1960 to 1964, Goldstein served as an executive assistant to O.W. Wilson, the head of the Chicago Police Department whose main task was reforming Chicago police after a major scandal. Prior to that, Goldstein was an investigator and analyst of police departments in many of the country’s biggest cities for the American Bar Foundation survey of the U.S. criminal justice system. He is a graduate of the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.
The prize ceremony will take place in June in Sweden. Goldstein plans to attend with his family.