The Bergen County Parks Department is an organization that has two primary functions. The first one deals with the division of the parks and recreational areas, while the second manages cultural and historical matters. In the recent years, there was a sharp decline in the attendance of the parks under the Bergen County’s management. Specifically, it was influenced by the increase in crime rate in the parks and the consequent danger people walking and working there faced.
The main purpose of the study is to research the correlation between the crime rate and the quality of facilities in the parks. The investigation aims to prove that the degree of people’s sense of security and anxiety depends on the level of lighting and presence of the surveillance systems in the recreational areas. With the application of the qualitative approach, the research will reveal the behavioral patterns of the parks’ visitors before and after the installation of the facilities and the degree of involvement of the police officers. Through the disguised observation, it will be possible to collect data without bias and distortion, with consideration of the ethical issues.
At the end of the research, according to the conducted experiments, it will become possible to establish the proper reasons that can explain the high crime rate. Therefore, the relevant recommendations will be developed, addressed to the administrative bodies of the Bergen County Parks Department. The summarized proposals lie in the improvement of standards of comfort for both visitors and the staff. Specifically, the major pieces of advice will highlight the importance of the installation of lampposts, surveillance systems, waste bins, and of setting police posts around the parks’ territories. The implementation of these recommendations is expected to decrease the level of crime actions and provide people with a sufficient degree of security in the recreational areas.
Public and recreational centers are significant public amenities. It is because of the fact that they are essential in shaping the quality of life for people and future generations. The significance of these recreational spaces is especially perceptible in the urban areas. Groff and McCord (2022) opine that this is because these areas are full of tall buildings which leave little space for children to play or for adults to exercise and enjoy each other’s company outside the confines of their apartments. Thus, parks and recreational centers have emerged as useful in promoting a healthy living by encouraging people to lead an active lifestyle. This encouragement lies in providing people with the necessary resources and space for running, cycling, and walking, as well as for playing games.
According to Peterson and Hronek (2021), young children are able to run around and engage in games such as skipping rope, baseball, and volleyball. Thus, parks and recreational centers are appropriate for leisure as well. This becomes especially clear during the activities like nature walks and while visiting historical sites. These recreational spaces are also useful for field trips for young children. The Bergen County Parks, which is a pertinent part of the Bergen County, is an organization that charges for running the parks and recreational centers of this county and for ensuring that they are able to fulfill the aforementioned needs.
The Bergen County Parks Department Organizational Background
While the organizational fundament of the Bergen County Parks Department does not function with regard to its historical development, the organization itself has emerged as being fundamental to the Bergen community. BCDP (2016a) postulates that this organization has two main sections. The first section deals with the division of parks, while the second is the cultural and historic affairs section. It implies that the parks and recreational centers run by this organization offer activities related to park use and exploration of the history of the Bergen County. The main responsibility of this organization is the management of all parks and recreational centers, found in the Bergen County. According to BCDP (2020), the total area that these parks and recreational centers occupy reaches approximately 9000 acres of land. This area is a form of an extraordinary park and recreational system, which provides people with the various recreational facilities, equipment, and spaces, used by those visiting the county. The example of the most common services that the parks and recreational centers provide includes picnics, jogging, hiking, golfing, swimming, and visits to historical sites and zoos. In order to fulfill its role of managing the parks and recreational centers, this organization embraces the responsibility for permission issues, as well as for charging fees for usage of the services that it offers to people.
In order to gain further and deeper understanding of the parks and recreational system managed by this organization, it is important to regard a number of key features. The system encompasses a zoo that is nationally accredited, 21 parks, various horse-riding areas, and different historical sites, as asserted by BCDP (2020). The areas have been essential in encouraging people to visit the Bergen parks and recreational centers. Besides issuing permits, the responsibility of the Bergen County Parks Department is also to manage the length of operations of the recreational spaces. Therefore, this organization determines when the parks and recreational centers open and close.
For instance, the parks usually open at 7:30 am and progress with operations until half an hour after the sunset, according to BCDP (2022). There is, however, no protocol for all parks and recreational centers. It is explained by the fact that such places as camping sites tend to be open for the night. Overall, the Bergen County Parks Department is responsible for the maintenance and expansion of the facilities in the parks and recreational centers. It is also responsible for their funding and security management.
The particular concern that is to be addressed by the proposed Capstone research is the lack of safety in parks and recreational centers because of poor lighting and surveillance, as it relates to the Bergen County Parks Department. Therefore, the prevalence of crimes in these recreational spaces is a cause for worry since it is causing more and more people to refrain from visiting these places. Groff and McCord (2022) believe that it means that the safety and security of people in these recreational spaces are often omitted. For an organization such as the Bergen County Parks Department, it means that the organization has failed miserably in its mandate in facilitating the wellbeing of people visiting its parks and recreational centers.
The one factor that has caused parks and recreational centers to become a hub for those committing crime is the notion that these places belong to everyone while at the same time belonging to no particular person. This is the reason why parks and recreational centers have minimal intrinsic guardianship and are thus easily susceptible to being used for criminal activities, endangering the lives of both users and staff. Groff and McCord (2012) name some of the acts that take place in parks which have caused them to become criminal centers, namely the trade of drugs and the overall conditions of the places being a safe haven for juveniles. It is vital to mention that there have been some more serious issues taking places at recreational centers that have further emphasized the lack of safety there. Peterson and Hronek (2021) identify some of these issues as including the increased cases of mugging, violent robberies, and rape. Other less serious, but still worrying activities include vandalism, physical and verbal fights, and poor sanitation which endangers the health of people in these places. A large number of studies attribute the issue of increased insecurity to many factors. However, in the proposed Capstone research, the focus will be placed on poor lighting and inadequate surveillance as the primary factors leading to increased crimes in parks and recreational centers. The failure to develop effective programs that can facilitate the implementation of successful measures for sufficient lighting and adequate surveillance protocol is a major weakness of the Bergen County Parks Department.
While parks and recreational centers such as those managed by the Bergen County Parks Department remain a fundamental part of any society and community, they become threatened by the wave of crime. In this regard, the nature of parks and recreational centers is changing. In the past, these recreational places served for enjoyment that could be found in sports, picnics, camping, and in the parks being the place where one could visit in order to have peaceful time or to meet up with friends. Today the parks and recreational centers have become a place to fear instead of wanting to spend free time at, and the increase in insecurity is the main reason for this. Consequently, many people started to refrain from visiting parks due to the fear for their lives. A lot of muggings, physical attacks, rape cases, gunshots, drug activities, and vandalism happen, compromising the safety. Therefore, there is a need to start taking actions, and this research explores the issue of insecurity and makes suggestions aimed to alleviate it.
Why Are the Parks Susceptible to Criminal Activities?
The key point of the increased level of crimes in the parks is that they do not have a private owner. Consequently, the public parks and recreational centers can be described as everyone’s property, but at the same time, they belong to no one (Groff & McCord, 2012). Also, as public resources, they have very limited intrinsic guardianship. This element makes them susceptible to various undesirable acts that make them unsafe. In a similar manner, Welsh, Farrington, and Taheri (2015) in their study agree that because the parks are public objects as opposed to private ones, they are in many instances perceived as places that are easily found and used for dubious activities. The reasons also include the presence of living spaces for homeless people, the occurrence of markets for dealers of drugs, and conditions suitable for safe havens for juveniles. These problems have become exceedingly common for the parks and recreation centers that the Bergen County Parks Department manages. Therefore, within this kind of situation, parks in their current condition cause fear in the potential legitimate visitors.
The Accidents that Endanger the Park Users
Sarhana, Farghalya, and Elsayed (2021) have noticed that the incidents occurring at parks and recreational facilities have elevated the issue of safety of users of these spaces. Moreover, McCormack, Rock, Toohey, and Hignell (2010) specify that the growing problem of shootings and robberies at various recreational facilities, as well as the increased rates of muggings and rapes, affect the safety level of the areas. Confirming this, Groff and McCord (2012) claim that the parks have become hot spots for crimes and different criminal activities, such as drug dealing and sexual violence. In comparison with the previous surveys, Peterson and Hronek (2021) identify some of less severe events happening at parks, such as vandalism acts, after hour trespassing cases, fights, physical assaults directed toward staff, and poor sanitation. The researchers mention that these accidents endanger the health of both users and staff members.
The Factors which Decrease the Safety Level
Sarhana et al. (2022) identify the factors which increase the degree of danger in the parks. Such components as poor lighting, lack of maintenance of trails, deterioration of the facilities, deficient heating and conditioning cause a lack of safety of people who visit or serve the parks. Furthermore, McCormack, Rock, Toohey, and Hignell (2021) in their studies look deeper into the roots of the issue. They connect the lack of security with irrelevant video surveillance, poor draining systems, insufficient sidewalk safety, insufficient means of forging complaints, and negligence in the maintenance of bushes and park trails. McCormack, Rock, Toohey, and Hignell (2010) and Sarhana et al. (2022) have found the key reasons for the growing level of unsafety in the recreational areas. The first study blames the absence of security programs, while the second mentions overcrowding and insufficient trash cleaning that these facilities and centers use.
It is essential to note that Bergen County Parks Department deals with the areas that contain all of the identified aforementioned factors. Sarhana et al. (2022) connects the current increase in crime with the significant amount of idleness among the young visitors, as well as with drug distribution activities and poor maintenance of the facilities. While developing a proper solution, the study suggests exploring the nature of the security problems and the extent to which they have affected the users, as well as the staff of these parks.
The Influence of Perception on the Crime Rate
There also exists a common belief that the parks and recreation centers are dangerous, which enhances the unsafety of these areas for the users (Peterson & Hronek, 2021). Advancing this thought, studies by McCormack, Rock, Toohey, and Hignell (2020) and Welsh et al. (2023) focus on two main points. The first aspect describes how the visitors perceive the parks, and the second one deals with the perception of the offenders regarding these facilities. However, in doing so, these studies fail to test whether the perceived connection between recreational zones and safety serves as an evidence of the increased official crime rate or if the rates are determined by police calls that provide data concerning this question.
The Impact of Accidents on the People near the Parks
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From the viewpoint of burglary rates, Sarhana et al. (2020) link the level of unsafety in the parks with the percentage of robberies in the various communities, due to their physical and social attributes. Peterson and Hronek (2021) confirm this theory, providing the observation of crimes and police calls rate. Consequently, it results in the conclusion that there is a considerably high crime and police calls rate, all coming from homes adjacent to parks. The observation of these studies confirms the fact that the problem of safety related to parks and other recreational spaces influences not only people who are directly inside these objects. The point is that the effect of the insecurity in the form of high crime rate causes harm to people who simply live near the recreational spaces.
Understanding the Seriousness of the Issue
According to the large scale of the problem of security at parks and recreational centers, the dangerous nature of these spaces has made them unsafe for the visitors. Therefore, safety has developed into a top priority issue (Peterson & Hronek, 2021). The result of this can be found in the application of the considerable amount of resources to research area, as well in the community engagement activities, conducted in an attempt to improve the security situation of the facilities. Sarhana et al. (2022) also highlight the response of the management teams of parks affected by the high crime wave, and make the assertion that most of these teams have already realized the need to address the issue of security and public safety. Consequently, there has been an increased shift toward the achievement of meaningful and positive results for the visitors as well as the staff of the parks and recreation facilities.
The Importance of Proper Facilities and Competent Staff in the Parks
The studies, exploring the security risks that exist in the parks and in recreational spaces, have illustrated different cases of compromising of the issue of security. For instance, Groff and McCord (2022) correlate the lack of facilities with the growth of the level of unsafety. The most necessary equipment is lighting, security cameras, and maintenance in these recreational spaces. The lack of these things has largely contributed to the rise of anti-social behavior, and thus generated the feelings of fear and unease among the users of parks. The researchers believe that the issue of public safety at parks elicits a comprehensive list of concerns for the management of these objects. This observation also explains the reasons why many residents of Bergen County are losing interest in their parks and recreational facilities. The high crime rate there has made many of them anxious about visiting these places. Welsh et al. (2023), on the other hand, illustrate the possibility of compromise in regard to safety by exploring the role of the staff of the recreational centers. Within this context, the findings state that the parks and recreational facilities that have an adequate, competent, and attentive staff tend to experience less cases of crimes. However, it is not mentioned that the psychological level of insecurity may seriously influence the overall performance and productivity of people working in the parks and different recreational territories.
To develop a profound research and collect the data accurately, the investigators need to compose the plan of the study in details. Primarily, the experimenters have to structure the work in a logical manner to avoid the extra expenditures and fruitless spending of time. The next step has to determine the purpose of the research and accordingly divide it into smaller parts. The study on the parks and recreational centers is close in the meaning to a naturalistic observation without the direct intervention. It also has the features of a cohort study, because the research aims to prove the linkage between two variables: the degree of light in the parks in the evening and their attendance by the visitors, as well as the presence of cameras or police officers in the parks and the quality of the staff’s performance. Moreover, the research has similar characteristics with the blind experiment, because the groups of people are unaware that they are under observation. The application of this technique provides people with impartiality and helps to avoid possible misconceptions based on bias (Shuttleworth, 2022).
Consequently, the exact definition of the variables that are intended to be observed and fundamental characteristics of the research will contribute to a further clarification of the process of the study and to the avoidance of extra work or fruitless spending of resources.
The lack of guarantees of the safety of the parks and recreational areas such as those which Bergen County Parks Department manages is an emerging issue that needs addressing. The motivation for selecting Bergen County Parks Department as a capstone topic lies in the fact that there has been a rise in the rate of crime among the visitors. Many joggers in the park have become the victims of rape, while other visitors have experienced mugging and robbery. According to Groff and McCord (2022), parks and recreational facilities are no longer the places that people can go to enjoy themselves. Instead, they have become the sources of fear and anxiety for the visitors and communities to which they belong. Furthermore, they are no longer the most enjoyable places to work at, since poor safety standards have endangered the lives of the employees. Consequently, the main problem under the investigation in the proposed capstone paper is a lack of security and safety of people within the parks and recreational centers that are run by Bergen County Parks Department. Also, Sarhana et al. (2020) make the assertion that it is essential to find a solution to this problem, and parks have to revert to their initial purpose of being the places where people can relax and spend a good day at without fear.
Overall Research Method
To make a deeper analysis of the described problem, the observers have to determine the most appropriate scientific method which will enable them to establish the most accurate outcomes. Thus, the appropriate approach will help to regulate the experiment and to gather the data accurately. Within the proposed capstone research project, the selected overall research method is a qualitative one. The justification of the use of this approach lies in the fact that the scientists usually reserve it for the use in the social fields of knowledge. Furthermore, this research deals with the human behavior. Due to Dr. Collins (n. d.), this type of the study can be defined as an action one.
Moreover, the qualitative method is more convenient to apply within the parameters of interpretation of the developed research questions. Consequently, the usage of this approach in the observation study provides people with the relevant answers to the set queries. There are many points that have to be considered in terms of the application of the qualitative method. Firstly, it is worth mentioning that this kind of research is supposed to use a detail-oriented technique of data collection, as well as the fixed schedule of the observation of the parks’ visitors. Secondly, the mentioned social issue is quite a sensitive one, and that is why making observations in regard to parks will enable people to collect the precise data.
Considering the aforementioned facts, this method is the most effective one because it can help to decrease and restructure a problem that has a complex nature due to the limited number of variables. The qualitative method, functioning in regard to math counting, is time-consuming, but not as expensive as a qualitative one. However, this approach demands a high level of responsibility from the investigators because of the choosing of the proper data collection methods.
It is vital to mention that the particular qualitative approach to this study is a phenomenological one, because it encompasses the exploration of people’s behavior under various conditions described further. The reason for this lies in the fact that the research deals with different security levels of the residents who live nearby and of citizens who visit parks and recreational centers.
Research Questions and Qualitative Outcomes
To specify the behavioral observation, it is important to mention that the observations will be disguised. It is a kind of technique when subjects are unaware that they are under observation (Parasuraman, Grewal, & Krishnan, 2021). Therefore, the strongest point of this tool is that the respondents will not change their behavior intentionally. It enables researchers to collect the accurate data and to reduce the error possibility.
Accordingly, the research questions are as follows:
- Does the lightning level influence the attendance of the parks and recreational areas by the citizens?
- What are the emotions and face expressions of the visitors of County Parks Department’s areas, and can people be happier with the increased level of security in the parks?
- Can the upgrade of the working conditions raise the quality of work and the productivity of the staff of the parks?
- Do parents allow their children to play in the recreational centers on their own? How often do they leave the kids alone without worrying?
Giving a reply to these queries will help to explore and clarify the behavioral patterns of the visitors in the parks and reveal some common features in their actions. Thus, by observing the line of conduct of the individuals, the research will develop the recommendations in order to improve the general image of the areas and recreational centers under the Bergen County Parks Department’s management.
Specifically, by observing the density of visitors in the parks and by establishing its connection to the number of lampposts, it is possible to learn the behavioral variable of the visitors. Consequently, this part of the research will appeal to the parks’ executives and the Department itself, urging them to raise the level of light in the evenings. Completing this action is supposed to improve the degree of safety of the visitors and their attitudes toward the parks.
The second question deals with the attitudinal variable of the observed group. The researchers will carefully look at the face expressions of the individuals and note the emotions with which they are walking at the parks. The main point lies in the exploration of the psychological aspect of people’s opinions about the recreational centers. To prove the importance of changing the environmental conditions throughout the parks, the researchers have to compare people’s emotions before and after cleaning the rubbish, constructing the lampposts, and setting up cameras around the territories.
In regard to the third query, the changes will diversify the analysis and provide researchers with the connection between the workers’ esteem of security of the parks and their performance. It is quite evident that a terrified person, afraid of being murmured, can not work productively because of the continual thought of becoming a victim. Even with the best facilities and the highest salaries, this individual will tend to leave the place of work earlier and do all the duties quicker. As it follows, the absence of police and poor lightning in the late working hours endanger not only the guests of the parks, but also the personnel working there.
Finally, the last question focuses on the comfort of parents who attend the recreational centers and on their anxiety in regard to their children. The first function of the parks is to present a perfect place for rest to people. However, with the increased crime rate in these areas, the level of the parental control over their children grows and the adults feel more nervous and uncomfortable. Consequently, children and teenagers accept it as the limitation of their freedom and do not want parents to observe them. Therefore, the deep analysis of this problem confirms that the unsafe environmental conditions in the parks create a misunderstanding between the adults and young generation.
Overall, to conduct the observation and develop the proper solutions to the existing problem, it is efficient to reply to the questions above. Collecting the attitudinal and behavioral types of variables will help to research the different aspects of the issue and to develop relevant recommendations.
Significance of the Proper Data Collection Technique
Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the application of an observational method will help to identify its peculiarities in regard to the researched field and to diminish the possible errors. There are several positive features of this approach which are described below.
Firstly, the disguised observation provides researchers with the precise data about the behavior of both individuals and groups. The researchers will conduct a survey on their own, establishing the behavioral patterns with the help of the primary source. Consequently, it prevents the transmission expenditures and possible loss of the meaningful data.
The second reason for superiority of the chosen method is about providing the researchers with the chance to identify the unanticipated consequences during the observation. In this way, the study will account the real interferences and adjust the final recommendations according to the possible hindrances. The next advantage of this technique directly coheres with the previous one and lies in its organized, adjustable, and structured background. The monitored individuals will not suspect of being observed, and consequently, they will behave in a natural manner.
It is also significant to consider the disadvantages of the disguised approach. The primary disadvantage is the necessity of highly qualified observers, because they should not look suspicious in the eyes of the parks’ visitors. Additionally, the experimenters have to be aware of the topic and of the main aim of the research. As a result, hiring the specially trained professionals may demand a remarkable sponsorship. Another disadvantage to consider is an individual perception of each of the viewer. In comparison with the quantitative approach, with the usage of figures, it would be easier to avoid the subjectivity during the research, so the observers have to be careful about their impressions in order not to distort the collected information.
There can also be the problem of an atypical behavior of the monitored individuals, which will make the process of data generalization more difficult. People walking in the parks have different origins and income levels, so it will be quite problematic to define the general features of their behavior.
Consequently, the awareness of the pros and cons of the chosen technique of data collection will promote its improvement in order to get the accurate data without distortion. Furthermore, the profound analysis of the approach will help to adapt the research to the peculiarities of the monitored group as well as of the observers.
The primary purpose of analyzing data is to get useful information that can explain the relationships between variables and predict the outcomes. To organize the investigation properly, it is important to define the stages of the analysis. The process starts with the data structuring and organization. Then it is necessary to reduce the amount of information by summarizing and categorizing it. The final step includes comparing variables and linking the patterns revealed during the research in order to find the dependency between them (Kawulich, 2004).
The application of the analytical technique in the study on the parks and recreational centers has to combine a variety of strategies. According to Maxwell (2021), the most crucial ones fall into three groups: categorizing techniques — coding and the analysis of the topic, connecting strategies — narrative tools and case explorations, and some displays performed in order to conduct discussions. These methods can be applicable in either a combined or a separate way. Additionally, the experimenters can make the sketches after the first days of the study and divide the drafts into the smaller ones, in order to research the field more profoundly. During the study, the observers may reinforce or simplify the outlines according to the renewed data. It will also not be superfluous to describe the social processes and interactions between the visitors of the parks run by Bergen County Parks Department. Specifically, the research itself will be based on the perception of the parks’ facilities by the citizens and on the relationships between different groups of visitors.
Before analyzing the observed results, the experts need to agree on the coding process and its interpretation. It is the prior categorizing strategy in the qualitative research. According to Maxwell (2011), to generate the categories correctly, there is a necessity to define all five steps of coding the data. First, the observers have to decide on the label or name of the pattern, then they have to determine the characteristic features that concern the study. The third element is to describe the ways of knowing when to code the information, while also specifying if this kind of data is adequate. After the specification, the experts have to define possible exceptions among the patterns. In this study, the exclusions concern the atypical behavior of the individuals, so it is efficient to determine the unnecessary patterns which will not be taken into consideration during the research. Consequently, the fifth stage of the coding process lies in listing the instances of the exceptions, both positive and negative ones, in order to reduce data distortion.
It is also important to apply a matrix structuring technique to link the research queries and methods. The experts have to create a table, listing the aforementioned questions and the components of the approaches used to answer them. The usage of these methods will be quite helpful in establishing whether the methods will assist in responding to the questionnaires or not. After that, the experts should define how each method would help to answer the set questions, organizing the process of data analysis logically and reducing the possible transaction costs (Maxwell, 2021).
To obtain the anticipatory results and draw the conclusions about the observed populations, the group of investigators needs to conduct a sampling procedure. In this way, the experimenters will analyze the behavior of visitors in the one park instead of researching each park in Bergen County. Such an approach will help to minimize the expenditures and the amount of work during the study. As a result, the right choice for the elements of the sample plays a detrimental role in the research. According to Northcote (2022), there are three types of sampling: probability, purposive, and no-rule sampling. In the first case, each element has almost the same possibility of being chosen, but the second type aims to select the representative sample that best characterizes the subject of the study. At the same time, no-rule sampling does not have any limitations or selection bias.
In the research about the parks and recreational centers, it would be relevant to choose the commonly used probability sampling. There are many ways in which this kind of method can be applicable. However, for the study itself, simple random sampling would be the most effective. The researchers are supposed to choose one representative park and observe it for a particular period of time, watching people visiting it and the staff. As it is significant for the experiment to have a random nature, the application of this sampling technique will provide researchers with the adequate information.
Before the beginning of the study, it is necessary to complete four steps of preparation. According to Hyett, Kenny, and Swift (2023), the first one comprises the process of defining the population that will be observed. In the terms of the research, there will be everyday visitors aged from 25 to 70, parents with their children, and the personnel working in a chosen recreational area. The bottom line of people aged 25 is set to provide the researchers with adequate results on the psychological aspect, because young participants may cause distortion in data. The second step is close to the previous one and lies in the creation of the list of the observed groups of population. As the experts observe the behavioral patterns of the visitors, it will be sufficient to divide the target population into the groups mentioned before. The third step is to create an approximate sample of the research.
For example, one of the parks run by Bergen County Parks Department is a representative segment. At the beginning of the study, the observers will divide it into the small groups, each of which will contain approximately two people. Each of them will get a special task of monitoring the particular behavioral patterns of individuals. The functions of the experts involved will be based on the queries highlighted in the Research Questions section. During the study, the observers will make notes about the face expressions of the visitors, daily attendance of the park, and the number of children playing far from their parents. Additionally, the experts will interview the personnel of this park and visually assess the quality of their work. It is worth mentioning that the second part of the research period will include the changes in the park’s infrastructure. The facilitative team, having made an agreement in regard to the study with the administration of the area, will set the lampposts, waste bins, and observation cameras around the park. To reach the purpose of the experiment, the scientists have to involve a few police officers who would ensure the order kept by the park visitors. Such measures are taken in order to change the attitude of both guests and staff toward spending time in the recreational areas. The study aims to prove that the level of security of individuals will increase with the improvement of the environment of the parks in general. Therefore, the model of observing passer-byes in one particular park will be relevant in the study of any other park.
The fourth step to fulfill lies in contacting the members of the sample. However, a disguised research has very specific characteristics, and that is why the participants of the study will be unaware of being under the observation. Consequently, the experimenters involved in the research have to keep the information private and publish only the generalized results of the study. Another challenge which the expert group may face is being under suspicion of the park’s personnel. That is why the researchers have to be attentive when interviewing the staff of the recreational area. By following all the steps, the experts will be able to get precise and correct data directly from the sources and with minimized bias or prejudice.
The experimenters should not exclude the occurrence of the mistake during a sampling process. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a mitigation plan that would prevent possible inaccuracies. As Kawulich (2004) states, there are two generalized kinds of faults: systematic sampling error that biases the sample toward one particular side and random sampling error which occurs by chance. The first kind of flaws happens when there is an improper construction of the sample, or when the researchers omit the certain individuals from the list of collected data because of them being uncooperative or misleading. In this investigation, the systematic sampling error may occur when some observed visitors of the parks behave in a different way and do not fit the context of the research. For example, the drunk or intoxicated people should not be under the observation in order to prevent the data distortion, and neither teenagers nor children that come to the park without parents should be observed. It means that the investigators need to be attentive toward the choice of individuals for the research to avoid the creation of bias.
In contrast to the systematic type of fault that occurs on purpose, random sampling error happens by chance. It appears when some sample provides the researchers with a better assessment of the collected information than the others do. Moreover, because of its random nature, the researchers may calculate the statistical probability of the error happening and agree on the amount of the errors which they can tolerate, thus determining the measure of confidence they have (Kawulich, 2019). In the analysis of the chosen area, a random error can occur when generalizing the data from one park and from all territories run by Bergen County Parks Department. It means that it is important to make certain recommendations to the researchers in regard to all groups of recreational places.
As a result, before conducting a survey, the investigators have to reveal possible systematic and random errors and to consider them. With these measures, the results of the exploration will be more accurate and statistically supported, both explaining the reasons for flaws happening and developing the strategies to avoid them. Consequently, the prevention of these errors will contribute to the achievement of the primary purpose of the survey.
There are always ethical issues in regard to the use of human subjects during the research work. These aspects are based on the degree of intervention in the private lives of the individuals, so the investigators have to consider them attentively during their observations.
When addressing the ethical considerations in an efficient manner, it is significant to take into account the following aspects. As the guideline of the Ministry of Health (2022) mentions, when the study encompasses the issues which have more than minimal risk for participants, the executives have to appeal to the ethics review committee. The concerns might arise whenever something is done to the unsuspecting person, including gathering the information about general healthcare procedures, the usage of human tissues, the analysis of private health information without the consent, and investigating the vulnerable participants, such as children. Regarding the research of the recreational areas, it does not focus on the mentioned sensitive issues — it has to observe the relationships between parents and their children who attend the chosen park. The point is that the investigation does not intend to collect the data from the children, but it aims to reveal the patterns of their behavior in the park. Therefore, the minimal degree of risk is allowable, and there is no necessity to appeal to the appropriate ethics review committee.
To correspond to the moral norms, during the study researchers have to keep to the following ethical considerations (Ministry of Health, 2022). The first one is respect for people involved in the investigation. The principals of autonomy and personal security are an important factor to account during the project. The next issue to consider is justice. The researchers have to avoid highlighting the contribution of the particular groups and lessening the meaningfulness of other results. They need to address the staff that works in the park without prejudice and with respect to the equality of sex, race, religion, or spiritual beliefs of the people, because any deviation or prejudice will misinterpret the data. Consequently, the strategy of the research has to exclude any sign of discrimination against the participants. Beneficence and non-maleficence are also significant ethical affairs. Due to the observational type of a study, the degree of the potential harm is less than during the experimental exploration. It also has a goal of eventually decreasing the crime rate in the recreational areas run by Bergen County Parks Department, as well as of raising the security level of their visitors and personnel. Thus, the usage of investigators’ labor, financial resources, and other expenditures for the study can be justified by the long-term beneficial effect for the sake of the society.
The last but not less important ethical consideration to account lies in avoiding the conflict of interests between the investigators, sponsors, employers, and participants. Before the beginning of the study, the executives should agree on the plan of the research, on the main stages and strategies. Each of the investigators has to express their personal vision of the project and to discuss the questionable issues. Moreover, the administration of the park chosen as a representative sample has to be aware of the study and to contribute to its development. As for the staff of the recreational areas, these people will be under observation as well, and therefore, they should not be aware of all of the details of the investigation.
Overall, during the research, it is necessary for its organizers to account the ethical issues. Such considerations as respect for people and their rights, justice, beneficence, and prevention of the conflict of interests play a significant role in the designing of the general plan of the research and strongly affect the outcomes of the project.
The study aims to prove that the crime rate in the parks and the comfort of the people who spend time there directly depend on the environmental conditions in those parks. Therefore, the recommendations will deal with the installation and renewal of the facilities of the recreational areas run by Bergen County Parks Department. When developing the recommendations to the administrative bodies of the parks, the investigators have to show how the outcomes of the study support them.
Specifically, a proposal should include the coherent steps of implementation of the recommended policies. In regard to the parks, it will be include the installation of the lampposts, cameras, waste bins, and police posts. The administration has to fulfill these requirements, and it will not take long before the rate of crime declines. With the implementation of these simple steps, the Bergen County Parks Department will reduce the root of the problem in the parks and attract more visitors to them. People will also be interested to observe the type of a new policy implemented in the parks. Thus, the attendance of the recreational areas after the study will grow rapidly.
Following the recommendations of the investigators, the executives of the Department will solve the set problems. Primarily, they will develop the strategy of decreasing crime rates throughout the parks and centers, which will be based on the improvement of the facilities. Simultaneously with the restructuring of the park, the trust and security of the visitors and the parks’ personnel will also rise.
To determine the effectiveness of the proposed plan, the Bergen County Parks Department will need approximately two months to install and renew the facilities, to involve the police posts, and to observe the first results. Furthermore, it will be necessary to conduct the next research in a way similar to the first study and to compare the outcomes of both investigations.
To conclude the research work, it is significant to interpret its findings and explain their overall meaning. As the exploration aims to reveal the linkage between the behavioral and environmental patterns, it is necessary to compare the initial and final data at the end of the investigation. Consequently, the data collected on the last day of the study has to demonstrate the increased motivation of the staff working in the observed parks and the increased level of attendance of the recreational areas. It will be based on the increased level of security of these visitors. Regarding these outcomes, the researchers will achieve the initial purpose of the study and will be able to present the data to the administrative bodies. Together with the executives, they should agree on the strategy of the parks’ restoration and develop the appropriate plan.
Apart from the study, there can be another solution for the problem of the increased level of insecurity of the visitors. It lies in the privatization of sectors of each recreational area. As the first chapters of the investigation mention, the common property equals to no one’s. However, the transformation of public places into private ones may only deepen the problem, because the entrepreneurs will primarily focus on the profit growth, not on the comfort of the citizens.
In the short-term perspective, the researchers have to present the findings of the study to the executive bodies in order to develop an appropriate practical plan. Then the strategic team has to implement the developed policy into reality and to monitor the order kept by the visitors. Also, further investigation will aim to decrease the occurrence of crime cases and it will focus on the revealing of the potential thieves. In the long-term period, the introduction of a new policy into the parks intends to increase the general level of security of the visitors and to make the recreational areas into places suitable for spending free time at, as they were initially supposed to be.