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org/The-Public-Image-of-the-Police

Final Report to The International Association of Chiefs of Police By The


Administration of Justice Program George Mason University

Authors (Alphabetical Order):

Catherine Gallagher

Edward R. Maguire

Stephen D. Mastrofski

Michael D. Reisig

October 2, 2001

Contact Person:

Stephen D. Mastrofski
Administration of Justice Program
George Mason University
10900 University Boulevard, MS 4F4
Manassas, VA 20110-2203
Telephone: (703) 993-8313
Fax: (703) 993-8316
Email: smastrof@gmu.edu
CONTENTS

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION

Methodology

CHAPTER 2. THE GENERAL IMAGE OF POLICE

I. Introduction
II. General versus Specific Measures
III. How to Measure General Police Image
IV. General Police Image Over Time
V. Factors Influencing the General Image of the Police

Personal Characteristics of the Citizen

Nature of the Citizens Recent Contact with Police

Mass Media Portrayals of Police and Crime


VI. Police Image Compared to Other Major Social Institutions
VII. Police Image from Community Surveys
VIII. Conclusion

CHAPTER 3. PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF THE OUTCOMES OF POLICING

I. Introduction
II. Different Ways to Measure Police Outcomes
III. Police-crime Outcome-oriented Elements: Results from National Polling Data
IV. Community Outcome-oriented Elements and the Publics

General Image of the Police


V. Responsibility for Crime Control: Neighborhood- and Citizen-level Differences
VI. Conclusions

CHAPTER 4. PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF POLICING PROCESSES

I. Introduction
II. Generic Dimensions of the Quality of Service

Attentiveness

Reliability

Responsiveness

Competence

Manners

Fairness

Integrity
III. Police-specific Dimensions of the Quality of Service

Stops and Searches

Use of Force
IV. Race and the Image of Police
V. The Relationship between Police Processes and the General

Image of the Police


VI. High Visibility Events and the Police Image Regarding Processes
VII. The Consequences of the Police Image
VIII. Conclusions

CHAPTER 5. IMPROVING PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF THE POLICE IMAGE:THE IMPACT OF


COMMUNITY POLICING

I. The Impact of Community Policing on General, Outcome, and Process Measures


II. Conclusions
CHAPTER 6. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH

I. Review of Findings and Implications

General Police Image

Perceptions of the Outcomes of Policing

Public Perceptions of Policing Processes

Improving the Public Perception of the Police

A Perspective on the Findings


II. Recommendations for Future Research

Research Questions

Agenda for Future Data Collection

REFERENCES
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Studys Purpose

The purpose of this study is to provide an overview of published research on the


public image of the police. The report covers three types of police images: general
perceptions of the police as an organization or institution, perceptions of police
outcomes, and perceptions of police processes. The report considers research that
reflects on improving the image of police. It summarizes the findings and discusses
the implications for future research.

Methodology

Two types of reviews were conducted: a review of published research and a review
of archived data sets pertaining to the image of the police held by the public. A
comprehensive search of social science research literature was conducted to obtain
a base for the literature review. We attempted to obtain all of the publications
drawing on national surveys of police. We were selective in drawing upon surveys
relevant to specific police agencies, using these where national surveys did not
provide insights to important questions.

A thorough search of publicly available archives of national and major international


surveys of the police image was also conducted. Surveys of samples drawn on a
state, county, or municipality were not considered unless they offered some
valuable insights to broader questions about the police image. Where available we
obtained copies of the survey instruments (or those parts relevant to the police
image) and basic characteristics of the sample. From this information we prepared a
catalog that will allow IACP to view the entire scope of existing survey data on the
police image that are already available. This catalog is provided separately in a form
that is electronically accessible. Selected data from these surveys are presented in
Exhibits in this report.

Major Findings and Recommendations

The public image of the police is complex. It has many aspects, grouped under
three general categories: overall image, perceptions of police outcomes, and
perceptions of police processes. There are different ways to measure each aspect.
Findings can vary considerably according to which aspect is measured and how
each is measured.
Polls of the adult population in the United States since the 1960s show that the
majority of the public has an over-all positive view of the police. Depending on the
year and the particular measure used, the percentage of respondents with a
positive assessment of police has been between 51 and 81 percent. When asked to
assess service to their own neighborhoods, respondents tend to produce even
higher evaluations. Relatively few citizens offer a negative assessment of police.
The police consistently rank among the institutions and occupations in which the
public expresses the highest confidence and trust.
Most citizens are satisfied with police service in their own neighborhood, and this
level of satisfaction appears to vary little from one urban jurisdiction to another.
Cross-jurisdiction research on this topic is limited to a small number of jurisdictions,
however.
Citizens experiences with the police affect their over all assessment of the
police. The more positive a citizens recent experience with the police, the more
positive the citizens over-all assessment of the police. However, previously held
views of police do not change easily and themselves tend to influence how citizens
interpret their own experiences with the police.
The vast majority of the American public has not had a face-to-face contact with
a police officer in the previous twelve months, so it will be difficult for police to
make large improvements in their over all public image by the direct contact they
have with the public.
Large portions of the American public report using the mass media as their
primary source of information about crime, and these stories are the context for
most mass media accounts of police work. News and entertainment media portray
police and police work in a highly distorted fashion. The recent trend toward
tabloid-style journalism even in mainstream media appears to reduce public
confidence and trust in the police.
Between the 1980s and mid-1990s, increasing numbers of the American public
gave police protection in their area a positive assessment.
Neighborhood residents hold both police and residents responsible for controlling
crime in the neighborhood.
At the end of the 20th century, substantial majorities of the American public
expressed positive views of how police treat the public. Police ranked highest in
being helpful and friendly and lowest in treating people fairly.
The public image of honesty and ethical standards of police has improved
substantially from 1997 to 2000.
The majority of the American public does not perceive police brutality in their
area, but from the mid-1960s to the end of the 20th century the percentage who do
perceive brutality has increased approximately threefold, accounting for a third of
the public. This increase may be due at least in part to the publics changing
standards of what constitutes brutality. The public has become less accepting of
police use of force during this time period.
Across nearly all indicators of the public image of the police, racial minorities
consistently show lower assessments of police than do whites. These race effects
appear to be particularly enduring for citizens assessments of police fairness and
use of force.
The over-all legitimacy of the police depends much more on citizens perceptions
of how the police treat them than on their perceptions of police success in reducing
crime. Public confidence in and support for the police depends more on citizens
perceptions of police officers motives than whether the outcome was personally
favorable to the citizen.
The publics perceptions of how police treat them appear to affect their
willingness to obey the law and obey the police.
Negative publicity about the police in one city that receives high visibility around
the nation may have a nation-wide impact on the publics view of the police, but the
effect appears to be modest and not enduring.
When the public perceives major threats to the nations security, the
overwhelming majority appear willing to give additional powers to the police that
invade privacy and restrict liberty, but substantial portions of the public are also
concerned about the possibility of police abuses of these powers.
Community policing may have some modest, long-term positive influence on
citizens satisfaction with police, but it is unlikely to produce a quick fix.

The following represents a distillation of the major findings of this study.

Between the 1980s and mid-1990s, increasing numbers of the American public
gave police protection in their area a positive assessment.
Neighborhood residents hold both police and residents responsible for controlling
crime in the neighborhood.
At the end of the 20th century, substantial majorities of the American public
expressed positive views of how police treat the public. Police ranked highest in
being helpful and friendly and lowest in treating people fairly.
The public image of honesty and ethical standards of police has fluctuated over
the years but has improved substantially from 1977 to 2000.
At the end of the 20th century, a majority of the American public perceives racial
profiling to be a widespread practice and a problem.
The majority of the American public does not perceive police brutality in their
area, but from the mid-1960s to the end of the 20th century the percentage who do
perceive brutality has increased approximately threefold, accounting now for a third
of the public. This increase may be due at least in part to the publics changing
standards of what constitutes brutality. The public has become less accepting of
police use of force during this time period.
Across nearly all indicators of the public image of the police, racial minorities
consistently show lower assessments of police than do whites. These race effects
appear to be particularly enduring for citizens assessments of police fairness and
use of force.
The over-all legitimacy of the police depends much more on citizens perceptions
of how the police treat them than on their perceptions of police success in reducing
crime. Public confidence in and support for the police depends more on citizens
perceptions of police officers motives than whether the outcome was personally
favorable to the citizen.
The publics perceptions of how police treat them appear to affect their
willingness to obey the law and obey the police.
Negative publicity about the police in one city that receives high visibility around
the nation may have a nation-wide impact on the publics view of the police, but the
effect appears to be modest and not enduring.
When the public perceives major threats to the nations security, the
overwhelming majority appear willing to give additional powers to the police that
invade privacy and restrict liberty, but substantial portions of the public are also
concerned about the possibility of police abuses of these powers.
Community policing may have some modest, long-term positive influence on
citizens satisfaction with police, but it is unlikely to produce a quick fix.

The following summarizes the major limitations of the available research and lists
recommendations for future research.

Different measures of the publics image of the police can produce radically
different results. Research is needed to identify the best survey items to accomplish
specific research and evaluation purposes. Doing this will provide more valid and
reliable measures for learning what the public image of the police is and what
influences that image.
Very little is known about the relative importance of various sources of
information on the polices public image. Research is needed to learn how much
influence is exerted by the publics personal experiences with the police, what they
learn second-hand from friends and acquaintances, and what they learn from the
mass media. Knowing how much and in what ways each of these sources influence
public opinion about the police will help police develop more effective strategies for
improving the publics evaluations of and support for the police.
Very little is known about the influence of nationally publicized events on the
police image. Knowing how both negative and positive publicity in one community
affects the publics image of police in other communities will help police leaders
learn how to deal more effectively with the consequences of those events in their
local communities.
Very little is known about how much variation there is in levels of citizen
satisfaction with the police from community to community, and even less is known
about what types of communities and police agencies show the highest and lowest
levels of satisfaction. Research on this topic will help to validate what most
effectively enhances the police image. Given the tremendous diversity of
communities and police agencies, the research must distinguish what works in
different kinds of communities. Virtually all of the survey research on the police
image has concentrated on relatively large urban jurisdictions.
Very little is known about contextual influences on patterns of public opinion
about the police. Patterns may be different when crime is high compared to when
crime is low, when there are strongly perceived threats to national security and
when there are not.
Very little is known about the relationship between objective and subjective
indicators of police performance. When the crime rate is going up or down does the
public credit the police with this effect? Because police tend to rely heavily on
objective measures of performance in dealing with crime and solving problems, it is
important to know whether success or failure objectively measured translates into
public credit and accountability when measured subjectively through public opinion
surveys.
Little is known about the implications of public opinion for public behavior that is
of concern to police. Are there thresholds of public satisfaction or dissatisfaction in a
community that indicate a considerably increased likelihood of citizen support or
resistance to the police? What are the consequences of shifts in the police image for
the tenure of police leadership? Answers to these questions will help police leaders
use poll results to predict short and long-term trends in citizens behaviors that are
important to police.

The report concludes with a proposal for IACP to take a lead role in developing a
data collection system that would enable its membership to track its progress in
improving the police image and make it possible for researchers to answer the
research questions listed above. The working name for this program is the Uniform
Public Opinion Poll on Policing (UPOPP). The UPOPP system would be a voluntary
program that would provide survey research planning to participating agencies.
Those agencies would agree to conduct an annual public opinion survey in their
jurisdictions. In addition to a common set of survey questions for all agencies, these
surveys could also include questions crafted to suit the special needs of that
department and the community it serves. Data would be archived by a research
organization selected by IACP. In addition to providing advice on the design and
implementation of the annual survey, the research organization would analyze the
archived data, issuing an annual report on the state of the public image of police.

The following sections of the executive summary provide a more detailed


description of findings and recommendations. Findings are divided into major
sections on the general image of the police, perceptions of the outcomes of policing,
perceptions of policing processes, and improving the public perception of the police.
This is followed by a discussion that places the findings in perspective. The
executive summary concludes with a discussion of priority issues for future research
and an agenda for data collection.
The General Image of Police

The general image of the police offers an overview of the publics perception of the
police. Particular characteristics of the people, organization, or institution remain
undifferentiated. Measures of the general image are useful because they provide a
summary measure of the level of overall favorableness or support that the public
holds for the police.

How one measures image makes a difference.

The more general the question, the more positive the response tends to be.

Slight changes in the wording of the question or the response options can
make a big difference in how positive the image appears to be.

Questions that measure the favorableness of the police image tend to


generate more positive responses than questions that ask about confidence in the
police.

The majority of the public has a substantial degree of confidence in the police as
a general institution.

Only a small percentage of polled citizens reports having very little or no


confidence in the police in their community.

The proportion of people with confidence in the police can change several
percentage points from year to year, but it often changes only 2-3 points per year.

Confidence in police has been declining slowly since 1996 (from 60 to 54


percent).
The trend in respect for the police is that the level of positive views of the police
have been declining since the mid-to-late 1960s.

A more positive general image of the police is associated with the following
characteristics of the public:

Being older. National samples of high school seniors consistently rate the job
police (generally) are doing as substantially lower than do national samples of older
persons.

Being of higher wealth or socio-economic status

Living in suburban (as opposed to urban) areas

Being white (as opposed to black)

Having positive attitudes about ones own neighborhood


One major study of Chicago suggests that there is no difference between blacks
and whites when socio-economic disadvantage of the neighborhood is taken into
account. That is, blacks negativity toward police appears to be due to their
concentration in disadvantaged areas.

Negative attitudes about the police by disadvantaged persons appears to be part


of a more diffuse alienation from government, law, and the political process
generally.

Citizens experiences with the police influence their general image of the police.

One study indicates that police courtesy/friendliness toward the citizen in a


recent contact with police exerts the most powerful influence on the citizens
general evaluation of the police. This holds for situations where the citizens contact
was involuntary (traffic stops) and voluntary (breaking-and-entering complaints).

However, two studies have indicated that peoples prior general views of police
have stronger influence on their evaluation of a subsequent specific contact than
their evaluation of a specific contact has on subsequent general views of police.

The vast majority of the American public has not had face-to-face contact with
a police officer in the previous twelve months.

Most citizens regard the mass media as their prime source of information about
crime, and crime news is the context for most mass media accounts of police work.

The implicit message of much crime news is the inability to catch offenders.

There is an increasing trend in the news media to concentrate their coverage


on a few sensational cases in a tabloid style of journalism. The net impact of tabloid-
style coverage appears to be a decline in confidence in the police.

Entertainment media present images of police that distort the realities of


every-day police work. Although more positively presented than attorneys and
judges, police are more often than not presented as incompetent rule-breakers.

Since 1993 the police consistently rate among the top three institutions out of
thirteen in public confidence (with the military clearly at the top and
churches/organized religion and the police vying for second place). Police rate much
higher than the rest of the criminal justice system.

Large majorities of adult citizens are satisfied or very satisfied with police service
in their neighborhoods.

Although there is variation in satisfaction levels across urban jurisdictions,


most fall within the 80-90 percent range.
The majority of school-age children in Cincinnati trust their local police, but a
large portion do not, and this distrust is particularly strong among nonwhite
students.

Public Perceptions of the Outcomes of Policing

Outcomes are identified by knowing the goals that people hold for the public the
consequences of doing police work. Police nowadays are expected to accomplish a
variety of outcomes, including reducing crime and disorder, reducing fear of crime,
solving neighborhood problems and improving quality of life, and developing greater
community cohesion. However, most of the research on the public perception of the
police image has focused on the impact of the police on crime and safety.

From the 1980s to the mid-1990s, increasing numbers of the public have offered
positive assessments of the quality of police protection.

Confidence in the ability of the police to achieve traditional crime-focused goals


appears to be high based on a 1995 survey. 74 percent expressed confidence in the
police to protect citizens from crime, 74 percent to solve crime, and 65 percent to
prevent crime.

African Americans reported lower ratings than whites and Hispanics.

Residents appear to hold police at least partially responsible for outcomes at the
neighborhood level.

There is a relationship between satisfaction levels of police service in the


neighborhood and residents ratings of crime, disorder, and physical decay in the
neighborhood.

Research at the community level suggests that residents believe that citizens
share responsibility for controlling crime.

This relationship holds across neighborhoods with different levels of family


income, home ownership, and length of occupancy differing only according to
ethnicity.

Hispanics appear more likely to hold police solely responsible for controlling
crime.

Public Perceptions of Policing Processes


The processes of policing are how police do their work. The aspects of police
processes that one might study are virtually infinite, but the public cares most
about those that are captured by the notion of service. Service has many
dimensions, some of which are generalizable to a wide variety of human services,
not just policing: attentiveness, reliability, responsiveness, competence, manners,
fairness, and integrity. Some features of service are peculiar to police those
aspects of their authority that empower them to intrude on citizens privacy and
coerce them: stops and searches and use of force, for example.

The research on most aspects of the publics view of policing processes is limited in
scope. The following represent the major findings from the limited research
available.

Police attentiveness to crime victims (providing them counseling on how to undo


the negative effects of victimization) has a positive effect on their attitude toward
the police.

Citizens expectations about how the police will perform affects their evaluation
of how they perform in a specific situation.

Positive evaluations are associated with perceived performance that meets or


exceeds prior expectations.

A substantial majority of the public rates their police as doing an excellent or


pretty good job of being helpful and friendly.

A substantial majority of the public express positive attitudes about the fairness
of the police, but a significant portion rate them as only fair or poor.

African Americans, younger people, singles, and low-income respondents tend


to offer less positive evaluations of police fairness. The difference is particularly
striking between African Americans and whites.

Racial disparities in assessments of police fairness may be caused in part by


indirect exposure to unfair treatment by receiving second-hand accounts from
others in their neighborhood.

Almost one in five respondents fear that the police will stop and arrest them
when they are completely innocent.

The public image of the honesty and ethical standards of police has fluctuated
considerably, but has improved substantially from 1977 to 2000.

In 2000 the police ranked 10th out of 32 occupations rated on honesty and
ethical standards.
Approximately one in ten respondents in a national survey reported that they had
been stopped by police because of their racial or ethnic background.

Blacks were seven times more likely to report this than whites.

Most vehicle operators stopped by police felt that they had been stopped
legitimately, but there were significant differences by race and gender.

Men and blacks were less likely to feel that their stops were legitimate

Most vehicle operators who are searched by police feel that the search was not
legitimate.

Blacks were substantially more likely to view the search as illegitimate than
whites.

A study in England found that citizens were more likely to feel fairly treated when
officers gave a good reason for the stop.

In 1999 59 percent of the American public perceived racial profiling by the police
as widespread, and in 2000 75 percent viewed it as a problem in the United
States.

Blacks are much more likely than whites to perceive that racial profiling by
police is widespread.

Nearly all citizens who experience police force view the police behavior as
improper.

Nearly all citizens view police force as appropriate when a citizen attacks the
officer, and the majority approve when a suspect escapes from custody, but few
citizens approve when a citizen says vulgar or obscene things to a police officer.

The publics acceptance of police force is declining over time, especially for
suspect escapes and the use of vulgar or obscene language.

Lowered thresholds of what constitutes brutality in the publics mind may


account for some of the significant increase in the publics perception of brutality.

The citizens race is a significant influence on the citizens assessment of the


quality of the police process.

Hispanics, and especially African Americans, evaluate police less favorably on


the use of force, fairness, friendliness, and promptness.
For citizens who have had contact with the police within the previous two
years, when the level of satisfaction with that contact is taken into account, race is
no longer an significant influence on citizens assessments of police friendliness and
promptness. However, race remains a significant influence on assessments of use of
force and fairness.
A small, but growing number of studies indicates that citizens assessments of
police processes have a powerful influence on their view of police legitimacy.

Trust in the motives of legal authorities, such as the police, has more impact on
police legitimacy than the citizens view of the fairness or favorability of the
outcome for that person. This is uniform across race/ethnic groups.

Citizens assessments of police competence and fairness are both significant


predictors of the publics general confidence in and support for the police, but the
fairness assessment is by far the more powerful of the two predictors. This holds for
both whites and racial minorities.

A study in Oakland during a time when police were using aggressive tactics to
suppress gangs and gun-related crimes showed that public support for the police
was influenced far more by how police interact with the public than whether crime
was reduced.

The Rodney King incident may have had a nationwide effect on the publics view
of police honesty and integrity in the few years following the event, but the effect
was modest and not enduring. Other high visibility events (Louima, Diallo, and
Ramparts) showed no readily discernable effect.

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New
York City and the Pentagon, the overwhelming majority of the public was willing to
give additional powers to police to conduct surveillance, identify, and apprehend
terrorists.

However, substantial proportions of the public were concerned about the


possibility of police abuses of these powers.

A growing body of research suggests that how the public feels about the way
police treat them affects the publics behavior (obeying the law and obeying the
police).

Most of this research is based on studies of citizen contacts with the police.

Improving Public Perceptions of the Police Image: The Impact of Community Policing

This report reviewed studies that evaluate the impact of community policing on the
publics perception of the police. Community policings philosophy emphasizes the
importance of meeting the communitys needs, and there has recently been some
research that allows an assessment of its impact. The aspect of community policing
that has been evaluated is the attempt to increase citizen participation at the
neighborhood level.

Community policing may have some modest positive influence on citizens


satisfaction with the police.
Some evidence suggests that adoption of community policing programs is
associated with perceptions of improved quality of neighborhood life and
improvement in the image of the police.
Community policing reforms are unlikely to provide a quick fix, but entail a long-
term commitment by police to work with citizens to address neighborhood ills.

A Perspective on the Findings

The public image of the police is complex, making generalizations difficult. There is
no single best measure of the police image. Researchers should carefully select the
best measures to suit the specific purposes of their research, taking care to avoid
cynical selection of only those measures that tend to show the police in the most
positive light.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the image of American police can be
characterized as positive or mixed, depending upon ones interpretation. There is
reason for both alarm and celebration. Many indicators show that American police
are among the most trusted and admired institutions of contemporary society, while
there are also many indicators that the American public especially the young and
disadvantaged are wary of the police and see plenty of room for improvement.
Although police appear to enjoy legitimacy with the majority of people in even the
groups who are most disaffected, police leaders should not be complacent.
Substantial portions of the disadvantaged are not so positive, and it is precisely
these people whose cooperation and good will the police need in general and in the
every-day work of the street officer. Even relatively low levels of public
dissatisfaction with police are problematic if they are concentrated among groups
who have a self-identity as victims of policing.

There appear to be at least three ways in which the public forms negative
impressions of police: the direct experiences of the public with the police, how the
police are presented to the public through the press and entertainment media, and
the standards and expectations the public holds for the police. This is the most
complex, because even when performance measured objectively is rising the
publics standards and expectations may be rising even more rapidly. When this
happens, the public or certain segments of the public remain continually
dissatisfied as they raise the bar of police performance higher than the police are
going. The police themselves may play a role in raising public expectations and
standards, which ultimately affects the publics assessment of their performance.

Issues for Future Research


A number of important issues are highlighted for future research. Addressing these
issues and answering these questions will help police be more effective in improving
public perceptions of them, their practices, and their accomplishments.

More research should be done to identify the best survey measures for specific
purposes. Measurement issues include not only question wording, but also question
ordering and how the survey itself is framed for the respondents.

Research should be done to determine the relative importance of a variety of


influences on the publics image of the police: the personal experiences of the
public, what the public learns second-hand from friends and acquaintances, and
what they learn from the mass media. How influential the citizens prior view and
expectation when they experience a personal contact or exposure to a new mass
media presentation?

What is the importance of highly publicized events on the police image both
negative events and positive ones? How long do these effects last, and how much
influence do events in one community exert on the publics image of police in
another jurisdiction?

What kinds of police agencies achieve the most positive public perceptions?

What influence does context have on the publics evaluation? Are patterns the
same when crime is high as when it is low? When crime is rising as when it is stable
or falling? Do citizens standards and priorities change as the context changes?

What influence do police public relations campaigns have on the publics image
of the police? Which kinds of efforts are most successful?

How closely correlated are objective measures of police performance (e.g., crime
rates) to subjective measures (i.e., those based on public opinion surveys)? Where
subjective and objective measures point to different results, what accounts for those
differences?

What impact does the publics image of police have for the publics actions (e.g.,
crime reporting, cooperating with police, participation in partnerships, obeying the
law, voting and supporting funding of police programs)? What are the consequences
of shifts in the police image for the tenure of police leadership?

Agenda for Future Data Collection

A program for routinely collecting data on the police image is proposed. The
program would be sponsored by the IACP and conducted with the assistance of an
expert research organization. The working name of this program is the Uniform
Public Opinion Poll on Policing (UPOPP). It would provide for a nation-wide system of
survey research coordinated and facilitated by UPOPP, but conducted by individual
IACP participating agencies. Participation in the program would be voluntary. The
UPOPP program would provide for high quality survey research that produced a
standardized set of survey questions to be used by all participants, plus an optional
set of questions designed to suit any special interests of each participating agency.
The survey would be conducted annually by participating departments to allow the
tracking of public image trends over time.

Under the proposed UPOPP model, the IACP would:

Commission the development of a standard survey instrument and methodology.

Underwrite the field testing and revision of this instrument and methodology.

Solicit participation from IACP members

Select and monitor a research organization that would conduct a number of


activities.

The responsibilities of the research organization would include the following:

Keep abreast of studies and survey research relevant to the UPOPP mission.

Assist participating members in developing survey items that would deal with
local issues of concern not covered in the standard survey instrument.

Provide limited technical assistance to participating police agencies regarding the


conduct of the survey (e.g., sampling, data collection, contracting with a local
survey research firm to collect the data).

Receive and archive copies of participating agencies survey instruments and


data, establishing and enforcing technical standards for computerized data.

Issue an annual report to the IACP that summarizes analysis from the data
archive for the current year, as well as showing comparisons and trends for previous
years.

Participating agencies would be responsible for collecting the data and delivering a
copy to the UPOPP research organization. Participating agencies would either
conduct the survey themselves or arrange for a local survey research firm to do
this.
A number of issues would need to be resolved in detail, presumably choices to be
made by the IACP with the advice of the UPOPP research organization.

The content of the standardized portion of the survey instrument,

The content of the local-option, customized portion of the survey instrument,

Arrangements to make participation by small agencies economically feasible,

Scope of services provided by UPOPP research organization to participating


agencies,

Content of the UPOPP annual report and whether results for individual
participating departments would be reported,

Archiving requirements, access to data, and follow-up cross-jurisdiction data


analysis, and

Funding of the UPOPP program.

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

The International Association of Chiefs of Police engaged the Administration of


Justice Program at George Mason University to conduct a review of existing
knowledge of the public image of the police. This report presents the findings from
that study.

We conceptualize the police image as falling into three general categories: over all
image, outcomes, and process (Mastrofski, 1998). The over all (or general) image of
police is diffuse and reflects perceptions, feelings, and evaluations that ask about
the police in general, without regard to any particular characteristic or criterion. The
following are examples of over all image:

Confidence in the police

Satisfaction with the police

Trust in the police

Respect for the police

Support for the police


Police performance in general

The benefit of such general descriptions is that they reflect an over all orientation of
the public to the police. They give us a general sense of how positive or negative
the public is toward the police. They are limited, however, in that they provide no
indication of what it is about the police that pleases or displeases them. They are
merely summary measures that cannot by themselves reveal the individual
assessments and weights of those assessments that contribute to each
respondents view. The following two types of items enable researchers to examine
the internal architecture of the publics image of police.

Police are expected to achieve a variety of outcomes, some of which have long been
characterized as part of the police mission, and others of which have been more
recently embraced under the rubric of community policing:

reducing crime and disorder,

reducing the fear of crime,

solving neighborhood problems and improving the quality of life, and

developing greater community cohesion.

Police are also expected to adhere to a wide variety of process-oriented standards.


These include the following:

Integrity avoidance of corruption & abuse of power for personal gain,


dishonesty, tolerance of corruption, abuse of power, and dishonesty among fellow
officers,

Fairness treating people equally or equitably, regardless of race, sex, origin,


etc.,

Civility treating people with respect,

Responsiveness giving people what they want, showing care and concern for
their problems,

Police presence being available and accessible to provide police services in a


timely fashion,

Appropriate use of force using only that force necessary to accomplish


legitimate goals, and
Competence having the knowledge and skills necessary to do their work.

While it is safe to assume that people have opinions about the extent to which the
police do these things well, there has been no systematic, comprehensive analysis
of the views of the American public on all of these qualities. And we need to know
the relative importance of these things to the public in shaping their over all
assessment of police. When people express confidence or satisfaction with the
police, how much do each of these elements exert on the over all evaluation?

It is important to know how stable the publics image of police is over time and to
know what influences fluctuations in their image. To what extent are
positive/negative fluctuations a function of highly publicized events (e.g., the
Rodney King incident, the O. J. Simpson trial, the Diallo case), and to what extent
are they the product of social, cultural, economic, and crime trends?

This is not merely an academic question, but rather one with profound implications
for the profession. If the publics perception of the police nationwide is dramatically
affected by highly publicized (even if highly localized) events, then a police
executive needs to be prepared to provide a balanced picture to put the publicized
event in perspective. If the event is atypical of policing, then the chief must be
prepared to provide convincing evidence to the contrary (that does not appear to be
merely self-serving). If it is enough of a problem to warrant widespread concern,
then the chief must be in a position to show that he or she appreciates the scope of
the problem and is taking action to rectify matters. Responding to such image
problems requires nearly always a reactive approach.

If, on the other hand, the publics view of police is affected by trends in crime, the
economy, and other social indicators, then a more proactive, long-term approach
may be effective. This might include alerting police leaders to the need to attend to
specific image problems or opportunities that are anticipated with shifts in social,
economic, or crime trends. For example, does the image of police as effective crime
fighters decline when crime escalates? Are the police held responsible when drug
crime and disorder increases? Does their image benefit when these problems are on
the decline? When crime is on the increase, does the public place greater emphasis
on the crime control function than it does when it is on the decline? When crime is
declining, does the public place greater stress on police adherence to law and equal
treatment across social groups?

It is also important to account for variations in the police image at any given time. It
is well documented that racial and ethnic minorities tend to have a less positive
image of the police than do whites. Elderly have a more positive view of police than
youths. More highly educated and higher income citizens also tend to be more
positive. However, we do not know much about the relative importance each group
places on these qualities. For example, do older people place greater weight on the
ability of police to control crime and disorder than younger people? Do younger
people place greater emphasis on how the police treat citizens when dealing with
them (rather than the outcomes of those police efforts)?

It would also be useful to understand how the public weights the relative
importance of accomplishing desirable outcomes (e.g., lower crime rates) and police
adherence to certain standards about how they go about their business (e.g.,
legality, courtesy, responsiveness, fairness). There is a fundamental tension in the
police role that highlights the classic ends-means philosophical problem: when, if
ever, do the ends justify the means? Egon Bittners (1970) insight about modern
expectations about policing is that Western democratic culture places a high value
on accomplishing lofty goals, such as peace (absence of crime and disorder), and
that it prefers that whenever possible this be accomplished by peaceful means
(such as negotiation, persuasion, and education). Nonetheless, society finds need to
invest someone with the authority to use dirty that is, coercive methods for
accomplishing peace when peaceful means may not work. The police are the
institution that receives that authority, but giving them legal authority does not
eradicate societal concern about the philosophical dilemma of deciding when the
ends justifies the means and when they do not. Americans place a high value on
achieving peace and minimizing crime, but they also appear to be very concerned
that police accomplish these things by not simply pursuing the most effective and
efficient methods. They care also about how the police pursue these goals.

Two traditions in America make it difficult for police to pursue a single goal (e.g.,
crime reduction) without taking other, possibly conflicting goals into account
(Goldstein, 1977; Miller, 1975). One is the tradition of distrust of concentrating too
much power in any given public office, and finding ways to constrain or
counterbalance powers that are given public officials, such as the police. The other
is the tradition that police be public servants whose job is to provide their clientele
things they want in the ways they want them. That is, police in America are not to
be remote and isolated legal functionaries, but rather responsive and accessible
servants of the publics will: of, by, and for the people, to apply Lincolns well-
known phrase.

What does this mean for the police image? Police are often targeted for reform
because they are viewed as deficient in achieving the goals that are set before
them, but they are also criticized and targeted for reform when their methods
appear less than desirable. And when the police themselves seek support, their
leaders often tend to emphasize their successes in accomplishing a particular
outcome (e.g., reducing crime) or adhering to widely accepted standards (e.g.,
adhering strictly to legality). For example, the police leadership of New York City has
in recent years sought to burnish the departments image by claiming credit for
reducing crime (Bratton, 1998). And the Federal Bureau of Investigation long ago
established its credibility for incorruptibility by visibly promoting strict adherence to
legal standards by its agents. An important question thus arises as we turn our
attention to what shapes the image of the police that the public holds. What most
burnishes the general police image and ultimately support for the police positive
feelings about police effectiveness in producing outcomes or positive feelings about
how police go about their business?

At this point, no one has attempted to amass existing survey research on the
publics view of the police into a single, cohesive statement that will enable us to
answer these questions. However, by conducting a comprehensive review of what is
available from the existing research literature, we will be in a better position to
state what is known and what remains to be determined. That is our goal in the
remainder of this report.

Methodology

We began by conducting a thorough search of publicly available archives of national


and major international surveys of the police image. Surveys of samples drawn on a
state, county, or municipality were not considered unless they offered some
valuable insights to broader questions about the police image. Several archives
were used, including those housed at the University of Michigan, the Gallup, Roper,
and Harris public opinion polls, and those conducted by news organizations. Where
available, we obtained copies of the survey instruments (or those parts relevant to
the police image) and basic characteristics of the sample (number of respondents,
date conducted, how conducted). From this information, we prepared a catalog that
will allow IACP to view the entire scope of existing survey data on the police image
that are already available. Since this catalog would be lengthy in print, we have
provided separately a database containing the information. It can be printed or it
can be searched electronically. The catalog provides a useful tool for understanding
previous research on the public image of the police. This resource should prove
valuable in deciding on future surveys and survey items.

In addition, we also conducted a review of published research on the police image


that is drawn from national (and in some cases local) public opinion surveys. This
review draws primarily from academic and professional journals and research
institute reports that are publicly available. Most of the existing literature focuses on
the over all image of the police; surveys on the publics image of specific aspects of
police outcomes and police processes are far less frequent and systematic. The
review summarizes the state of research and indicates the extent to which answers
to questions raised in the initial research proposal are addressed by this research.
After reviewing and assessing all available data sets and published studies, we
identify those aspects about the police image that remain unaddressed or about
which there are inconclusive or conflicting findings. In the concluding chapter, we
make a series of recommendations as to the kind of future research that might
answer important questions about the image of policing in the United States.

Throughout the report we cite the specific sources from which we make our
observations both research reports and public opinion polls. We recognize that this
may be distracting to readers desiring only to learn the results of the research, but
we include the citations for two reasons: (1) some readers may wish to learn more
about the specific research described, and (2) researchers whose work is cited
deserve to have their work acknowledged.

CHAPTER 2

THE GENERAL IMAGE OF POLICE

I. Introduction

The public image of the police is measured a number of different ways. Sometimes
surveys ask about local police, police in your neighborhood or police in your
area, while other surveys ask about the police as a general institution. The
terminology used to gauge public support also varies widely, with questions asking
about whether respondents approve of or trust the police, have confidence in
or respect for the police, or whether they support or have favorable views of
the police. What makes these terms general is that the criteria or standards of
performance remain unspecified. They do not ask the public to focus on either
police processes or outcomes. The person answering this question could in good
conscience choose both, neither, or perhaps something else entirely. And without
additional information, we are unable to determine how much weight the survey
respondent gives to specific aspects of police performance. Such questions are like
those that ask the public to indicate whether they approve of the job that the
president of the United States is doing without specifying any particular aspect of
that job. Such questions are useful, however, in that they give the survey
respondent an opportunity to offer a summary that takes all of those aspects that
are relevant to his or her view into account, weighting each, at least implicitly, as he
or she prefers.

Not surprisingly, the terminology used in public opinion polls seems to make a
difference in measuring the general image of the police. Another important element
to consider in public opinion polls is whether citizens are voicing an opinion about
their own previous experiences with the police, those of their neighbors, friends or
family members, or simply general impressions based on a number of sources, from
television and the media to opinions shared within the subcultures in which they are
immersed. With all these questions in mind, it is difficult to come to terms with what
constitutes the general image of police.

Why is the general image of police worth measuring? There are a number of
important reasons. First, an understanding of the general image of the police among
citizens provides an important indicator of support for the institution among its
constituents. Understanding how the public views the police is a crucial first step in
improving relationships between the police and communities. This is why
community surveys are a prominent component of the community policing
movement. Similarly, measurements of the public image of the police can be
compared. By producing such measures, agencies can learn whether their image is
improving or declining over time, or whether they are held in higher or lower
esteem by their citizens than police in other communities.

Second, the general image of the police may affect the sorts of behaviors by the
public that greatly interest the police. These include supporting tax initiatives or
referenda designed to enhance the resources of local police agencies, to participate
in co-production activities like neighborhood watch, providing the police with
information useful to solving crime or improving the quality of life in neighborhoods.
Communities with a poor image of the police will be less likely to support and help
the police do their jobs, and more likely to file complaints, launch civil suits, rebel
against the police, and produce media problems. Whether there is indeed a strong
relationship between these public behaviors and the overall image of the police is
an untested, but certainly plausible, thesis.

Finally, there is a small but growing body of evidence that those who view the
authority exercised against them as illegitimate are more likely to rebel against
authority, or in the case of the police, violate the law. For instance, research has
shown that while arrest deters spouse assault among some offenders, it leads
others to become even more angry and defiant, which actually increases their
recidivism rates. Other research has found that domestic violence arrestees who
thought they were treated fairly by police were least likely to reoffend (Paternoster,
et al., 1997). While much research remains to be done on the link between the
perceived legitimacy of the police and crime rates, there is some evidence to
suggest that as institutions like the police lose legitimacy, an increase in crime and
rebellion against the police and other legal and political institutions might result
(LaFree, 1998; Tyler, 1990).

II. General versus Specific Measures


For quite some time police researchers have noted that different survey items
regarding police image capture different levels of public support. For example, Reiss
(1967:36) noted that citizens seem to be in a double bind. Citizens frequently
express skepticism about police power, yet they view police power as a solution.
Similarly, citizens respect the police function, but they lack trust in some of the
ways police perform their duties. Finally, although they remain sympathetic the
challenge of police work, citizens are hesitant to allow police discretion (Reiss,
1967).

White and Menke (1982) argue that the inconsistencies in the police image revealed
in public opinion surveys result from question formatting. The proportions of citizens
who reported a positive police image when presented general questions ranged
from 75% to 80%. However, positive responses only ranged from about one-sixth to
one-half when citizens were presented survey items that were more specific in
nature.[1] White and Menke (1982:223) concluded that general and specific items
assess different universes of meaning and are not simply artifacts of meaningless
comparisons of these measures.

In sum, the available evidence suggests that survey items tapping into general
evaluations of the police image will yield more favorable results. However, the
evidence suggests also that a complete picture of how the public perceives the
police can only be pieced together by administering both general and specific
survey items to respondents. Specific items are useful in identifying the particular
aspects of police performance that are least attractive to the public, which will
enable police organizations to target those areas for improvement.

III. How to Measure General Police Image

In a recent review of several national polls, Shaw and his associates (1998) found
that a majority of Americans hold a favorable image of the police in general, as well
as the police in their communities. However, their study shows that different
questions generate different levels of support for the police.

One common question used to measure general police image among citizens asks
how much confidence you, yourself, have in the police as an institution in
American society. Results from eight Gallup polls conducted annually from 1993 to
2000 show that, on average, slightly more than 56% of respondents reported either
a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the police in general (see Exhibit 1).
The percentage of those responding in positive terms ranged only slightly over time,
from 52% in 1993 to 60% in 1996. The results from polls asking about citizens
levels of confidence in the police in their community were nearly identical. The
percentage of citizens with a positive police image, averaged across five national
polls, was 58%. Differences in levels of confidence across the five polls, which were
conducted between 1981 and 1996, appear rather marginal, ranging from 55% in
1981 and 1991, to 60% in 1985, 1995 and 1996 (see Exhibit 1). The message from
these results is that a majority of Americans have confidence in the police as an
institution and the police in their community, but a substantial portion are also less
confident. This requires careful consideration.

It would be wrong to conclude from the polls noted above that a sizable portion of
citizens have little or no confidence in the police. For example, results from the
eight Gallup surveys conducted between 1993 and 2000 show that only between
10% and 12% of respondents said that they had very little confidence or none at
all. A significantly higher percentage, ranging from 29% in 1996 to 35% in 1993,
reported that they had some confidence in the police. Again, the results from the
five polls asking about levels of confidence of police in your community are very
similar. The percentage of citizens who reported that they had very little
confidence or none were a small minority, ranging from 12% in 1996 to 19% in
1981. The percentage of citizens who said that they had some confidence in the
police in their community was significantly higher (range = 24% [1981] to 31%
[1991]). Overall, then, only a small minority of citizens who were polled reported
that they had very little or no confidence in the police as an institution, and in the
police in their community.

The key issue is what to make of the response, some confidence. Does that reflect
positively or negatively on police? The answer, of course, depends upon ones
expectations. Perhaps one way to think about it is to consider whether a chief would
be pleased to announce to the press that about one fourth of the citizens of his
jurisdiction reported that they had some confidence in their police. We suspect
that most chiefs especially those who embrace community policing aspire to
higher levels of public confidence, so it seems likely that most would view an
assessment of some confidence as a signal that improvement is possible and
even, perhaps, needed.

Different questions have generated varying levels of public support for the police.
Another common survey question asks citizens about their overall opinion of their
local police department. The results reported by Shaw and his associates show
that an overwhelming majority of respondents rate their local police favorably (see
Exhibit 1). For example, a Gallup poll conducted in March 1991 revealed that 82% of
respondents rated their local police department either very favorably or mostly
favorably. A more recent poll, which was conducted by Princeton Survey Research
Associates in 1997, also showed that an overwhelming majority of citizens (81%)
rated their local police in favorable terms (Shaw et al., 1998:414-415). When
comparing these findings to those reported above, it appears as though survey
items asking citizens about how favorably they rate the police in their community
generate more positive results when compared to items that inquire about levels of
confidence.

We can only speculate as to the reason for this difference. Perhaps questions asking
respondents to make a favorableness assessment are tied more closely to the
respondents personal, subjective expectations, whatever they may be. The
question would seem to allow respondents to incorporate a broader range of police
characteristics: intentions, effort, and outcome. In contrast, a question about
confidence in police would seem to encourage respondents to focus more on
objective, observable results, perhaps downplaying intention and effort. In the same
way that one may have a favorable impression of a doctor with a good bedside
manner, one could still be less positive about the confidence placed in him or her in
curing a difficult disease.

IV. General Police Image Over Time

It is difficult to draw sweeping conclusions about changes in the general image of


police over time because there are few data sets that collect comparable
information over time. There are several reasons why these longitudinal data sets
are rare. The primary reason is that designing survey questions is a demanding,
technical task one that requires repeated testing among respondents to ensure
that they understand the question, that it is not confusing, that the response
options make sense, and that it measures the phenomenon of interest. Survey
questions, or the response options that go along with them, frequently change
format based on feedback from survey respondents, the whims of the researcher, a
lack of awareness of prior research, or any one of several other possible
explanations. Readers need to use caution when the format of a question changes
even slightly, since any deviation from the trend may be due to the change in the
question format rather than a change in the quantity being measured (such as the
public image of the police).

To illustrate this point, consider a set of polls conducted in the early 1980s using the
same questions on equivalent samples of respondents, but with a slight difference
in the response options. In 1981, CBS News and the New York Times polled a
national random sample of adults about the degree of confidence they had in the
police in their community. The response options were: A Great Deal, Quite a Lot,
Some, Very Little, and No Opinion. Fifty-five percent of respondents reported that
they had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence. When the survey was repeated
about 8 months later in 1982 by the Gallup Corporation, the response options
changed: A Great Deal, Quite a Lot, Not Very Much, None at All, and No Opinion.
Now 76% of respondents reported having a great deal or quite a lot of confidence. A
1984 survey having the same format as the 1982 survey found similar results, with
75% of respondents reporting a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in police.
Then in 1991 the original question format was adopted again, and once again in this
poll, 55% of respondents had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the police.
It is unlikely that there was a sharp increase in public confidence in the police from
1981 to 1982, which then leveled off until 1984, followed by a gradual reduction
through 1991. The more plausible interpretation is that a small adjustment in the
response options provided to the survey respondents made an enormous difference
in the findings. In this case, some was replaced with not very much and very
little was replaced with none at all. Terminology matters.

Despite the problems with compiling a longitudinal data series, we do have some
limited information on trends in the general image of the police. The data series are
imperfect; they are missing data for some years, while in other instances polls were
conducted twice in the same year. As we have already shown in Exhibit 1, public
confidence in the police from 1993 to 2000 has not experienced dramatic changes.
An average of about 56% of respondents have a great deal or quite a lot of
confidence in the police. In 1993, this figure was 52%, rising to 60% in 1996, and
declining back to 54% in 2000.

There are a number of plausible explanations for these changes, such as highly
publicized crises and crime trends. These influences have not been explored with
rigor, but we can offer an illustration to show how one type of explanation might be
explored in future research. Exhibit 2 shows the relationship between public
confidence in the police and crime rates for the 1993-2000 period depicted earlier in
Exhibit 1. In this chart, crime rates and public confidence rates for 1994-2000 are
expressed in percentage increments above or below their 1993 levels. If declining
crime rates promote higher levels of public confidence, then as the yellow and
green lines (crime rates) decline, the red line (public confidence) should rise. The
chart fails to show the predicted relationship across the entire time period. Even as
crime declined at a fairly steady rate during these years, public confidence either
remained the same or declined for five of the seven time periods. Public confidence
rose only between 1994 and 1996, early in the process. What could account for this
pattern? It is possible that the public adjusts its expectations over time, requiring
increasingly greater levels of performance to express confidence in police. This is
only speculative, however, based on a very limited illustration. We would prefer to
have a much longer time period to compare these trends. Also, it is more plausible
that if citizens hold police accountable for the crime rate, this relationship would be
more readily discernable if we were comparing confidence in the publics
assessment of its own police department to the crime rate in that jurisdiction.
Perhaps too the relationship would be clearer if we had data over this time period
for the publics assessment of the police ability to reduce crime (rather than a
general image question).

It is important to note that although the general image of police is fairly good and
fluctuations from year-to-year tend to be quite small, it has been declining steadily
since 1996 when measured in terms of public confidence. This is a particularly
noteworthy pattern when one considers the enormous investment that the police
profession and taxpayers have made in community policing reforms. During this
period, billions of federal dollars have been spent to promote community policing,
and according to surveys of police leaders, nearly all support it. The press on
community policing has been almost entirely positive (Mastrofski and Ritti, 1999).
Under this onslaught of good feelings about community policing, it is remarkable
that general attitudes about police have changed so little and in fact have declined
over the last five years.

Another indicator of how the general image of the police is changing over time
comes from a series of public opinion polls on the publics respect toward the police.
Exhibit 3 shows that in the 1960s, a period of turbulence for the American police,
two public opinion polls found that an average of 74% of respondents had a great
deal of respect for the police. When the polls were repeated four more times in the
1990s, the average number of respondents with a great deal of respect for the
police had dropped to just under 59%. The surveys were not conducted in equal
time intervals, and they skipped more than two decades, so Exhibit 3 may be
masking a much more complicated story. Nonetheless, the decline in respect for
police from the 1960s to the 1990s is still quite striking. It tracks fairly closely with
another public opinion trend during that period, which is a decline in the percent of
Americans who trust their government to do what is right (LaFree, 1998:102).[2]

The most complete longitudinal series on the general image of the police results
from the yearly Monitoring the Future surveys conducted by the University of
Michigan (Pastore and Maguire, 1999). Since 1987, a nationally representative
sample of at least 2,300 high school seniors is asked to report how good or bad a
job is being done for the country as a whole by the police and other law
enforcement agencies? Exhibit 4 shows that the perceived performance of the
police declined from 1987 to 1992, fluctuated erratically through 1996, and then
began to increase again through 1999. On average, only about 31.4% of seniors
surveyed during this period view the police as doing a good or very good job. The
remainder, nearly 70% on average, view the police as doing a fair, poor, or very
poor job. The difference between the general image of the police among random
samples of high school seniors and adults is pronounced. Age is one of many
variables thought to influence the public image of the police. It is to these variables
that we now turn.

We conclude this section with another methodological caveat. All of the survey
questions we have considered (and will consider) tend to force or channel
respondents to offer an opinion, when they may have no opinion or one that was so
weak as to manifest itself only because the issue was raised by the survey
researcher. What this means is that potentially many respondents who had not
heretofore given the question (e.g., confidence in the police) much thought are now
placed in a psychological state by virtue of being questioned that they feel pressure
to offer an opinion. One of the ways survey researchers have developed to relieve
that artificial pressure to offer an opinion that is weak or nonexistent is to replace
no opinion with ...or havent you thought much about this recently? The latter
provides those with very weakly held views to select a face-saving option, and it
more accurately portrays the state of the publics mind about the issue. Another
option is to preface all questions about the police with a general question about how
much the respondent has recently thought about the performance of the police.
This allows researchers to distinguish views based on how important the topic has
been to the respondent. If researchers are attempting to predict what citizens will
do as a consequence of their opinions about police (e.g., how they will vote,
whether they will participate in police programs, whether they will obey the law),
knowing how important this topic is to each citizen would be a valuable piece of
information.

V. Factors Influencing the General Image of the Police

This section considers some of the factors shaping the general image of the police.
It is incomplete by design, since some of the factors thought to influence the
general image are the specific components of the police image which we have not
covered yet. One of the most compelling arguments about the general image of the
police is that it is shaped by the outcomes the police produce (such as crime
control) and the processes they use to produce those outcomes (including fairness
and other aspects of the policing process). Since these will be covered in detail in
the remainder of this report, for now we focus on three kinds of influences on the
general image of the police: the personal characteristics of the citizen who is asked
to make the evaluation,[3] the nature of the contact that the citizen has recently
had with the police, and mass media portrayals of the police and crime.

Personal Characteristics of the Citizen

Research on the factors influencing the public image of the police typically draws on
the usual suspects: age, race, sex, income and socio-economic status,
victimization history (which will be explored later), and other individual level factors
thought to influence attitudes more generally. Since in matters of policing, race is a
crucial variable, we examine it apart from the others shortly.

Race. One of the most persistent findings in public opinion polls about the police is
that whites are more satisfied with police than nonwhites. This finding has been
consistent over the past four decades, emerging from dozens of studies and polls,
both in the United States and abroad (Bayley and Mendelsohn, 1969; Bradley, 1998;
Cao, Frank, and Cullen, 1996; Huang and Vaughn, 1996). For instance, in a study of
citizen satisfaction with police in 12 cities, conducted by the Bureau of Justice
Statistics in 1998, 90% of whites were satisfied with police, compared with 76% of
blacks and 78% of those of other races (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1999). These
aggregate racial differences held in 10 of the 12 cities. In Madison, Wisconsin, an
equal number of blacks and whites (97%) were satisfied with police, while in Tucson,
Arizona more blacks (91%) were satisfied than whites (88%).

Age. Most of the research shows a positive relationship between age and attitudes
toward police. Younger people routinely report less satisfaction with the police than
older people (Brown and Coulter, 1983; Hindelang, 1974; Jesilow, Meyer, and
Namazzi, 1995; Huang and Vaughn, 1996; Smith and Hawkins, 1973). The one study
not reporting such an effect was based on a sample of juveniles, suggesting that
age may matter when comparing juveniles to adults, but among juveniles, age may
not matter as much (Hurst and Frank, 2000). Since this conclusion is based on one
study in a single city, it should be viewed with caution. Another study reported that
elderly respondents held less favorable attitudes toward the police than younger
adults (Huang and Vaughn, 1996; Zevitz and Rettammel, 1990). These last two
research findings suggest that the relationship between age and attitudes toward
the police may be curvilinear. In practical terms, this means that juveniles are less
satisfied with the police than adults, but that among juveniles, age does not matter.
Then, as people age, their satisfaction with police continues to increase, until a
certain age level, beyond which attitudes toward the police begin to decrease again.
This is mere speculation on our part, since the research on the effects of age on
satisfaction with police is not sufficiently developed to warrant firm conclusions.

Gender. The relationship between gender and satisfaction with police is unclear. At
least two studies have found that males hold more positive views than females
(Brown and Coulter, 1983; Thomas and Hyman, 1977). Other studies have found
that females hold more positive views than males (see Huang and Vaughn, 1996, p.
35). Still another study has found that gender had no effect (Hurst and Frank, 2000).
We are not sure why the effects of gender are so erratic across different studies.

Socio-economic Status. Poorer people, and those from lower socio-economic classes
tend to report less satisfaction with police than those who are wealthier. For
instance, Benson (1981) found that respondents from lower social classes were less
satisfied with police. Similarly, Brown and Coulter (1983) found that income and
education both had a positive effect on satisfaction with treatment by the police (a
variable that can be viewed as both an indicator of the general image of the police
and as an indicator of the image associated specifically with police process).
However, both Hindelang (1974) and Jesilow, Meyer, and Namazzi (1995) report that
education had no effect on attitudes toward police. Decker (1981) notes an
important concern about the role of socio-economic status (SES). As we will discuss
shortly with regard to race, it is not clear whether it is the individuals socio-
economic status that influences attitudes toward police, whether it is the status of
the neighborhood, or whether these two variables interact. As we will demonstrate
shortly, if SES works in the same fashion as race, neighborhood effects may be
more important than individual attributes like SES.

Other influences. Race, age, gender, and SES are the individual variables most
commonly considered in research on citizen satisfaction with police. Nonetheless,
there are other scattered research findings that may be important to consider. For
instance, several researchers have found that people living in the suburbs have
better attitudes toward the police than people living in urban areas (Hindelang,
1974; Hurst and Frank, 2000; Thomas and Hyman, 1977). Another study confirms
what might be viewed as common sense, that juveniles with a commitment to
delinquent norms are less satisfied with police (Leiber, Nalla, and Farnworth, 1998).

Social scientists have not confirmed what these kinds of differences mean, but there
are two theoretical approaches worth considering. One is that people with different
characteristics have different experiences and that their opinions about the police
are grounded in the objective reality of those experiences. If youths are more likely
to be stopped, searched, cited, arrested, and warned than elderly people, then their
negative views of police are perfectly understandable as an outgrowth of the
different experiences of these two groups. The other theoretical perspective is that
people with different backgrounds have different expectations or standards for
police and different ways to interpret events. If a person brings a negative
preconception of the police to an experience, then they may be more inclined to
focus on police actions that are consistent with that viewpoint and ignore those
which are not, or they may simply interpret a given police action in a way that is
consistent with that viewpoint.

Neither of the above theories has been thoroughly tested. However, a growing body
of evidence suggests that racial differences in attitudes toward the police may not
be a simple function of individual race, but that they are also influenced by broader
social structural issues like (1) subcultural attitudes toward the police that are
independent of individual experiences, and (2) the characteristics of the
neighborhoods where respondents live. Decker (1981) found that community level
predictors of individual attitudes toward the police included neighborhood culture
and community beliefs about the police. Apple and OBrien (1983:83) found that "an
increase in the number of blacks in the neighborhood increases the opportunity for
blacks to associate with others who have negative attitudes toward the police, and
this results in an overall increase in their negative sentiment toward the police."
Jesilow, Meyer, and Namazzi (1995) found that not liking things about one's
neighborhood was associated with negative attitudes about the police. Leiber, Nalla,
and Farnworth (1998:169) concluded that the imposition of legal authority and
social control in certain neighborhoods engenders a pervasive resentment and
resistance, and that youthful residents of those neighborhoods harbor a general
disrespect for the law itself."
Neighborhood Effects. The most striking (and convincing) evidence for
neighborhood effects comes from a massive study called the Project on Human
Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. Sampson and Bartusch (1999) found that:

Once neighborhood economic disadvantage is taken into account, blacks' views are
found to be similar to whites'. Blacks appear to be more cynical toward or
dissatisfied with the police only because they are more likely to live where
disadvantage is concentrated. Even in neighborhoods where the rate of violent
crime is high, there is no difference between the races in attitudes toward the
police. Racial differences disappear when neighborhood context is considered. Thus,
residents' estrangement from the police is better explained by neighborhood
context than race.

Although this is one of the largest and most carefully constructed studies of
attitudes toward the police, it is still important to keep in mind that it is based on
only one city. One of the enduring lessons of social science is that research evidence
even good research evidence needs to be replicated over place and time before
it can be generalized.

Sampson and Bartuschs (1999) findings on the relationship between attitudes


toward police and the legitimacy of the law also highlight a theme pointed out by
researchers in the past. The publics image of the police is often part of a larger
attitudinal complex toward social, legal, and political institutions (LaFree, 1998). For
instance, Benson (1981) found that political alienation influences ratings of the
police, but the effect varies across social class and perceived integrity of the police.
Thus, those who are poor and/or nonwhite may not only express unfavorable
opinions toward the police, but may feel alienated from the political process more
generally. Brown and Coulter (1983) found that citizens who rate the quality of local
government higher tend to be more satisfied with the police. Albrecht and Green
(1977) found that attitudes toward the police are strongly related to attitudes
toward attorneys, judges, courts, and the legal system. Attitudes toward the police
are also related to attitudes toward the larger political system, though the
relationship is not as strong. Finally, attitudes toward the police are also related to
degree of involvement in the political system, though this relationship is the
weakest of those considered. Albrecht and Green (1977: 81) conclude that

The same respondents who express negativism toward their local police also feel
generally alienated from the legal and political process and more cynical about the
effectiveness of the operation of that process, especially in terms of its relationship
to them and others like them....The implications are both clear and important.
Programs designed to change public attitudes toward the police are not going to be
generally successful unless they consider the broader, fundamental value system of
which these attitudes are a part.

With this notion in mind, we will later (in section VI) examine the image of the police
compared with other major social institutions.
Nature of the Citizens Recent Contact with Police

One way to think about the influences on the publics general image of the police is
to consider the different ways in which members of the public might acquire their
impressions. People may acquire their images from direct personal experience
their contacts with the police. They may also acquire them indirectly through people
with whom they associate family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. And
people may acquire their images of the police through the mass media news,
entertainment, and educational. A fair amount of survey research has focused on
the impact of peoples direct experiences with the police on their general attitudes
toward the police (Dean, 1980; Gibson, 1989; Koenig, 1980; Roberts and Stalans,
1997:149-152; Scaglion and Condon, Tyler, 1990). The general thrust of this
research is that how citizens experience the police personally shows a significant
impact on their general assessment of the police. Positive experiences are
associated with a positive image and negative experiences with a negative image.
Negative experiences appear to have a more powerful effect than positive
experiences. The extent of the difference in impact between positive and negative
contacts varies with the type of measure of general support used by the researcher
and the composition of the survey sample.[4]

One recent study provides a detailed analysis of different aspects of the citizens
contact experience with police and its impact on the citizens general level of
satisfaction with the police department. Reisig and Chandek (2001) surveyed a
sample of citizens who had recently had contact with police in a Midwestern city.
They considered a number of possible influences on the citizens evaluation,
including the level of courtesy/friendliness of the officer, the citizens age, sex, and
race. The researchers found that the strongest predictor of the citizens satisfaction
with the police department in general was how courteous/friendly the officer was
with the citizen. This held for both traffic stops, where the citizens contact was
involuntary and breaking-and-entering encounters, where the contact was at the
citizens request. Interestingly, minority citizens tended to rate police significantly
lower than white citizens in traffic stops, but the effects of the officers demeanor
toward the citizen was over three times more powerful as a predictor of the citizens
over-all evaluation of the police department generally. The citizens race was not a
significant predictor of the over-all evaluation of police respondents gave in
breaking-and-entering contacts. The researchers expected that the citizens
expectations about what services the police would provide would exert an influence
on their general evaluations of the police.[5] They hypothesized that if the police
performed more service than expected, citizens would form a more positive general
impression of the police, and if they gave less than expected, they would form a
more negative overall impression. They found that although this was true for the
evaluations that citizens gave for the specific police encounter, that effect did not
transfer to their general impressions of the department.
The above studies examined the impact of the publics specific contacts with police
on their general views of police, but it is also possible, and indeed likely, that
peoples general views of police influence the way they evaluate a specific
experience. Two studies have examined this question, and both have found that
prior general (sometimes called global) views of police have a stronger influence
on the publics evaluations of a specific contact with police than their evaluation of
a specific contact has on the subsequent general evaluation of police (Brandl et al.,
1994; Tyler, 1990). One research team concluded,

These findings are consistent with the proposition that citizens evaluations of
their personal experiences with the police are affected by stereotyping and
selective perception; those who hold generally favorable views of the police are
more likely to evaluate their contacts with the police favorably, and those who hold
generally unfavorable views are more likely to evaluate their contacts unfavorably
(Brandl et al., 1994:131).

As valuable as police contact studies are, they overlook one important fact. The vast
majority of Americans rarely have direct contact with the police, which means that
these people will be drawing heavily on other sources to form their impressions of
the police. A large 1999 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey shows that 79 percent of
the respondents reported no face-to-face contact with the police in the previous
year, and only 4 percent reported more than one contact (see Exhibit 5) (Langan et
al., 2001). And the vast majority of the contacts people did have were routine traffic
stops and requests for assistance. Relatively few involved the citizen as a suspect or
victim in a serious crime or other emergency. So, the vast majority of the American
public has not had recent contact with the police and of those few who have had
recent contact, their experiences were not the sort of dramatic situations in which
their safety was immediately threatened or their freedom and reputations were at
stake. These peoples general impressions of the police when interviewed were thus
probably heavily influenced by (a) memories of their own experiences with police in
the more distant past, and (b) impressions given directly by individuals with whom
they have frequent contact, and (c) impressions given by the mass media.

We did not find survey research pertaining to category b above, but a few important
implications can be drawn from common sense. First, a police-citizen encounter can
have an impact that goes well beyond the immediate public participants if those
participants share their accounts and views of those experiences with their friends,
neighbors, and acquaintances. To take an extreme case, if the minister of a church
is treated rudely by a police officer, there is tremendous potential to magnify the
effects of that single event many-fold because of the ministers access to large
numbers of the public and his or her status among them. As community policing
continues to grow in popularity, many police agencies are in the business of
strengthening the potential influence of this kind of secondary impression of the
police. Under community policing, neighborhood and community groups are
encouraged to pay attention to police policies and practices, to provide guidance as
to community preferences, and even to participate in some police programs. This
approach is designed to create more public forums in which members of the public
share their past experiences and impressions of the police (Skogan and Hartnett,
1997). Where this occurs, results both positive and negative will be magnified by
these secondary sources of public impression.

Mass Media Portrayals of Police and Crime

We found a small body of research on the impressions of police that are formed
from mass media presentations. At the outset we stress that the number of such
studies is small and the number of unanswered questions is large, so conclusions
about mass media influences on the publics image of police are necessarily quite
tentative. We divide our discussion into two parts: news media and entertainment
media.

Before discussing evidence on each, we briefly describe three theoretical


approaches for explaining mass media effects on public attitudes about institutions
such as the police (Fox and Van Sickel, 2001:6-8). The hypodermic needle theory
assumes that the public takes in media presentations like a drug, which produces
powerful and long-term effects on their views of institutions such as the police.
Members of the public are viewed as independent consumers of these media
presentations, which they use to answer questions about the police and from which
they formulate attitudes and perceptions of the police. The limited effects theory
also assumes that the public uses the media for information, but it argues that
individuals evaluate that information in the context of what they know from other
sources such as direct contact, family, friends, etc. These pre-existing and more-
or-less independent impressions are believed to constitute powerful influences with
which media images must contend in the competition for influencing the publics
views of the police. Under these circumstances, the effects of the mass media are
expected to be present, but limited. The subtle/minimal effects theory falls in
between the hypodermic needle and subtle/minimal effects theories. Here, the
hypothesized media effects are neither overwhelming nor minimal, but rather work
in special ways by: (a) agenda setting instructing the public in what to think about
as the most important issues (e.g., whether policing is an important issue at a given
time and what aspects are important), (b) priming associating people or
institutions with particular issues (e.g., associating the police with crime fighting),
and (c) framing shaping how to think about a given issue by either identifying
general trends or covering specific events (e.g., how often the police use excessive
force in dealing with suspects). Thus, all three theories posit that the mass media
influence the publics views, although in different ways and to different degrees.
Evidence relevant to all three approaches can be found in research, but evidence is
mixed for all three models.

News Media Influences. The prominence of crime in the news and the importance of
the police as a source of news about crime inevitably focuses public attention on
the role of the police as crime fighters. Indeed, surveys of the public indicate that
up to 95 percent of the public consider the mass media as their main source of
information about crime (Surette, 1998:197). Most news stories about police are
focused on a specific crime, crime trends, or crime problems, and the police are
rarely the focus of the report. Thus, a lot of news places police in the background of
the story, mentioning them only inasmuch as they describe what they are doing
about a crime event or larger crime issue (Surette, 1998:69-70). These news stories
rarely provide a larger historical, sociological, or political context or interpretation
that would place the storys topic in a broader perspective. Thus, for example, most
stories about the police shooting of Diallo in New York failed to provide a broader
discussion of long-term trends and cross-city comparisons in the police use of lethal
force (which was declining at the time in New York and which placed New York below
many other large American cities in the rate of police shootings). Consumers of the
news are thus left to form their own impressions, and according to one researcher,
the implicit message stresses the inability to catch offenders but police are
portrayed as doing at least a fair job, while courts and corrections do poorly
(Graber, 1980:74-83). If the agenda-setting properties of news media influence are
valid under the framing theory, then one would expect that the public generally
would evaluate police primarily according to their ability to fight crime. However, as
we will later show, a number of studies suggest that at least in the 1990s the
public appears to give the processes of policing (e.g., how police treat citizens they
encounter) much greater priority than crime control in calculating their overall
evaluation of the police.

Given the luke-warm image of police as crime fighters provided by the news media,
it is remarkable that support for the police is as high as it is, leading one scholar to
speculate that although the media message is that the system does not work well, it
is still presented as the best hope against crime (Surette, 1998:226). By way of
offering a speculative explanation, we suggest that a careful reading of news stories
about the police would show that although the over all media image of police may
reflect poorly on police ability to achieve crime control, these stories either
explicitly or implicitly present the police as well-motivated and trying to do the
right thing. It may be the inferences the public makes about police objectives and
motivations that produce the positive general assessments about police that
routinely appear in national surveys.

Recently some researchers have identified a trend in news media coverage of the
criminal justice process that they characterize as tabloid justice (Fox and Van
Sickel, 2001). They argue that mass media have entered a time when they
concentrate on the sensationalistic, personal, lurid, and tawdry details of unusual
and high-profile trials and investigations (p. 3). This is characterized by three
trends observed in both mainstream and emerging news media formats: (a) treating
news as entertainment, (b) a proliferation or frenzy of media coverage of specific
cases, and (c) an increasingly attentive public that uses this information to
understand and evaluate the criminal justice system (that is, the hypodermic needle
model of mass media influence). Although much of the empirical research focuses
on the legal system generally and especially on cases at the stage of trial, the
researchers do present some results relevant to police.

First the researchers tested the effects of priming respondents to a national


survey to certain tabloid cases of the 1990s by asking them questions about their
familiarity with those cases.[6] The researchers assumed that virtually all of the
respondents knowledge of these cases would come from the news media. The
researchers found that respondents who were first questioned about these cases
revealed in a subsequent question that they expressed lower levels of confidence in
the police than those who were asked about tabloid questions after being asked
about their confidence in the police (Fox and Van Sickel, 2001:132). Next the
researchers directly asked the survey respondents about whether these cases had
influenced their confidence in the police. In four of the five tabloid cases analyzed in
this part of the study, the pattern of responses indicated that there was a net
reduction in confidence. The O. J. Simpson case was the most extreme, 62 percent
reporting a loss of confidence, 5 percent reporting an increase and 30 percent
reporting no change. The over all impact of all of the tabloid cases discussed with
survey respondents showed a net decline in confidence in the police of 23 percent
attributed to knowledge of tabloid cases.

The researchers concluded that exposure to these cases (presumably as a result of


news coverage) reduced the legitimacy of the police, and they attribute the
negative coverage of tabloid-style journalism. Actually, it seems more appropriate
to say that when people were reminded of these cases and asked to consider their
impact, those very people tended to believe that it reduced their confidence in
police. It is quite possible that this research overstates the scope of this effect for
two reasons. First, the survey mentioned only tabloid stories about police to the
respondents and did not mention any other kinds of media coverage that might
have predisposed the respondents to feel more positive about the police. That is,
the survey itself probably does not accurately replicate how people actually
consume and process news stories, which presumably would include a wider variety
of stories. Second, the respondents themselves may not have an accurate view of
how these stories actually affected their own confidence in the police. Simply by
asking the question, the researchers may have created in the respondents minds
an inclination to make a judgment one way or the other, when in fact the effect was
small, nonexistent, or even contrary to what they believe about themselves. In the
final analysis, it is not unreasonable to suppose that people exposed to negative
mass media images will have lower evaluations of the police, but it remains to be
demonstrated just how extensive this exposure is, and how influential media images
are compared to other sources of information.

Entertainment Media Influences. We consider entertainment media to include


accounts of police work through various communications media (print, broadcast,
recording) that are advertised as fiction or explicit entertainment (e.g., music, video
games). Also included are books, film, and television shows that claim to present
the reality of police work in an entertainment context. These are sometimes called
reality TV or info-tainment. We have not found an empirical literature on the
effects of entertainment media on public attitudes toward the police, although there
is a larger literature on the consumption of entertainment media (especially
television) on such things as fear of crime. The general conclusion is that television
consumption is associated with greater fear of crime and violence and greater
cynicism and distrust in social attitudes (Surette, 1998:212). The effects are not
uniform, however, and are especially related to the credibility of the information
source (suggesting the importance of examining the effects of the many reality
police shows now available). Print media have a greater influence on peoples
knowledge about crime and their adoption of crime prevention actions, likely due to
differences in content and style of presentation associated with each type of
medium and perhaps also differences in who tends to consume each type of
medium.

Although we do not present findings on the relationship of entertainment media


consumption on police specifically, we are able to report some general findings on
the nature of entertainment media content. Studies of entertainment media content
repeatedly demonstrate the obvious: the entertainment media present an
extremely distorted view of the nature of police work, one that stresses crime
fighting, police violence, and individualism (as exemplified by Dirty Harry) (Surette,
1998: 40-43). The entertainment media present police as effective in solving, but
not preventing, crime and as doing incident driven, not community- and problem-
oriented work. Effective law enforcement officers in the entertainment media are
those who eschew routine methods, often violating rules and laws, and take
exceptional measures to solve cases (involving weapons and highly sophisticated
technology). Private investigators and amateur private citizens prove far more
successful in solving television crimes than the police. Television police are more
positively presented than television attorneys, judges, and corrections officers, but
for every heroic officer portrayal, two others are incompetent and two others break
the law (Lichter and Lichter, 1983). Because of the focus on the exceptional and
spectacular, one crime and media expert concluded,

Whatever the [entertainment] media show is the opposite of what is true. In


every subject category crimes, criminals, crime fighters, the investigation of
crimes, arrests, the processing and disposition of cases the entertainment media
present a world of crime and justice that is not found in reality. Whatever the truth
about crime and violence and the criminal justice system in America, the
entertainment media seem determined to project the opposite. Their wildly
inaccurate and inevitably fragmentary images provide a distorted reflection of crime
within society and an equally distorted reflection of the criminal justice systems
response to crime. The lack of realistic information further mystifies the criminal
justice system, exacerbating the publics lack of understanding of it while
constructing a perverse topsy-turvy reality of it (Surette, 1998:47).

Police researchers have devoted little attention to the second-hand accounts that
may influence the police image. For example, it would be valuable to know just how
much and in what ways second-hand accounts of policing affect the general
impressions of citizens who have infrequent contact with the police as opposed to
those who have frequent contact. A working hypothesis is that citizens who have
frequent direct contact or who have friends and acquaintances who report
frequent direct contact will be much less affected by both positive and negative
entertainment media portrayals than those who experience such direct or second-
hand contact infrequently. The underlying assumption of this hypothesis is that
different sources of information compete with each other for influence. An
alternative hypothesis is that consumers of the media selectively perceive events
they observe in both the entertainment media and their personal experiences.
Under these conditions, the hypothesis would be that citizens would focus on
information in both the media and their experiences that tend to reinforce already
existing preconceptions.

Of course, entertainment media may play an important role in framing citizens


impressions and expectations about their police. Movies, television shows, and
novels that present police in a positive light can be expected to predispose citizens
more positively toward police generally especially those with little direct personal
contact with police. The proliferation of reality TV programs that show video clips
of police-citizen interactions may play an especially important role in shaping the
publics view of police in recent years (Surette, 1998). However, it is not clear
whether these reality TV portrayals tend to produce more positive or negative
images of the police.

VI. Police Image Compared to Other Major Social Institutions

If attitudes toward the police are enmeshed in a larger complex of attitudes toward
government, law, politics, and other social institutions, how well do the police fare in
comparison with these other institutions? Polling organizations have been asking
Americans about their confidence in various social institutions for a number of
years. Only in 1993 were the police added to this list, which now contains 13
institutions. Since 1993, the police have inspired either the second or third most
confidence of all the institutions listed. During that period, the public expressed the
most confidence in the military every year, with almost 65% of respondents on
average reporting either a great deal or quite a lot of confidence. Out of the eight
years with available data, the police came in third place four times, second place
three times, and tied for second place once. In terms of public confidence, the
police are in a neck-and-neck race for second place with the church and organized
religion; during the previous eight years, 56.5% of respondents, on average, report
having a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the police, compared with 56.25%
for the church and organized religion, 1999).
One observation about these data is noteworthy. While more than 56% of
respondents expressed confidence in the police in 2000, only 24% expressed
confidence in the criminal justice system. This was the lowest rating in the list, tied
only with Congress. It is unknown why the police, a major component of the criminal
justice system, fare much better in the eyes of the public than the criminal justice
system as a whole. One possibility is that respondents may associate the criminal
justice system with lawyers. As we will show later, lawyers are viewed by the public
as among the least honest and ethical professionals, generating levels of confidence
similar to those who sell cars or insurance. One possibility is that the public is
responding to the mission and motivations they attribute to police. If the police
mission is seen as bringing wrongdoers to justice and helping those who are
wronged, then that is a simpler, more easily conceived mission than one for the
criminal justice system. The courts in particular, operate in theory at least as an
adversarial system in which one side tries to convict wrongdoers and the other
attempts to get them acquitted or minimize their punishment. Such a construction
has a zero-sum quality, where the more one side wins, the more the other loses.
Faced with assessing a more complex role, perhaps many citizens select one aspect
or the other, and invariably find the courts wanting when they attempt to
accomplish both simultaneously.

Finally, a recent Roper survey suggests that the American people find that the
police are among the top five values for services received from their tax dollars
(Roper, 2001). Fifty-seven percent of the survey respondents rated police/law
enforcement as an excellent or good value. The services ranking higher than
police (from top to bottom) were military defense (63), medical and technological
research (61), public television (58).[7]

VII. Police Image from Community Surveys

Numerous municipal police agencies around the country conduct community


surveys to assess citizen attitudes toward issues related to crime and justice. Items
asking respondents about their overall image of their local police are almost always
included in these surveys. It is not uncommon for local police departments to
collaborate with criminal justice researchers with university affiliations when
conducting community surveys. These working relationships are usually mutually
beneficial. On the one hand, police executives are provided technical assistance in
constructing and administering the survey, as well as aid in data analysis and in
interpreting results. On the other, criminal justice researchers gain access to the
survey data to assess research hypotheses that may eventually appear in academic
journals. Research articles investigating citizen attitudes toward the police are fairly
common. For the most part, these surveys have consistently revealed a high level of
support for local police. As one might imagine, however, the quality of these
research reports varies considerably.
Instead of wading through a vast number of research articles of varying quality, we
can gain a good understanding of how citizens feel about the police in their cities by
looking to a recent study conducted by the Census Bureau under the auspices of the
Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the Office of Community Oriented Policing
Services (COPS)(Smith et al., 1999). Using rigorous survey research methods, the
Census Bureau conducted a large number of telephone surveys in 1998. The sample
consisted of 12 cities, which were located throughout the United States, whose
police departments community policing initiatives were at different stages of
development. Among other questions, citizens were asked, In general, how
satisfied are you with the police who serve your neighborhood? Results from the
survey showed quite clearly that a large majority of citizens residing in each city
were either very satisfied or satisfied with their local police department (see
Exhibit 6). The percentage of citizens responding positively to the question ranged
from a high of 97% (Madison, WI) to a low of 78% (Washington, D.C.). Given the
diversity of communities in this sample, the relatively small range in satisfaction
levels is remarkable. Eight of the twelve departments fall within the 84-89 percent
satisfaction range. The average satisfaction score across the 12 cities was 85%
(Smith et al., 1999:25). In sum, the most reliable available evidence suggests that a
considerable majority of citizens from city to city evaluate their local police in
favorable terms.

To interpret these highly favorable ratings of local police service to the respondents
own neighborhood, we should keep several things in mind. First, it is a well
established pattern that Americans tend to evaluate specific individuals who serve
or represent them more positively than they do the institutions in which those public
officials work. For example, while Congress routinely receives low marks of respect
and satisfaction, survey respondents also routinely rate their own congressperson
much higher. Second, the phrasing of the particular question used in the twelve-city
survey (focusing on satisfaction) is, as we have shown earlier, more likely to elicit
a positive response than a question phrased about confidence in the police.

Of course, we would expect more variation with a larger sample that included a
wider range of departments by size, region, and other characteristics. Even so, the
modest amount of variation across this rather diverse sample is surprising if one
expects that public opinion reflects differences in objective levels of performance. If,
as many police professionals assume, there is a great difference in the quality of
policing among communities, why is this not reflected in these surveys? Two
possibilities occur to us. One possible answer, which we explore below, is that the
critical differences in police performance occur, not from department to
department, but from neighborhood-to-neighborhood within departments. Although
this particular survey asked respondents to assess police service to their own
neighborhood, the survey did not construct its sample around neighborhoods, so we
are unable to compare satisfaction levels from neighborhood to neighborhood. We
also caution that over-all satisfaction scores can be very misleading if dissatisfaction
tends to be concentrated in certain groups of citizens (for example, by race or
wealth). A better way to make cross-department comparisons would be to provide a
breakdown by such factors as race and wealth to make it possible to see how each
department compares to others in dealing with the groups of citizens who have
traditionally shown more reluctance to support the police. In 10 of the 12 cities
white respondents were more satisfied with their local police than were African-
Americans. Overall, 90% of whites reported to be either very satisfied or
satisfied with the police. In contrast, 76% of African-Americans and 78% of other
minorities (e.g., Asians and Pacific Islanders) were either very satisfied or
satisfied. Despite these differences, it should be noted that the majority of
citizens from all racial groups rated the police favorably.

A second possible reason for the low level of variation in citizen satisfaction across
departments is that these departments differ in their styles of policing (as reflected
in what officers do and accomplish), but that the particular style a department
displays is closely matched to the preferences of most citizens in each city. It may
be that different styles produce similar levels of satisfaction because local police
departments are customizing their efforts to local preferences.

Although informative, the BJS/COPS survey results also limited in certain respects. In
particular, questions about community policing and ones neighborhood were asked
only to residents aged 16 or older (Smith et al., 1999:v). Accordingly, results from
the BJS/COPS survey do not provide an accurate assessment of how juveniles view
their local police because their responses were lumped together with adults. A
recently conducted study that surveyed public school children in Cincinnati, Ohio
sheds some light on how children view their local police. Hurst and Franks (2000)
sample consisted of 852 children from grades nine through twelve from three
schools in the greater-Cincinnati area. Results from their survey revealed that a
majority of students report that they trust the police (60%), like the police (50.1%),
were satisfied with the police in their neighborhood (54%), and thought police
officers were doing a good job (61%)(Hurst and Frank, 2000:196)(see Exhibit 7).
Using more sophisticated multivariate statistical techniques, the authors found that
differences in evaluations of local police existed between racial groups. In particular,
non-white students reported less favorable evaluations of the police when
compared to whites (Hurst and Frank, 2000:197).

VIII. Conclusion

Police in America enjoy relatively high levels of satisfaction, support, confidence,


and esteem from the public, but this is not necessarily cause for complacency.
There are two reasons for this. First, at least by a couple of indicators (public
confidence in the police generally and respect for the police in the citizens own
area), the image of the police appears to have been declining since the mid-to-late
1960s. Second, although American police still evoke a positive image for the
majority of the public, one might argue that Americans regardless of background
and status are socialized to expect high levels of performance from their police,
something that the police themselves encourage. A business that experiences even
15-20 percent levels of luke-warm-to-negative assessments from its customers
would have cause for grave concern. Of course, the police business is in some
respects like few others because many clients are involuntary, but police leaders
of today often present themselves as adopting the perspective and methods of
successful private sector enterprises. The public may begin to hold police leaders
accountable for their promises about making their organizations results-oriented
and customer-friendly. This may well change expectations faster than
performance, which can ultimately result in a less positive image.

From a practical perspective, when even modest levels of negativity and low esteem
are concentrated disproportionately in certain groups of the public, this can become
highly problematic for the police especially when members of these groups begin
to coalesce and organize around these feelings. They usually mobilize to call
attention to their unhappiness and may undertake to persuade others that things
need to change. When they are successful, nearly always the first thing to change is
who heads the police organization. Social scientists have not systematically
examined how well patterns in the general public image of the police predict various
forms of support and resistance for police and police leaders. This would be a
valuable topic for future research.

CHAPTER 3

PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF THE OUTCOMES OF POLICING

I. Introduction

In this chapter we review research on outcome-oriented elements. Outcome-


oriented elements refer to goals citizens expect the police to achieve. These
elements include goals that have long been part of the police mission, such as
solving crimes. Outcome-oriented elements also fall under the rubric of community
policing, such as reducing fear of crime and developing a sense of community
among neighborhood residents. These outcome measures are frequently assessed
using community surveys that ask citizens their feelings and perceptions of crime
and justice issues.

Are outcome-oriented elements linked to citizens overall image of the police?


Contemporary criminal justice researchers believe they are related. What is the
nature of the relationship? Research shows that citizens who evaluate the quality of
life in their neighborhood in favorable terms are more likely to report a positive
overall image of the police. Citizens appear to hold the police accountable for
neighborhood quality of life. Research also shows that citizens believe their
neighbors share responsibility for preventing crime and should work with police to
address neighborhood issues. In other words, citizens who believe they can trust
their neighbors also perceive neighborhood conditions positively and also hold the
police in higher regard. Before exploring this issue in greater detail, we will identify
some variables that contemporary police agencies commonly use to measure
outcomes (or performance).

II. Different Ways to Measure Police Outcomes

As the movement toward community policing and away from a pure crime-
fighting model (i.e., reduce crime and victimization) continues, police departments
have looked for new measures of police performance. Traditional performance
measures, such as crime rates, arrests, clearance rates, and response times, are
still used regularly. Contemporary researchers argue that these measures of
performance are limited because they fail to capture the many important
contributions that police make to the quality of life (Alpert and Moore, 1993:110).
Community policing calls upon officers to build meaningful relationships with the
communities they serve and work with residents to address neighborhood problems.
So, many police executives regularly supplement traditional performance indicators
with a host of measures that reflect police efforts to improve citizen quality of life.

David Bayley (1994) calls these outcome-oriented elements direct-soft


performance indicators. Direct measures refer to what police have achieved over
time, and soft indicators focus on subjective perceptions of change (Bayley,
1994:97-98). To understand the different types of outcome-oriented elements
better, we make two important distinctions. First, we can identify outcomes related
to traditional police efforts concerning crime, such as providing protection, solving
cases, and prevention. We term this the police-crime dimension. The second
distinction concerns the community. Here, we take into account two factors:
citizens perceptions of the social conditions of their neighborhood and residents
perceptions of crime. The former, which we call the community-social dimension,
includes measures that gauge police attempts to strengthen a neighborhoods
social fabric. Among these measures include social cohesion (e.g., trust among
neighbors; see Sampson et al., 1997), sense of community (e.g., mutual feelings of
belongingness; see Chavis and Wandersman, 1990), collective security (e.g.,
watching each others home; see Cao et al., 1996), and integration (e.g., neighbors
help on another; see McGarrell et al., 1997). Citizens perceptions of neighborhood
crime (or the community-crime dimension) include such measures as fear of
crime, perceived crime, perceived social disorder and physical decay, and risk of
victimization. These dimensions along with the corresponding measures are
presented in Exhibit 8.
Some outcomes reflect traditional police practices, such as solving crimes, while
others tap into police initiatives consistent with community policing that address
quality of life issues, such as neighborhood sense of community and fear of crime.

III. Police-crime Outcome-oriented Elements: Results from National Polling Data

National polls have used outcome-oriented items tapping into traditional goals of
policing, such as preventing crime and protecting citizens. Shaw and colleagues
(1998) provide the results from six national polls asking citizens to rate police
protection in their locality. When averaged together, results show that 60% of
citizens believe police protection in their area is either excellent or good (see
Exhibit 9). Specifically, results from the 1983, 1986, and 1992 Roper Poll show that
a majority of citizens favorably rate police ability to provide protection (61%, 56%,
and 67%, respectively). The poll conducted in 1993 by the Princeton Survey
Research Associates revealed that 73% of adult Americans rate police protection as
either excellent or good. The 1994 Harris poll reported similar results. The
results from the Gordon Black Corporation poll appear inconsistent with the other
five polls in that less than half (35%) of respondents rated police protection
favorably. One must use caution when interpreting these results because, in
comparative terms, the number of persons sampled was quite low (sample size =
482). Taking this into account, public ratings of the quality of police protection
appear to have declined in the 1980s but had increased in the 1990s. Without
knowing what made citizens feel more and less safe during these time periods, we
can only speculate about the causes of this trend. Perhaps the increase in police
efforts in a highly publicized war against drugs and increased efforts to work
closely with the community through community policing encouraged more people to
rate police protection higher.

Whatever the cause, by the mid-1990s, public confidence in the police capacity to
deal with crime had achieved impressive levels. Using data from the 1995 National
Opinion Survey on Crime and Justice (NOSCJ), Huang and Vaughn (1996:38)
assessed public opinion of three traditional police outcomes. In particular, they
asked respondents how much confidence they had in the ability of the police to
(a) provide protection from crime, (b) to solve crime, and (c) to prevent crime (see
Exhibit 10). Results from the NOSCJ showed that a sizable majority of respondents
expressed confidence in the police to protect citizens from crime (74%), solve crime
(74%), and prevent crime (65%) (Huang and Vaughn, 1996:38). The public rated the
reactive capacity of the police to deal with crime (that is, to solve it) higher than
their capacity to prevent it. It is not obvious to us what it means to protect citizens
from crime. On the face, it could be both reactive and preventive, but given that its
level is identical to the reactive measure, it would appear that the public views it as
a predominantly reactive enterprise.
Although the results from the NOSCJ were quite positive, Huang and Vaughn (1996)
did observe differences across social groups. The authors found that African-
Americans reported lower levels of confidence in the police to provide protection
from crime (60%), solve crime (61%), and prevent crime (56%) when compared with
whites (77%, 79%, and 68%, respectively) and Hispanics (83%, 74%, and 73%,
respectively) (Huang and Vaughn, 1996:40). They did not find gender differences in
confidence for the three police outcomes. In sum, both men and women expressed
a high level of confidence in police to provide protection from crime, solve crime,
and prevent crime.

Worrall (1999) used more sophisticated statistical techniques to assess differences


across different groups using the NOSCJ data. Worrall did not find differences in
confidence in the police to protect citizens from crime, solve crime, and prevent
crime among respondents with different incomes and educational backgrounds,
between men and women, nor among respondents of different ages (Worrall,
1999:59). In contrast to Huang and Vaughn (1996), Worrall (1999) observed no
differences regarding race across the three outcome-oriented variables. How can we
explain this inconsistency? The lack of observed differences across racial groups
was likely due to Worralls (1999) coding of the race variable. Specifically, Worrall
(1999:55-56) lumped African-Americans and Hispanics into one category (termed
nonwhite). Huang and Vaughns (1996) analysis shows that Hispanics and African-
American citizens express drastically different levels of confidence in the ability of
police to produce preferred outcomes. We can reasonably conclude, then, that
Worralls (1999) combining African-Americans and Hispanics into one category
nullified the differences observed by Huang and Vaughn (1996).

IV. Community Outcome-oriented Elements and the Publics General Image of the
Police

Research investigating the link between community outcome-oriented elements and


the publics general image of the police are emerging in the literature. These recent
efforts provide considerable support for the notion that community outcome-
oriented elements, such as citizens perceptions of neighborhood conditions, affect
the publics general image of the police.

Using community survey data from Indianapolis, Indiana and St. Petersburg, Florida
collected as part of the Project on Policing Neighborhoods Reisig and Parks
(2000) found that several community outcome-oriented elements influenced
citizens overall satisfaction with police. In particular, citizens who perceived crime
as more problematic, believed that safety was an issue, perceived incivilities (e.g.,
social disorder and physical decay) as widespread in their neighborhood, and rated
their neighborhood poorly, also expressed lower levels of satisfaction with their local
police departments. Reisig and Parkss (2000) statistical techniques allowed them to
adjust their findings for several factors that also influence that publics overall
image of the police, such as prior contact with the police, perceptions of police
resource distribution, familiarity with individual police officers, neighborhood
poverty, and official neighborhood crime rates. Results from their analysis led Reisig
and Parks (2000) to conclude that citizen community outcome-oriented elements
are the most important factors influencing the publics image of local police. They
did not include most of the process measures described in Chapter 6 (e.g., police
fairness, manners, responsiveness), so we are unable to use this study to compare
the effects of outcome and process image.

Additional research supports Reisig and Parkss (2000) finding. Using community
survey data collected in Cincinnati, Ohio, Cao and his colleagues (1996) found that
citizens who believed that neighborhood disorder (e.g., noisy neighbors, litter, and
loitering teenagers) was a problem also reported less confidence in the police. What
is more, Cao and colleagues (1996:11) found that citizens who believed their
neighbors were willing to help provide protection from crime (termed informal
collective security) reported higher levels of confidence in police. Similarly, Percy
(1986:80) found that citizens in Fort Worth, Texas who perceived that crime was
getting worse reported lower levels of satisfaction with police service in their
neighborhood. Hurst and Frank (2000:197) found that juveniles who reported that
their neighborhood had higher crime rates than other residential settings also
reported less general support for their local police. Smith et al. (1999:26) analysis of
the BJS/COPS 12 city survey data also revealed that respondents who feared crime
were also less satisfied with the police who serve their neighborhoods.

The evidence from available research reports is clear: community outcome-oriented


elements influence citizens overall image of the police in their communities. We
provide a summary of the research studies investigating the link between
community outcome-oriented elements and overall police image in Exhibit 11.[8]

V. Responsibility for Crime Control: Neighborhood- and Citizen-level Differences

As best we can tell, systematic comparisons of outcome-oriented elements between


neighborhoods do not exist. Neighborhood-level studies have focused on whether
citizens residing in different neighborhoods share the view that controlling
neighborhood crime is the responsibility of police and citizens. Questions of this
type are relevant. After all, many community policing programs involve an active
role for citizens. That is, citizens are encouraged to work with police to control crime
and social disorder.
Research shows that a good portion of citizens share the view that controlling crime
is a shared responsibility. Dunham and Alperts (1988) Miami study asked citizens
whether only the police can control crime. The analysis revealed that residents
from a middle-class white neighborhood, a low-income black neighborhood, and an
upper-middle-class black neighborhood disagreed with this statement. However,
residents from two Cuban neighborhoods were generally supportive of the
traditional view that controlling crime was the responsibility of the police. These
findings suggest that differences in attitudes toward crime control responsibility are
similar across race and class, but differences exist along ethnic lines.

Another neighborhood study, which used community survey data from a small
university town in a northwestern state, revealed that residents from four
neighborhoods all disagreed that only the police can control crime (Reisig and
Giacomazzi, 1998). What is more, these neighborhoods differed significantly in
family income, home ownership, and occupation. These findings provide support for
Dunham and Alperts (1988) conclusion that attitudes toward crime control
responsibility do not vary across neighborhoods characterized by different levels of
socioeconomic status. In addition, the neighborhoods included in Reisig and
Giacomazzis (1998) study also differed in perceptions of neighborhood disorder,
fear of crime, and integration. In other words, no matter the socioeconomic status
of the neighborhoods, and despite differences in levels of perceived ills across
neighborhoods, citizens from these different neighborhoods viewed crime control as
the responsibility of both the police and citizens (Reisig and Giacomazzi, 1998:554,
560-1).

Webb and Marhsall (1995) also addressed the question of responsibility for crime
control, but adopted the citizen as a unit of analysis as opposed to neighborhoods.
Their multivariate analysis revealed that Hispanic residents were more likely than
whites to support the notion that only the police can control crime. Nevertheless,
they also found that differences did not exist between men and women, across
different age groups, nor between blacks and whites (Webb and Marshall, 1995:57).
Results from Webb and Marshalls (1995) study also supported Dunham and Alperts
(1988) earlier finding that attitudes toward crime control responsibility vary across
ethnic lines. Specifically, Hispanics are more likely to hold a view that is consistent
with the professional model of policing.

VI. Conclusions

Most of the research on the publics views of the capacity of police to produce
desired outcomes has focused on crime-related outcomes. We found considerable
fluctuation in public perceptions, depending upon the year and the polling firm. In
general, substantial majorities of the public offer positive assessments of the police
ability to achieve crime-focused outcomes. Less favorable assessments were more
heavily concentrated among African Americans compared to white and Hispanic
citizens. Interestingly, citizens appear to view crime control as a jointly held
responsibility between the police and the public.

CHAPTER 4

PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF POLICING PROCESSES

I. Introduction

There are many ways to measure service quality. A waiter might be friendly and
helpful but record the order incorrectly. A clerk at the Department of Motor Vehicles
might process paperwork quickly and efficiently, but ignore the hellos, goodbyes,
and other basic niceties of a personal transaction. Generally as citizens and
consumers, we are pleased by service transactions that are successful on all
dimensions, we ignore those that are successful in some regards but not others, and
we are outraged at those featuring service that is poor all-around. Research on
service quality in the private sector has been helpful for delineating some of the
dimensions that citizens, consumers, and clients associate with quality service
(Parasuraman, et al., 1988). Based on this research, Mastrofski (1999) has outlined
six characteristics that Americans associate with quality service delivery from their
police: attentiveness, reliability, responsiveness, competence, manners, and
fairness. He characterizes these dimensions as constituting a style of policing
known as policing for people.

We do our best to organize this chapter according to the six dimensions of service
quality outlined by Mastrofski. That is difficult for at least two reasons. First, in
research, as in life, not everything fits neatly within the little boxes or categories we
would like to use. Terminology varies from study to study: one study may examine
the manners of the police, while others look at their politeness or their
friendliness. And, as we learned in previous chapters, though these differences in
terminology may appear subtle, they often produce important differences in how we
view the public image of the police. Despite some difficulty in slotting all of the
previous research findings about the public image of police processes, these six
dimensions are a useful tool for making sense out of a large body of research over
the past several decades. Second, there is an uneven amount of research on these
categories. For instance, fairness has probably produced the greatest amount of
research, but very little nationally is known about the public image of police in some
of the other categories like reliability or competence. In addition, we add a seventh
dimension that we view as generic to all occupations and not specific to police:
integrity. Although integrity is not an issue unique to policing, it is a crucial issue for
the public image of the police worldwide.

II. Generic Dimensions of the Quality of Service


Attentiveness
We were unable to locate any studies on how the public feels about the
attentiveness of the police. Perhaps the closest we can come in addressing
attentiveness is looking at surveys of crime victims. For instance, Homant, Kennedy,
and Fleming (1984) found, like many other studies, that crime victims have less
satisfaction with the police. However, unlike many of the studies linking
victimization experience to satisfaction with police, they also found that "a policy of
providing the citizen with some crime prevention counseling can go a long way
toward undoing the negative effects of victimization on attitudes toward the police"
(p. 331). In other words, while research has demonstrated clearly that victims are
less satisfied than non-victims with police, when the police go out of their way to
help victims prevent future victimization, they are able to mitigate the effect of the
incident on their public image. For this reason, the authors conclude that
victimization represents not only a crime problem, but a community relations
problem. While this one study does not provide definitive evidence that
attentiveness influences the public image of the police, it does suggest that this
hypothesis deserves further research.

Reliability

According to Mastrofski (1999:2), People expect a degree of predictability in what


police do. They want service that is timely and error-free. Once again, we are not
aware of any studies that have directly examined the impact of reliability on the
public image of the police. However, there is some indirect evidence that might
provide some clues about the role of reliability. When service is reliable, it is
predictable. As Mastrofski argues, McDonalds succeeds not because the cuisine is
superb but because the food is predictable and more-or-less error free (p. 2). A
McDonalds hamburger is pretty much the same whether you order it in Boston or
Budapest, Chicago or Shanghai. Like a McDonalds customer, citizens have
expectations about how the police will behave.

Researchers have examined citizen satisfaction with police from several theoretical
perspectives that take into account these expectations. For instance, Reisig and
Chandek (2001) applied a concept from consumer psychology called expectancy
disconfirmation to the study of citizen satisfaction in police-citizen encounters.
They found that citizen satisfaction with police in both voluntary (such as seeking
assistance) and non-voluntary (such as traffic stop) encounters is influenced by the
citizens initial expectations about how the police would behave. Not surprisingly,
they found that when police performance exceeded the citizens prior expectations,
the citizen tended to be more satisfied with how the officer handled that event.
When police performance fell below prior expectations, then the citizens tended to
give police performance lower ratings for that event.
Erez (1984) found something a little different. She applied the concept of
distributive injustice... [which] occurs when a person does not get the amount of
reward he expects to get in comparison with the reward another person gets" (p.
1281). Erez (1994) found that offenders who were arrested were not less satisfied
with police than non-offenders because the behavior of the police met their
expectations. She surmised that offenders "become accustomed to harassment and
thus become desensitized and indifferent" (p. 1297). Even though the evidence on
reliability is weak, taken together, these studies suggest that citizens accept service
from the police that meets or exceeds their expectations.

Responsiveness

Another element of police service that citizens presumably value is responsiveness.


Huang and Vaughn (1996) found that 78% of respondents had favorable attitudes
about the tendency for police in their community to respond quickly to calls for
help. However, Hispanics and African Americans reported less favorable attitudes
than whites. Brown and Coulters study of police responsiveness in Tuscaloosa,
Alabama found that citizen satisfaction with police response times was affected by
prior victimization experience, age, race, income, and participation in the political
process. Citizens who had been victimized were significantly less satisfied with
response times, as were those who were younger, nonwhite, poorer, who felt less
safe, or who participated less in the political process. Prior contact with police,
gender, perceived crime rates in relation to neighboring jurisdictions, and education
all had no effect on assessments of response time. Percy (1980) found that while
actual response time had an influence on overall satisfaction with police, expected
response time also played a major role. The policy implications are similar to our
discussion in the previous section on citizen expectations: the public image of the
police can be improved if police provide citizens with a realistic estimate of the time
it will take police to arrive.

Competence

Another element of good service delivery is simply getting the job done right
(Mastrofski, 1999:2). For example, if crime prevention is an appropriate goal for
police, then perhaps it is fair to ask the public whether the police can give the public
in general and victims in particular useful tips on avoiding crime. And given the
pervasiveness of handling domestic disputes and the growing expectation that the
police should play a key role in reducing repeat problems from the same household,
this would seem to reflect some expectation that the police should know how to
resolve these disputes so that they do not recur. Citizens may also judge
competence in resolving disputes according to such criteria as taking charge or
using the least coercion necessary to get the job done (standards that are widely
endorsed among police officers). Or, they may define competence in terms of the
mode of resolution selected (e.g., getting both parties to agree on a course of
action, banishing one party, arresting one or both disputants, etc.). At this point we
can only speculate on how the public defines competence in resolving disputes.
Indeed, we are unaware of any studies that attempt to illuminate how the public
actually defines police competence in any of a variety of situations and problems
the police routinely confront.

There are a number of reasons why police should be concerned with the definitions
citizens use to define competence. First, where professional definitions of
competence are strikingly different from those used by the public, the police should
carefully examine both to see whether either should be changed. If, for example,
the public believes that competent crime scene investigations should always involve
dusting for prints, the police department might consider strategies to inform the
public about when this activity is unlikely to produce useful evidence. Or suppose
that large numbers of the public expect that a competent police response to a
reported burglary includes taking the time to educate the victim on how to reduce
the risk of future victimizations. This may suggest the need for the department to
require officers to provide this information routinely. It would be especially valuable
to know whether the public tends to define police competence in terms of what
officers do or what they accomplish. Because it is often difficult for the public to
observe directly many of the outcomes they care about (e.g., reduced crime and
disorder in the neighborhood), they may tend to rely on proxy measures things
they can observe directly. Thus, competent police may be viewed as those who
take a detailed report, because the complainant assumes that the chances of
apprehending the offender and recovering stolen property are much greater when
all of the information they have is available for follow-up investigators. We suspect
that citizens expectations about competence are heavily influenced by mass media
portrayals of the police, which we previously noted tend to present a highly
distorted, and unrealistic picture of police work.

Another reason to be concerned about the publics image of police competence is


that it may have a strong influence on citizens general satisfaction with and
support for the police. In section V of this chapter we review the findings of one
study that indicates that citizens views of police competence do indeed have a
significant impact on the citizens confidence in and support for the police (Tyler,
2001a).

Manners

Citizens also want police officers who are polite and friendly, who are well
mannered, who have a good temperament, and who treat them well. According to
Huang and Vaughn (1996), the vast majority of Americans (78%) hold favorable
attitudes on the friendliness of the police. However, like other elements of police
image, the public is not uniform in its assessment, since those respondents who
were younger, unmarried, male, and black expressed the least favorable opinions.
Huang and Vaughns (1996) thorough review of the research concluded: "research
suggests that police temperament, politeness, and deportment are important
contributors in citizen opinions of police friendliness" (p. 39; also see Brandl and
Horvath, 1991; Garofalo, 1977; Hindelang, 1974; Lasley, 1994; Murty et al., 1990).
This finding is not limited to the United States. Research in Britain also shows that
manners matter (Bradley, 1998; Skogan, 1994). For instance, Stone and Pettigrew
(2000) found in their study of police stop-and-frisk practices in England that
negative feelings from the stops resulted when officers were "patronising, arrogant,
aggressive or intimidating" (page iv).

Three Harris polls have asked random samples of American adults to rate the police
in their community on being helpful and friendly. In 1992, 73% of respondents
rated police as excellent or very good on this dimension. By 1999, this figure
had dropped to 68%, and by 2000 it had risen to 74%. Perhaps more importantly,
the 2000 Harris Poll also provides some evidence about how citizens view the
friendliness and helpfulness of police in relationship to other elements of policing.
Exhibit 12 shows that citizens view the police as more successful in being helpful
and friendly than in responding quickly, refraining from using force, treating people
fairly, preventing crime, and solving crime. This is both good and bad news. On one
hand, the number of citizens viewing the police as helpful and friendly is quite high.
On the other hand, it is curious that the public views the police as more helpful and
friendly than responsive, fair, or effective. We now explore the public image of the
fairness of the police.

Fairness

Of the seven dimensions of service quality discussed in this section, fairness is the
one that has generated the greatest amount of research. Therefore we will spend
substantially more space sorting through the findings of this research. Research on
juveniles by Leiber, Nalla, and Farnworth (1998) has identified several attributes
thought to contribute to the perception that police are unfair, including: being
nonwhite, having delinquent attitudes, prior contact with police, low socio-economic
status, and having been wrongly accused. Smith and Hawkins (1973) found that
education, income, occupation, and sex had no effect on citizen ratings of police
fairness. Both studies, as well as others that we will discuss shortly, found that race
has an important effect on perceptions of fairness. Stone and Pettigrew (2000)
found in their British study that "public trust and confidence is primarily based on
being treated fairly and with respect and being given a good reason for the stop,
rather than on changes in procedure" (page iii).
In one important way, the findings here parallel the findings we have reviewed in
other sections of this report, with race exhibiting the strongest impact on
perceptions of fairness. In Huang and Vaughns (1996) national survey, 78% of
respondents expressed favorable attitudes about police fairness, with African
Americans, younger, single, and low-income respondents reporting less favorable
views. The effect of race on perceptions of police fairness has been consistently
documented in the research, with African Americans expressing the belief that they
are treated less fairly than whites by police (Biderman, et al., 1967; Huang and
Vaughn, 1996; Smith and Hawkins, 1973; Sullivan et al., 1987). The most recent
evidence confirms that this longstanding trend still holds in the United States. A
Harris poll administered in 2000 found that while 69% of whites thought that police
in their community treated all races fairly, only 36% of blacks believed this to be
true (Pastore and Maguire, 1999, p. 110).

As in other sections of the report, the most important question here is whether it is
the race of the individual that is most important, or whether the race effects found
in this body of research are a product of larger social forces, such as a racial
subculture or composition of the neighborhood where the individual lives. Once
again, there is a small body of research to draw on in answering this question,
though there is not enough evidence to draw firm conclusions at this point. For
instance, Smith and Hawkins (1973) interpret their race effect as evidence of a"sub-
cultural phenomenon of uniform hostility" for the police (p. 138). Evidence from a
study of juveniles by Leiber, Nalla, and Farnworth (1998) found that minorities and
those with less economic security perceive lower levels of fairness by police, but
number of parents in the home, and the desirability of the neighborhood both had
no effect. Since disadvantaged neighborhoods often feature single parent
households and are perceived as being less desirable, these findings are contrary to
the notion that neighborhood is important. On the other hand, other findings in the
same study "imply that, quite aside from the nature of police encounters with
juveniles, the imposition of legal authority and social control in certain
neighborhoods engenders a pervasive resentment and resistance, and that youthful
residents of those neighborhoods harbor a general disrespect for the law itself" (p.
169).

Erez (1984) found that police did not chase, question, or warn blacks more than
whites, though they did have these contacts with offenders more than non-
offenders. Thus, the differences between black and white assessments of police
treatment cannot be explained by blacks having had more of these contacts with
the police. Blacks were searched more than whites however. Based on these
findings, she concluded that something other than actual experience may account
for blacks' negative assessment of the police (p. 1297). Some of the reasons she
mentions include (a) police are seen as part of an oppressive white regime, (b) their
attitudes may be shaped by observing, rather than experiencing, police misconduct,
or (c) that blacks expect more from police than they get.
Koenig (1978) found that the strongest declines in evaluation of the police were
seen among those who "had experienced, or personally observed, what they
perceived to be improper field practices" (p. 246). These included: impolite or rude
treatment, unfair treatment when arrested or suspected of a crime, physical
mistreatment, a police officer covering up another officer's wrong-doing, a police
officer taking sides in an argument between citizens, and an officer not performing
required duties. 13% of the respondents claim to have personally observed one or
more of these instances of misconduct, while 26% "claimed secondhand knowledge
of situations involving these practices" (p. 246).

Taken together, these findings suggest that racial disparities in assessments of


police fairness may be a function of the areas where whites and nonwhites,
particularly African-Americans, live and spend most of their time. Although African-
Americans may not have experienced contact with the police themselves, they may
be exposed secondarily to unfair police treatment by witnessing such events in their
neighborhoods or hearing about it from friends. If racial disparities in the public
image of police fairness are shaped vicariously through stories of police misconduct
endemic in African-American subcultures or in neighborhoods primarily occupied by
African-Americans, then police agencies will need to focus their image-repair efforts
in these hot spots of discontent. The implication is that a generalized public
relations effort may be less effective at improving the image of police among
African Americans than a more concentrated effort in African American
neighborhoods to change both the behavior of the police and the perceptions of the
citizens.

What other kinds of evidence exist about how Americans view the fairness of the
police? Exhibit 13 shows the results of three Harris polls asking respondents to rate
the fairness of the police in their community. In 1992, 63% of respondents rated the
fairness of the police as either excellent or very good. By 2000, this figure had risen
to 67%.

Another more extreme indicator of how Americans perceive the fairness of the
police is the percentage who fear being arrested when innocent. Exhibit 14 shows
the results of two Harris polls asking this question. 1999, 22% of respondents said
they feared being arrested though they were in fact innocent; by 2000, this figure
dropped to 17%.

Integrity
Although researchers have spent a substantial amount of time probing police
integrity, it is not an issue that has received much attention in the public opinion
literature. Nonetheless, some research findings are useful for drawing limited
conclusions. Since 1976, the Gallup Organization has done several national polls on
the honesty and ethical standards of a number of occupations (20 in 1977 and 32
in 2000). In 1977, the first year that police were included in the poll, 37% of
respondents rated the honesty and ethical standards of police as high or very
high. The police ranked sixth of the 20 occupations included in 1977, finishing
behind clergy (61%), pharmacists (59%), medical doctors (51%), college teachers
(46%), and bankers (39%). Exhibit 15 shows the trend for all of the years in which
data were available between 1977 and 2000. Clearly, the public image of the
honesty and ethical standards of police has improved during this period, albeit with
considerable fluctuation. By the year 2000, 55% of respondents rated the honesty
and ethical standards of police as high or very high. Several new occupations
were added to the list over the years; by 2000, the police ranked tenth of the 32
occupations included in the list.[9] One noteworthy feature of the trend in Exhibit 15
is that some of the year-to-year fluctuations are fairly dramatic. It is not known what
drives these yearly fluctuations, but as we will examine shortly, one explanation
may be major public image crises like the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles.
Understanding the role of such incidents on the public image of the police is one of
the most important unanswered questions in the body of research reviewed in this
report.

Recall that in this section we have been examining qualities that are presumably
generic across the service industries, from public to private. These seven generic
dimensions are related to more specific processes that are unique to each industry.
For instance, there are a number of practices in policing, like use of force or stop
and search procedures, that span across these categories (such as fairness and
competence), but are not found in other service industries like restaurants, welfare
offices, or auto repair shops. The seven generic dimensions of service quality that
we have reviewed in this section are important, but it is also important to look at
those aspects of service quality that are unique to policing. That is the task of the
next section.

III. Police-specific Dimensions of the Quality of Service

Policing is one of a handful of service professions that asks service providers to


deliver services to clients who both request their assistance (voluntary clients) and
who do not want their attentions (involuntary clients). This dual nature of policing
has been likened to forging an iron fist inside a velvet glove, where punitive actions
toward (usually) involuntary clients represent the iron fist and assistance aspects
to voluntary clients represent the velvet glove (Mastrofski, 1988). Naturally,
individual citizens who feel the velvet glove aspects will have more positive
feelings about their contact with police than those who experience the iron fist.
Conversely, most of the public relations problems which the police have
experienced come from the iron fist activities. In this section, we examine the
public image of two realms of coercive police behavior: stops and searches, and use
of force.

Stops and Searches

Racial differences in citizen perceptions of police stop and search behavior have
been identified in several studies. A 1999 Gallup poll of 2,006 adults found that only
11% of respondents felt that they had been stopped by police because of their
racial or ethnic background. There were pronounced differences by age, sex, and
race however. For instance, only 6% of whites reported having been stopped
because of their race or ethnicity, compared with 42% of blacks. Males were more
likely than females, and younger respondents were more likely than older
respondents to report having been stopped due to race or ethnicity, (Pastore and
Maguire, 1999:111).

In a 1999 national study of contacts between the police and the public, Langan and
his colleagues found that most drivers (84%) thought they had been stopped for a
legitimate reason. Age had no influence on perceived legitimacy of the stop, but
there were significant differences by race and gender. Following are the percentage
of each category rating the stop as legitimate: Men (82%), Women (87%), Whites
(86%), Blacks (74%), and Hispanics (82%). Of the estimated 19.3 million drivers
pulled over by police, 90% thought the police had behaved properly during the stop.
Once again, females gave higher ratings than males, and whites gave higher ratings
than blacks and Hispanics. Only two age categories differed significantly from the
others: teenagers and drivers in their twenties gave lower ratings than other
drivers, particularly drivers in their fifties.

In the same study, nearly 1.3 million drivers were estimated to have experienced a
search of their person, their vehicle, or both. An estimated 34% felt that the search
was legitimate, while the other 66% thought the search was not legitimate. There
were no significant differences by gender or age. Once again, fewer blacks (17%)
thought the search was legitimate than whites (39%) or Hispanics (33%). 35% of
the estimated 829,000 experiencing a physical search of their person viewed the
search as legitimate. There were no significant differences by gender or age. Once
again, fewer blacks (22%) thought the search was legitimate than whites (40%) or
Hispanics (28%). Of the approximately 1 million drivers experiencing a vehicle
search, 34% viewed the search as legitimate. There were no significant differences
by gender. Older drivers viewed searches as more legitimate than younger drivers.
Fewer blacks (15%) thought the search was legitimate than whites (39%) or
Hispanics (31%).
Homant and Kennedy (1994) found that more than 75% of the respondents in their
study of Detroit area voters thought police use good judgment in deciding whether
to pursue suspects in vehicles, though 40% thought that there should be more
restrictions placed on the police with regards to pursuits. Attitudes about pursuits
were unrelated to age, gender, and education. Support for police pursuits was found
to be related to political orientation, however, with those who were more
conservative reporting stronger support for police pursuits.

Stone and Pettigrews (2000:iii) study of stop and frisk behavior in England found
that "public trust and confidence is primarily based on being treated fairly and with
respect and being given a good reason for the stop, rather than on changes in
procedure." Based on their focus group findings, they concluded that positive
feelings emerging from the stops and searches resulted from the following: (1)
being given an acceptable reason for the stop, (2) the officer was polite, (3) the stop
was brief, and (4) people did not feel unfairly targeted (page iv). As we reported
earlier, negative feelings from the stops resulted when officers were "patronising,
arrogant, aggressive or intimidating" (page iv).

The public image of police stop and search behavior has become a major public
policy issue in recent years with the massive media attention focused on racial
profiling. We identified two national polls on public perceptions of racial profiling, a
Gallup poll conducted in December 1999, and another poll conducted in June 2000
by Penn, Schoen, and Berland (PS&B) Associates. In the 1999 Gallup poll, 59% of
respondents agreed that racial profiling was widespread. Consistent with other
findings in this report, 56% of whites viewed the practice as widespread, compared
with 77% of blacks. Racial differences in approval or disapproval for racial profiling
are much less dramatic: 80% of whites disapproved of racial profiling, compared
with 87% of blacks. In the 2000 PS&B poll shown in Exhibit 16, 75% of respondents
viewed racial profiling as a problem. The results were not available by race, but
were broken down by political orientation: 82% of Democrats viewed racial profiling
as a problem, compared with only 63% of Republicans. Furthermore, 69% of
respondents thought police should be banned from taking race into account when
targeting people as suspects; 77% of Democrats agreed, compares with 60% of
Republicans. These findings on the relationship between political orientation and
attitudes toward police stop and search behavior are consistent with those on police
pursuits that we reported earlier by Homant and Kennedy (1994).

One of the most recent pieces of evidence on public opinion toward racial profiling,
though not national, comes from an April 2001 poll of 802 New Jersey adults. The
study found that 61% viewed racial profiling as a big problem or somewhat of a
problem. Once again, however, disaggregating the findings by race showed that
31% of whites viewed it as a big problem compared with 82% of blacks (Star-
Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers Poll, 2001).
We note that views on racial profiling may be strongly influenced by highly
publicized national events. In the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks
on New York City and Washington, DC, the public may see threats to national
security as so severe that racial profiling to catch terrorists is justified. A national
Gallup poll found that 54 percent of blacks favored singling out Arab-Americans for
special scrutiny at airport check-ins, while 53 percent of whites and 63 percent of
Hispanics opposed this action (Scales, 2001). A poll of Arab Americans in the Detroit
metropolitan area found that 61 percent felt that extra questioning or inspections of
people with Middle Eastern features or accents by law enforcement officers was
justified (Niemiec and Windsor, 2001). Whether this remarkable pattern of views will
be maintained over several years may well depend upon the extent to which the
news features two kinds of stories: the threat of terrorism to public safety and the
harm done to innocent persons screened by profiling practices. Regardless of the
long-term effects of the terrorist attacks on views toward racial profiling, the two
surveys described above show how profoundly major events can alter public opinion
results in the short run.

Use of Force

Nowhere is the publics discomfort with the iron fist of police felt more strongly
than in the issue of police use of force, particularly deadly force. Echoing the
distinction we made at the beginning of this section between voluntary and
involuntary clients, a recent national study of contacts between the police and the
public found that the majority (91.9%) of citizens who had force used against them
by police viewed the police behavior as improper (Langan, et al., 2001). The
differences by race are not as pronounced as in other findings in this study, with
94.4% of blacks viewing the force as improper, compared with 88.5% of whites. Less
than 20% of those viewing the force as improper took any kind of formal action such
as filing a complaint or a lawsuit. Racial differences in citizen perceptions of police
use of force behavior have been identified in several studies (Williams, Thomas, and
Singh, 1983; Flanagan and Vaughn, 1995). In addition, Huang and Vaughn (1996)
report that "public perceptions of police use of force varied with age, income,
community type, and political ideology" (p. 41). Respondents who were older,
conservative, rural, and in the middle income bracket had more favorable
perceptions about police use of force.

Exhibit 17 provides some evidence about how the public views the police use of
force. The National Opinion Research Center has asked respondents annually (with
some years missing) since 1973 whether they would approve of a policeman
striking a citizen who: (1) said vulgar and obscene things to the policeman, (2)
attacked the policeman with his fists, or (3) was attempting to escape from
custody? While the majority of respondents endorse the need for police to use force
when a citizen attacks the officer with his fists (90% in 1998) or when a suspect
attempts to escape from custody (68%), few respondents see the need for force
when a citizen says vulgar and obscene things to the officer (7%). Furthermore, as
the trend lines in Exhibit 17 clearly show, since 1973 the public has grown less
tolerant of the use of force in all three situations. For instance, while 22% of
respondents in 1973 said that they would approve of a policeman using force
against a citizen who said vulgar or obscene things to him, by 1998 this figure had
dropped to only 7%. The publics taste for police use of force has clearly diminished.
This topic has received no research attention; therefore we have no ready
explanation for why this occurred. We note, however, that it may reflect a
continuation of expanding the application of middle-class values about coercion to
police that have been part of a long-term historical process (Bittner, 1970; Fogelson,
1977:ch. 11). That is, the public increasingly expects that police accomplish their
work by resorting less frequently to the more physically coercive aspects of their
authority.

A series of Gallup polls starting in the 1960s asked respondents whether there was
any police brutality in their area. Surveys were completed in 1965 and 1967, and
then were not resumed again until 1991, therefore it is difficult to draw any
conclusions about trends that occurred in between, during the 1970s and 1980s.
Nonetheless, the pattern revealed in these surveys, shown in Exhibit 18, is striking.
Averaging the responses in the 1960s and the 1990s reveals a stark contrast in
perceptions of police brutality. In the 1960s, approximately

7.5% of respondents believed that police brutality existed in their area; by the
1990s, this figure had risen to approximately 37%. The 2000 poll revealed a slight
downturn, with 32% of respondents expressing the opinion that police brutality
existed in their area. Once again, there is no research on the factors that led to
these changes in public opinion.

Public opinion data cannot tell us whether in fact police have become more brutal
since the 1960s, but it clearly there has been a substantial shift in public
perceptions that they have. Based on the pattern in Exhibit 17, we might conjecture
that at least part of the increased perception in brutality can be attributed to a shift
in the publics standards about what constitutes brutality. Increasing numbers of the
public are lowering the threshold of what they classify as brutal.

The 2000 poll also reveals the same patterns outlined in other parts of this report,
with important differences in perceptions of police brutality based on the
characteristics of the respondent. Although there were no tests of statistical
significance done, it appears that males, blacks, conservatives, and those from
urban areas were the most likely to report police brutality in their area. Fifty-three
percent of black respondents perceived police brutality in their area, compared with
only twenty-eight percent of whites. Once again, we do not know whether the race
of the individual is producing this effect or whether larger social forces are at work.

Race and the Image of Police

Throughout this report we have made reference to the differences between racial
groups in their attitudes toward and assessments of the police. In this section we
attempt to address this issue across the broadest possible range of image
indicators, concentrating especially on process measures. Exhibit 19 presents racial
breakdowns for a survey that was previously presented in Exhibit 12 as reported by
Huang and Vaughn (1996:44). The first four attitudes concern police processes
how they do their work. For all four attitudes whites show more favorable attitudes
than do Hispanics and, especially, blacks. The difference is most pronounced on use
of force. The pattern is repeated for the three measures of police outcomes with
the exception of crime prevention and crime protection, where Hispanics outscored
whites.

The researchers also examined the effects of race for the subset of citizens in this
sample who had contact with the police within the previous two years. Their
analysis controlled for the effects of a variety of personal background
characteristics and attitudes of the respondents, as well as their satisfaction with
the particular police contact. They found that satisfaction with the police contact
was the only significant influence on the citizens overall view of the police for the
three outcome measures (crime protection, crime solving, and crime prevention)
plus two process measures (promptness, and friendliness). Race no longer proved a
significant predictor of the citizens overall assessment, once the citizens view of
the specific contact was taken into account. However, race remained a significant
influence for the citizens overall attitude toward police for fairness and use of force.
Blacks were significantly less likely to rate police favorably on fairness, even after
taking their satisfaction with their most recent contact into account. The same held
for both blacks and Hispanics when considering the use of force.

The persistence of racial effects for fairness and use of force reinforces the view
discussed earlier about the power of the belief among minority groups that they
receive disparate treatment from police. Stated another way, a single favorable
contact with the police will have much less of a positive effect on their beliefs about
fairness and use of force for minority citizens than whites. On the other hand,
satisfactory police contacts do seem to dissipate the effects of race when
considering citizen views of promptness and friendliness. A possible reason for this
difference is that it is much easier to demonstrate promptness and friendliness in
readily observable ways. Fairness is perhaps more in the eye of the beholder, and
therefore more difficult to demonstrate. And officers so rarely use force with
minorities, as well as whites, that a given contact would be unlikely to reveal
opportune circumstances for the citizen to perceive its relevance. Therefore they
are not inclined to generalize from most of these situations to their view about the
police use of force in general.

V. The Relationship between Police Processes and the General Image of the Police

One of the most important questions for national bodies like the IACP is how to
improve the public image of the police. Are there certain levers which the
American police can use to improve their image? Are there certain areas in which
they can focus their efforts? One of the most valuable pieces of information from a
policy perspective is how citizens develop their image of the police, whether
through personal experience, through the media, through vicarious experiences of
others, through the subcultures in which they are immersed, the neighborhoods
where they live, or most likely, through some combination of these channels. One of
the important questions is how much citizens perceptions of police processes affect
their overall view of the police the kinds of measures we discussed in Chapter 2. In
the publics eye, which of the various aspects of police process are the most and
least influential? How much influence do public perceptions of police process exert
compared to public perceptions of policing outcomes? The answers to these
questions are quite important to police, because they indicate what aspects of their
image are most important to the public. Knowing this can help police be more
effective and efficient when they wish to improve their overall standing with the
public.

Unfortunately, there is not a great deal of research that answers these questions,
but the good news is that researchers are beginning to address them. At this stage
we are able to report on a handful of studies. Some examine the views of citizens
generally without regard to specific experiences they may have had with police.
Others ask citizens to reflect on specific encounters they have had with police.

Benson (1981:59) found that respondents who believe that police lack integrity
provide lower ratings of police performance. Those who believe that police lack
integrity and who think that crime is increasing "are particularly apt to view police
performance poorly." Similarly, Brown and Coulter (1983) found that more than half
of the variation in satisfaction with police could be explained by three factors::
satisfaction with response time, satisfaction with the way the police treat people,
and the perceived equity of police protection (which means whether people think
police protection in their neighborhood is better than that in other neighborhoods).
All these effects were positive, meaning that those who saw the police as
responsive, fair, and equitable were most satisfied with the police overall.
Tom Tyler has conducted a series of research projects that look at the impact of
citizens assessments of police processes on the over all image of the police. One
research project focused only on citizens who had recent contact with the police or
courts (Tyler, 2001b). The vast majority of contacts reported were with police, not
the courts. Tyler conducted a telephone survey of residents of Los Angeles and
Oakland, California., which yielded a sample containing roughly equal numbers of
whites, Hispanics, and African Americans. He created a scale of legitimacy of law
and legal authority based on a variety of questions tapping into the respondents
feelings of obligation to obey authorities, trust in the police/courts, cynicism about
the law, and feelings about legal authorities as a group (p. 386).[10] Tyler found that
by far the most powerful predictor of high legitimacy scores was a feeling of trust in
the motives of the authority with whom the citizens dealt in their recent contact.
Trust in the motives of the authority was a much more powerful predictor of
legitimacy than the persons view of the fairness of the outcome and the favorability
of the outcome to that person. This result was uniform across all three racial/ethnic
groups. Further research showed that trust in the motives of authorities is strongly
influenced by peoples evaluations of the quality of the process and only weakly
linked to peoples assessments of outcome fairness and favorability (p. 378). These
findings too are identical across racial/ethnic groups. The researcher concluded,

...the findings support a model of process based policing and process based
problem solving by the courts. In the case of both types of legal authority, peoples
willingness to trust authorities and to defer to their decisions is rooted in peoples
judgments about the fairness of the processes through which those authorities
exercise their authority. Both the quality of decision making and the quality of
treatment are found to influence overall procedural justice judgments and trust in
the authorities (Tyler, 2001b: 382).

Tyler (2001a) also analyzed survey responses of a general sample of Chicago


residents, looking for what accounts for variation in the publics confidence in and
support for the local police and courts. In this study Tyler focused not on the impact
of personal experiences with the police, but rather the impact of respondents
general assessments of police competence/performance[11] and fair treatment.[12]
The analysis showed that both competence and fairness assessments were
significant predictors of the publics general confidence and support for the police.
However, the fairness assessment exerted considerably more influence than the
competence assessment. These findings were the same for both white and minority
respondents.

Finally, Tyler (2001a) conducted additional analyses of the Oakland data described
earlier. This mail-return survey focused on the residents of high crime and
predominantly minority areas of Oakland. The response rate was low, so
considerable caution must be used due to the increased risk of a biased sample.
The survey was conducted during a period of aggressive policing to suppress gangs
and control gun-related crimes. The survey asked respondents to give an over-all
evaluation of job performance and to indicate their willingness to pay taxes to
support intensified police activity targeted at street-level drug dealing. The
multivariate analysis showed that, once again, evaluations of the quality of police
treatment (especially whether the police harass people)[13] exerted far more
influence (by a factor of six) on the publics overall evaluation of police job
performance than did peoples sense of police performance in dealing with crime.
[14] The quality of treatment factors showed about five times the level of influence
that crime performance levels showed. Citizens assessment of the quality of
treatment also showed the strongest influence on their willingness to pay more
taxes, although the strongest influence here was on whether police were trying to
control crime. Tyler (2001a:223) concluded, ...support is primarily linked to
judgments about how the police treat people, not to whether they are effective in
controlling crime.

The limited number of empirical studies on the impact of police processes versus
outcomes all point to the same conclusion: process matters more than outcome in
shaping the overall image of American police. Because the studies are few and are
in only a handful of communities, it would be premature to regard this pattern as
fully validated. A great deal more research needs to be done in a broader range of
communities and under a variety of different conditions (e.g., low crime v. high
crime, rising crime, v. declining crime v. stable crime rate).

VI. High Visibility Events and the Police Image Regarding Processes

High visibility events those that are widely and repeatedly covered in the press
and other mass media undoubtedly shape the publics view of the police.
Regrettably, we know very little about how and how much these events influence
the police image. Clearly negative events (Rodney King, Abner Louima, Amadou
Diallo) undoubtedly tarnish the image of the specific department, but do they also
hurt the police image generally, and if so, how much? What about the impact of
positive events, such as dramatic rescues, saving lives, and capturing dangerous
criminals? We were unable to find studies that answered these questions, but we
can present some data that offer intriguing possibilities for further study.

Exhibit 20 tracks citizens negative ratings of the honesty and ethics of both police
and lawyers from 1977-2000.[15] If the police image is tarnished by widely
publicized events, one might expect to see sharp increases in the negative ratings
of police following those events. No negative event has been more highly publicized
than the Rodney King arrest on March 3, 1991. Other events later in the decade also
received intense national coverage. In New York City the Abner Louima and Amadou
Diallo use of force cases occurred in 1997 and 1999 respectively in New York City.
The Rampart police corruption and abuse of force allegations emerged in late 1999
and 2000.
The chart shows a fairly sharp increase in the percentage of citizens rating police
honesty and ethics as low or very low between 1990 and 1991 (going from 9 to
13 percent).[16] It reached a high point of 14 percent in 1992. This is consistent
with the argument though it does not prove it conclusively that the King incident
had a negative affect on the police image nationally. However, the subsequent
fluctuations do not appear consistent with the argument that the Louima, Diallo,
and Ramparts events also had a similar impact. In 1993 it declined to 10 percent
and then began to rise over the next two years back to 14 percent. During that
period there was no negative publicity that received anything like the national
attention of the cases considered here. The absence of such highly publicized
events should have produced a decline or stability in the publics negativity about
police honesty and ethics. That did not occur until the 1996-1999 period, during
which the Louima, Diallo, and Ramparts incidents surfaced. Thus, with the exception
of the immediate aftermath of the King incident, the pattern in negative public
opinion about police honesty and ethics does not appear to respond to the timing of
major, nationally-publicized events that place police integrity in a bad light. Further,
the fluctuations in negative views of police are relatively small, indicating that if
local events publicized nationally do tarnish the image of police across the nation,
they do not have a profound effect.[17] Even though we live in a time of
instantaneous global communication, it may be that respondents views on ethics
and honesty are more influenced by how they see their local police performing. We
caution, however, that this analysis is hardly complete. Given the sensitivity of
citizen response patterns to question wording, a thorough test requires using a
much wider variety of questions, covering, for example, views on the use of
excessive force.

We included the data on lawyers to see if their trend matched that of the police. If it
did, it would suggest that specific events that reflect badly on the police are not the
cause of changes in the police image, but may be due to some larger force that
affects both police and lawyers (for example, distrust in professions or government
generally). Over this time period, the publics negativity about lawyers honesty and
ethics steadily increased through 1995 from 26-45 percent, then declining over the
next two years and holding fairly steady at about 40 percent. As the chart shows,
the trends for lawyers and police are not very similar, suggesting that at least to
some extent, the forces that affect images of the parts of the justice system in
which lawyers participate (the courts) are different from those affecting the police
image. Thus, while police might well be influenced by shifts in the legitimacy of
American political institutions generally and criminal justice institutions more
specifically (LaFree, 1998), it would be unwise to treat them as the same (see also
Chapter 2, Section VI).

It seems remarkable that public views of police honesty and ethics would not
appear to be more responsive to the emergence of nationally publicized police
scandals in the 1990s, especially in light of the findings we described earlier on
the impact of tabloid justice news media portrayals of police. That research
suggested that exposure to these types of stories reduces public trust and
confidence in police. The apparent contradiction may be reconciled if we recognize
that citizens may have different levels of exposure to tabloid justice coverage in the
news media, and they also may vary in the susceptibility of their general views of
police to change that would come from this kind of news (see section on news
media portrayals in Chapter 2). Some citizens may pay little attention to negative
news or give it little credence even if they are repeatedly exposed to it. Others
may simply interpret the news in such a way that it reinforces their previously held
views such as a citizen who interprets what the press calls police brutality as an
instance of the police giving a citizen the justice he deserves. This kind of variation
in the habits and mind sets of members of the public may be sufficient to blunt the
effects of highly publicized events sufficiently to make it impossible to see strong
and consistent effects on general public views in the wake of highly publicized
police events.

It would be useful to consider the positive side of news coverage of police in the
context of the police response to terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. At the
time of this writing, news coverage of police in this event appears to be
overwhelmingly positive, portraying rescue efforts as courageous, self-sacrificing,
and heroic. What impact has this coverage had on the police image? As yet we have
not located a survey that allows us to answer this question comprehensively, but we
have found one survey that provides some indication of the impact of this event on
one kind of public support for police. A Harris Poll conducted in the wake of the
attack examined the publics support for increasing a broad range of police and FBI
powers to increase security, identify, and catch terrorists (Taylor, 2001). In the
immediate aftermath, an overwhelming majority of the surveyed public supported
expansion of police powers, which by itself would suggest a high level of trust and
support for American law enforcement. However, the poll also showed that
substantial portions of the public expressed concern that these powers might be
abused. Between 68-79 percent of respondents had at least moderate concern
about abuses (roughly half of those expressing high concern). On the other hand,
87 percent of respondents were at least somewhat confident that these new
police powers would be used in a proper way. But only 39 percent of those
expressing at least some confidence said they were very confident that the
powers would not be abused. The researcher concluded that despite these
concerns, the public was more willing than previously to accept tough surveillance
measures and the risks of abuse. This suggests that the public as a whole conveys a
more complex view of police in a time of crisis. It is not so much that large numbers
of the public trust the police not to abuse their power, but that they are willing to
tolerate the higher risk of abuse in light of the need to deal with the crisis. If this is
so, when the crisis has passed, one would expect the public to hold the police
accountable for perceived abuses, and this would presumably be reflected in their
assessments of police processes and the general image of the police.

Over all, the available evidence suggests that highly publicized events can have
significant short-term national impact on the publics image of police, but it is
difficult to discern which type of events will have that impact, and it is even more
difficult to track long-term effects. What is most noteworthy about research on this
issue is the lack of it.

VII. The Consequences of the Police Image

Throughout this report we have operated under the assumption that the publics
image of the police has important consequences for the police and society. Early in
Chapter 2 we argued that the publics image of the police influences the publics
behaviors that are important to both the police and society. Presumably a positive
image encourages the public to support police organizations by voting for political
candidates who support police organizations and their leaders. A positive image
should also encourage citizens to work directly with the police department by
participating in police-sponsored programs and engaging in personal activities that
police encourage (e.g., responsible supervision of ones children, reporting
suspicious circumstances, and taking responsibility for keeping the neighborhood
attractive) and avoiding activities that police discourage (disruptive and illegal
behavior). At the very least, a positive image should produce a contented,
complacent public that does not oppose or object to or resist police policies and
practices. A highly discontented public may decline to behave in ways that police
prefer. They may instead behave in ways that make police work much more
challenging. Indeed, they may in extreme circumstances rebel against police
authority and even seek to have police leaders replaced and perhaps even make
drastic changes to the structure and makeup of the police organization.

We have reviewed some evidence that suggests that a positive image, especially
one that pictures police processes positively, reduces the likelihood of citizen
resistance to police authority and increases the probability that citizens will obey
the law. But these findings are based on what happens in specific police-citizen
contacts. We have virtually no evidence on what surveys of the general public can
predict about larger patterns of the publics behavior. For example, at what level of
public dissatisfaction with police is there a high risk that the chief will lose his or her
job? How negative must the publics perception be to create an unacceptable risk of
massive civil disorder? If one third of the public believes that the police are often
rather than occasionally brutal, will that foment resistance to police authority that
manifests itself in a high risk of assaults on police? Or will it lead to an outcry for
placing more constraints on the police use of their coercive authority such as
civilian review boards or federal oversight of local police practices? We found no
studies that answered these questions. The answers to those questions are
undoubtedly complex, in part because even when the publics image is sufficiently
strong to motivate them to act, how people act depends in part on what recourse is
available to them. A poor person who feels aggrieved may fight the police on the
street; a wealthy person is more inclined to hire an attorney to do it in court.
This lack of evidence on the consequences of the police image means that we
cannot say how high the positive image must be for a police department to rest
easy, nor can we venture how high the negative image must be for the police to be
uneasy. We suspect that for the purposes of predicting problem behaviors from the
public, tracking the level of the negative image among the public will be a better
predictor than tracking the level of the positive image. When public discontent
reaches a sufficiently high level among a segment of a community or the larger
society, leaders soon arise who work to create a group identity around those
grievances, which leads to collective action of one sort or another, be it legal or
illegal. While we cannot prove what those thresholds are, we suggest that by the
time they reach 20-25 percent of a segment of the public that identifies itself as a
victim of the police, a reasonable police chief in a democracy would feel uneasy.

VIII. Conclusions

This chapter has probed the public image of policing processes. We have attempted
to place our review of the police within a broader framework of service
organizations. All service organizations have an interest in delivering services that
satisfy their clients or their constituents. We examined the public image of the
police according to seven generic categories on the quality of service:
attentiveness, reliability, responsiveness, competence, manners, fairness, and
integrity. As we showed throughout the chapter, the amount of research on each of
these categories ranges from almost none (such as with competence) to a great
deal (such as with fairness). Furthermore, it is apparent that the public has different
expectations of the police within each of these categories. For instance, police need
not be prompt (responsive) in responding to non-emergency calls, as long as they
are attentive in notifying citizens how long it will take to respond, and then respond
reliably at that time. Despite the utility of viewing the police among a larger class of
service institutions, there remain other elements of service quality which are unique
to policing. We reviewed two of those in this chapter: stops and searches and use of
force. The public has clear views on both of these topics, and each presumably
plays an important role in structuring the public image of the police.

From the many findings we have discussed, we find four points that seem especially
noteworthy. First, the majority of the American public appears to hold generally
positive views about police processes that is, the way officers go about the
business of policing the public. These vary, of course, according to the aspect of
process considered and how the question is asked, and there are some interesting
contrasts. The public seems to evaluate the police more positively in terms of their
manners toward the public (being polite or friendly) than their fairness. While less
than half of the public rates police honesty and ethical standards as very high or
high, the portion of the public rating police very low or low has fluctuated
between only 10-15 percent since 1977. The police rank in the top third of
professions on honesty and ethics and well above attorneys. Thus, in a comparative
sense, police are doing pretty well in the integrity area, but a substantial portion of
the public seems to see considerable room for improvement. The area in which the
public seems to show the greatest concern at present is police use of force. Police
brutality is seen as present in the communities of almost a third of the public.

Second, race makes a difference when one characterizes the public image of police.
Although racial minorities tend to have a positive view of police processes, their
views are nonetheless consistently more negative than those of whites. Especially
according to the criterion of fairness, police suffer a more negative image among
minorities. And it is worth noting that on the specific issue of racial profiling, fully
three quarters of the entire American public views this as a problem in the United
States.

The prior expectations that the public brings to its evaluations seem to have an
important, if not always straightforward, affect on the publics assessments and
images of the police. Although some research suggests that the public can become
inured to inattentive or coercive policing (thus having little influence on the day-to-
day evaluations of police service), other research suggests that meeting or
exceeding prior expectations is required if the police are to sustain a successful
campaign to improve the publics evaluations and over all view of the police.
Tracking public standards of police use of force over several decades suggests that
current levels of public concern about police brutality issue largely from increasingly
restrictive standards about when use of physical force is appropriate.

Finally, a small but growing body of research shows that at least in recent years
the public places greater weight on the processes of policing. Trust in the motives of
police to do the right thing does more to promote a view of the police as
legitimate than even the citizens assessment that the outcome was favorable or
fair. A sense of fair treatment at the hands of the police is a more powerful influence
on public confidence in police than an assessment that the police were competent.
And fair and lawful police treatment trumps many times the effects of police
performance in reducing crime and making neighborhoods safer.

We must stress that these findings are tentative. In most cases, the number of
studies is few. Many draw from local surveys, making it risky to generalize broadly
across the great diversity of communities around the nation. And there are a variety
of limitations to the data and methods used that make it difficult to rule out
alternative hypotheses about what influences citizens assessments of police
processes and what influences those assessments have on the general image of the
police. This, of course, suggests the need for further research, which we will explore
in the reports concluding chapter.
CHAPTER 5

IMPROVING PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF THE POLICE IMAGE: THE IMPACT OF


COMMUNITY POLICING

An ever-present concern of a competent police leader is how to improve or sustain


the public image of his or her agency. We found no studies that evaluated specific
departmental efforts to do this. This is a remarkable hole in the evaluation research
literature, given the amount of effort and resources devoted by police leaders to
grooming their agencys image (Chermak, 1995; Mastrofski, 2001). One area where
there has been some research in recent years is the impact of community policing
on the publics assessments of police and police service. Community policing
advocates make public support an essential means, as well as an end unto itself, of
police performance. In this chapter we review research on the impact of community
policing on the image of police, focusing on the neighborhood development aspects
of community policing.

I. The Impact of Community Policing on General, Outcome, and Process Measures

The policy implications of the research reviewed on police outcomes concerning


quality of life issues appear straightforward: police should build cooperative
relationships with community members (i.e., improve the sense of community
among neighbors) to address neighborhood problems, such as public drinking. And,
in so doing, the police can improve their overall image and maybe even prevent
predatory crimes (Wilson and Kelling, 1982). Unfortunately, recently conducted
research suggests it is not that simple.

Using survey data from St. Paul, Minnesota, Ralph Taylor (1997) found a high level of
disagreement among individuals from the same neighborhoods concerning
neighborhood conditions. In other words, citizens residing in close proximity to one
another expressed different levels of fear, risk of victimization, neighborhood
attachment, and informal social control (also see Reisig and Parks, 2000:625-6).
Taylors (1997) findings suggest, then, that survey items tapping into quality of life
assessments are largely psychologically-based, emotional reactions to
neighborhood ills as opposed to objective measures of actual conditions. How does
this affect the overall police image within neighborhoods? Reisig and Parks
(2000:626) argue that police strategies to improve neighborhood cohesion and
address social disorder will likely only have a modest impact on levels of satisfaction
with the police in general.

It is important to note that these research findings do not categorically dismiss the
importance of police-citizen collaborative efforts to improve quality of life. But such
efforts should be evaluated in a relative sense, neighborhood-by-neighborhood,
before and after a particular initiative is implemented. There is research to suggest
that police departments in the United States have been successful at improving
outcome-oriented elements (e.g., fear of crime) when targeting their efforts toward
smaller geographic units, and comparing outcomes with similar units that did not
receive similar police attention.

Wesley Skogans (1990) book, Disorder and Decline, represents one of the most
rigorous assessments of the link between perceived neighborhood conditions,
community policing activities, and the publics image of police. In two particular
cases (i.e., Houston and Newark), Skogan (1990:95-122) was able to demonstrate
that changes in police strategy (i.e., the adoption of community policing initiatives)
was associated with reductions in perceived social disorder and physical decay, as
well as improvements in the publics image of police. For example, in Houston, three
community policing initiatives were selected for implementation: police-community
stations (i.e., storefront stations), a community organizing response team (CORT) to
create neighborhood organizations, and a citizen contact patrol that was designed
to increase the number of non-emergency contacts between citizens and the police.
Through pre- and post-program survey interviews, Skogan (1990:105) found that
the inclusion of a storefront office in the experimental neighborhoods significantly
reduced perceptions of physical disorder, and reduced levels of fear. Other
encouraging results were also reported for the other two community policing
activities. For example, in neighborhoods were CORT concentrated their efforts,
perceived physical disorder and social disorder declined, and citizens satisfaction
with their neighborhood as well as with the police improved. Similar results were
found in neighborhoods where citizen contact patrols were implemented. Skogan
cautions, however, that the effects of community policing initiatives were not
consistent across different groups of citizens. As Skogan (1990:106) succinctly puts
it, In general, those at the bottom of the social ladder were not helped at all.

In Newark, experimental (i.e., neighborhoods receiving police programs) and


comparison neighborhoods were closely matched. Skogan (1990:110) notes that
these neighborhoods were all plagued with physical and social disorder, but at
moderate levels that were believed by police officials to be treatable over the
study period (i.e., one year). Using before-and-after panel surveys, Skogan
(1990:117) found that citizens residing in neighborhoods that received community
policing (i.e., community station, citizen contact patrol, and neighborhood police
newsletter), reported that physical and social disorder declined after the study
period. Additionally, levels of fear decreased, and citizens satisfaction with their
neighborhood and with the police significantly increased.

Skogan and Hartnetts (1997) evaluation of Chicagos Alternative Policing Strategy


(CAPS) also provides support for the notion that community policing activities
designed to improve citizen quality of life can influence the publics image of police.
The CAPS program was instituted in April, 1993 in five of Chicagos twenty-five
police districts. CAPS brought about a number of changes, including the permanent
assignment of patrol officers to specific beats, training in problem-solving
strategies, regularly conducting neighborhood meetings, and the formation of
citizen advisory committees. The study districts represented a cross-section of
Chicago, and were matched with similar districts where CAPS was not instituted.
Prior to CAPS, a random sample of citizens residing in the five districts where CAPS
was implemented and the five matched districts were surveyed and asked about
neighborhood problems, as well as their image of the police. A follow-up survey,
which was conducted after CAPS was well underway (i.e., a time period between
fourteen and seventeen months) indicated that problems associated with physical
decay in three of the five experimental districts, as well as gang and drug problems
in two districts, were less frequently reported in citizen surveys (see Hartnett and
Skogan, 1999:5). Results from the surveys also revealed that the percentage of
surveyed residents responding that their image of the police had become more
favorable increased across all race categories. Specifically, when asked how good a
job are the police doing in dealing with the problems that really concern people in
your neighborhood, residents who observed officers involved in community
policing activities were more satisfied with the police (Skogan and Hartnett,
1997:205-6). Results from evaluation also showed that citizens who observed
community policing activities also expressed more satisfaction with police response
to crime, and also reported to feel safer (Skogan and Hartnett, 1997:207-9).

II. Conclusions

The lessons learned from existing evaluation research of community policing


activities is that alterations toward a community policing strategy of neighborhood
development can influence citizen perceptions of neighborhood problems, as well as
improve the overall image of the local police. The research also indicates, however,
that such reforms do not provide a quick fix, but entail a long-term commitment on
behalf of the police to work with citizens to address neighborhood ills.

CHAPTER 6

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH

I. Review of Findings and Implications

In this section we summarize in an abbreviated format the major findings discussed


in previous chapters. Then we conclude with some general interpretations and
observations designed to provide an overarching perspective for our studys results.

General Police Image

How one measures image makes a difference.


The more general the question, the more positive the response tends to be.

Slight changes in the wording of the question or the response options can
make a big difference in how positive the image appears to be.

Questions that measure the favorableness of the police image tend to


generate more positive responses than questions that ask about confidence in the
police.

The majority of the public has a substantial degree of confidence in the police as
a general institution.

Only a small percentage of polled citizens reports having very little or no


confidence in the police in their community.

The proportion of people with confidence in the police can change several
percentage points from year to year, but it often changes only 2-3 points per year.

Confidence in police has been declining slowly since 1996 (from 60 to 54


percent).

The trend in respect for the police is that the level of positive views of the police
have been declining since the mid-to-late 1960s.

A more positive general image of the police is associated with the following
characteristics of the public:

Being older. National samples of high school seniors consistently rate the job
police (generally) are doing as substantially lower than do national samples of older
persons.

Being of higher wealth or socio-economic status

Living in suburban (as opposed to urban) areas

Being white (as opposed to black)

Having positive attitudes about ones own neighborhood

One major study of Chicago suggests that there is no difference between blacks
and whites when socio-economic disadvantage of the neighborhood is taken into
account. That is, blacks negativity toward police appears to be due to their
concentration in disadvantaged areas.

Negative attitudes about the police by disadvantaged persons appears to be part


of a more diffuse alienation from government, law, and the political process
generally.

Citizens experiences with the police influence their general image of the police.
One study indicates that police courtesy/friendliness toward the citizen in a
recent contact with police exerts the most powerful influence on the citizens
general evaluation of the police. This holds for situations where the citizens contact
was involuntary (traffic stops) and voluntary (breaking-and-entering complaints).

However, two studies have indicated that peoples prior general views of police
have stronger influence on their evaluation of a subsequent specific contact than
their evaluation of a specific contact has on subsequent general views of police.

The vast majority of the American public has not had face-to-face contact with
a police officer in the previous twelve months.

Most citizens regard the mass media as their prime source of information about
crime, and crime news is the context for most mass media accounts of police work.

The implicit message of much crime news is the inability to catch offenders.

There is an increasing trend in the news media to concentrate their coverage


on a few sensational cases in a tabloid style of journalism. The net impact of tabloid-
style coverage appears to be a decline in confidence in the police.

Entertainment media present images of police that distort the realities of


every-day police work. Although more positively presented than attorneys and
judges, police are more often than not presented as incompetent rule-breakers.

Since 1993 the police consistently rate among the top three institutions out of
thirteen in public confidence (with the military clearly at the top and
churches/organized religion and the police vying for second place). Police rate much
higher than the rest of the criminal justice system.

Large majorities of adult citizens are satisfied or very satisfied with police service
in their neighborhoods.

Although there is variation in satisfaction levels across urban jurisdictions,


most fall within the 80-90 percent range.
The majority of school-age children in Cincinnati trust their local police, but a
large portion do not, and this distrust is particularly strong among nonwhite
students.

Perceptions of the Outcomes of Policing

From the 1980s to the mid-1990s, increasing numbers of the public have offered
positive assessments of the quality of police protection.

Confidence in the ability of the police to achieve traditional crime-focused goals


appears to be high based on a 1995 survey. 74 percent expressed confidence in the
police to protect citizens from crime, 74 percent to solve crime, and 65 percent to
prevent crime.

African Americans reported lower ratings than whites and Hispanics.

Residents appear to hold police at least partially responsible for outcomes at the
neighborhood level.

There is a relationship between satisfaction levels of police service in the


neighborhood and residents ratings of crime, disorder, and physical decay in the
neighborhood.

Research at the community level suggests that residents believe that citizens
share responsibility for controlling crime.

This relationship holds across neighborhoods with different levels of family


income, home ownership, and length of occupancy differing only according to
ethnicity.

Hispanics appear more likely to hold police solely responsible for controlling
crime.

Public Perceptions of Policing Processes

Police attentiveness to crime victims (providing them counseling on how to undo


the negative effects of victimization) has a positive effect on their attitude toward
the police.

Citizens expectations about how the police will perform affects their evaluation
of how they perform in a specific situation.

Positive evaluations are associated with perceived performance that meets or


exceeds prior expectations.

A substantial majority of the public rates their police as doing an excellent or


pretty good job of being helpful and friendly.

A substantial majority of the public express positive attitudes about the fairness
of the police, but a significant portion rate them as only fair or poor.

African Americans, younger people, singles, and low-income respondents tend


to offer less positive evaluations of police fairness. The difference is particularly
striking between African Americans and whites.

Racial disparities in assessments of police fairness may be caused in part by


indirect exposure to unfair treatment by receiving second-hand accounts from
others in their neighborhood.

Almost one in five respondents fear that the police will stop and arrest them
when they are completely innocent.
The public image of the honesty and ethical standards of police has fluctuated
considerably, but has improved substantially from 1977 to 2000.

In 2000 the police ranked 10th out of 32 occupations rated on honesty and
ethical standards.

Approximately one in ten respondents in a national survey reported that they had
been stopped by police because of their racial or ethnic background.

Blacks were seven times more likely to report this than whites.

Most vehicle operators stopped by police felt that they had been stopped
legitimately, but there were significant differences by race and gender.

Men and blacks were less likely to feel that their stops were legitimate

Most vehicle operators who are searched by police feel that the search was not
legitimate.

Blacks were substantially more likely to view the search as illegitimate than
whites.

A study in England found that citizens were more likely to feel fairly treated when
officers gave a good reason for the stop.

In 1999 59 percent of the American public perceived racial profiling by the police
as widespread, and in 2000 75 percent viewed it as a problem in the United
States.

Blacks are much more likely than whites to perceive that racial profiling by
police is widespread.

Nearly all citizens who experience police force view the police behavior as
improper.
Nearly all citizens view police force as appropriate when a citizen attacks the
officer, and the majority approve when a suspect escapes from custody, but few
citizens approve when a citizen says vulgar or obscene things to a police officer.

The publics acceptance of police force is declining over time, especially for
suspect escapes and the use of vulgar or obscene language.

Lowered thresholds of what constitutes brutality in the publics mind may


account for some of the significant increase in the publics perception of brutality.

The citizens race is a significant influence on the citizens assessment of the


quality of the police process.

Hispanics, and especially African Americans, evaluate police less favorably on


the use of force, fairness, friendliness, and promptness.
For citizens who have had contact with the police within the previous two
years, when the level of satisfaction with that contact is taken into account, race is
no longer an significant influence on citizens assessments of police friendliness and
promptness. However, race remains a significant influence on assessments of use of
force and fairness.

A small, but growing number of studies indicates that citizens assessments of


police processes have a powerful influence on their view of police legitimacy.

Trust in the motives of legal authorities, such as the police, has more impact on
police legitimacy than the citizens view of the fairness or favorability of the
outcome for that person. This is uniform across race/ethnic groups.

Citizens assessments of police competence and fairness are both significant


predictors of the publics general confidence in and support for the police, but the
fairness assessment is by far the more powerful of the two predictors. This holds for
both whites and racial minorities.

A study in Oakland during a time when police were using aggressive tactics to
suppress gangs and gun-related crimes showed that public support for the police
was influenced far more by how police interact with the public than whether crime
was reduced.

The Rodney King incident may have had a nationwide effect on the publics view
of police honesty and integrity in the few years following the event, but the effect
was modest and not enduring. Other high visibility events (Louima, Diallo, and
Ramparts) showed no readily discernable effect.

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New
York City and the Pentagon, the overwhelming majoirty of the public was willing to
give additional powers to police to conduct surveillance, identify, and apprehend
terrorists.

However, substantial proportions of the public were concerned about the


possibility of police abuses of these powers.

A growing body of research suggests that how the public feels about the way
police treat them affects the publics behavior (obeying the law and obeying the
police).

Most of this research is based on studies of citizen contacts with the police.

Improving the Public Perception of the Police

Community policing may have some modest positive influence on citizens


satisfaction with the police.
Some evidence suggests that adoption of community policing programs is
associated with perceptions of improved quality of neighborhood life and
improvement in the image of the police.

Community policing reforms are unlikely to provide a quick fix, but entail a long-
term commitment by police to work with citizens to address neighborhood ills.

A Perspective on the Findings

Here we offer a broad perspective to assist in the interpretation of our findings.


First, and by now most obviously, the public image of the police is complex, which
makes it difficult to make broad-reaching statements. There are many dimensions to
the police image, and while the police may score well in one dimension, they may
not do so well in another. And any given attribute of the police image (for example,
the support the public shows for the police) may be measured in many different
ways. Selecting one way, as opposed to another, can have a profound impact on the
conclusions drawn, and we caution, parenthetically, that a cynical selection of
measures on which police tend to do well to promote a positive image is
professionally reprehensible and is likely to be detected by an increasingly
sophisticated group of researchers, commentators, and interest groups. The image
of the police can fluctuate over time and can also vary among communities at any
given time. And the events and forces that affect that image are numerous, and
their influence can wax and wane as well. Thus, the image of the police is a slippery
thing to measure.

Having noted the complexity of the police image and the hazards of generalization,
we find that at the beginning of the 21st century, the image of American police can
be construed as positive from one perspective and mixed from another. First,
consider the positive interpretation of our results. For most of the indicators of
general image, outcomes, and processes, the majority of the American public gives
the police a positive score, and relatively few offer a strongly negative rating. Over
all, the publics esteem for the police is sufficiently high that they rank police rank
among the more admired institutions and occupations in American society. But
consider the mixed interpretation. In some cases, the majority of positive
responses is not overwhelming, meaning that there are plenty of people who see
ample room for improvement. If, as some people argue, effective policing in a
democracy requires high levels of trust and confidence in police, then we really
need to ask what proportion of the public needs to give the police good ratings to
satisfy the contemporary standards of American society. Right now we do not have
much scientific evidence on what the thresholds of high and low ratings of police
must be. We know that most American businesses would view with alarm a report
that even as few as twenty percent of their customers were less than pleased with
their product or service. But the analogy does not go too far for police, since most
police agencies are not in competition for the publics business with other agencies,
and many police clients would rather not receive any attention from the police.
Yet any competent, experienced street officer knows that he or she cannot be
effective without the confidence and trust of the public, and that each alienated
citizen makes daily police work more difficult, more challenging.

We conclude that complacency in the face of our results is a reaction that carries
high risks. Indeed, many current public figures, including some law enforcement
leaders, argue that American police are now experiencing a crisis in confidence.
Some researchers note that the current legitimacy crisis for police is not recent, but
rather has been a long time coming as part of a broad and long-term erosion in the
publics trust in all of its great institutions of social stability and control, such as
schools, families, and government generally (LaFree, 1998). Racial profiling,
brutality, and corruption received a great deal of attention in the 1990s, and these
issues seem to dominate the news and public debate early in the 21st century,
when crime rates continue to decline. We should keep in mind, however, that the
1990s were preceded by two decades of public policy obsession with the seeming
inability of the police to curb soaring crime rates. It is worth noting that there has
hardly been a time in the history of modern police forces in America when the police
were not characterized as in some form of crisis (Fogelson, 1977).

In this historical context, perhaps we should not be too surprised to find reason for
both alarm and celebration in the state of the police image in America. There are
many indicators that American police are among the most trusted and admired
institutions of contemporary society, while there are also many indicators that the
American public especially the young and disadvantaged members of that public
are wary of the police and see plenty of room for improvement. The seemingly high
overall levels of confidence and satisfaction with American police even among the
disadvantaged in our society suggest that the police continue to enjoy widespread
legitimacy. However, police leaders should be careful not to succumb to
complacency just because their agencies score well over all in national and local
public opinion surveys. Police work is done predominantly to and for the
disadvantaged those segments of the public who have the greatest alienation
from the police (Bittner, 1970). That the majority of these people express
confidence in their police should not hide the other reality that large proportions of
these groups do not share that view. And these are precisely the people whose
cooperation and good will are required if community policing is to fulfill its promise
of increasing effective crime and disorder control. To put it simply, even relatively
low levels of public dissatisfaction with the police are problematic for a democracy
when they are concentrated among groups who develop a self-identity as victims
of policing.

Where public dissatisfaction and negativity about the police image exist, the
reasons for that perspective are undoubtedly complex. There seem to be at least
three sources, about which we know relatively little. First is the state of objective
police performance. Dissatisfaction and negativity may exist in part because the
police simply fail to perform well at a given time or place. If the police lay claim to
crime control as their mandate, and they argue that their efforts can and do reduce
crime, then it is logical that the public will hold them liable when and where crime
fails to go down or does not decline as far or fast as desired. If lawfulness, fairness,
professionalism, integrity, and service are keys to the legitimacy of police agencies,
the police may simply fail to live up to those standards often enough to cast doubt
in the public mind.

A second cause of public dissatisfaction with police may be thought of as the way
the police are presented to the public through the press and entertainment media.
Such presentations can never be comprehensive nor precisely accurate, because
those are not the purposes of the mass media. They tend to feature what is new,
unique, and entertaining. We note that the police are not without considerable
influence in news stories about them and their work (Chermak, 1995).

A third force behind negative views of the police may be heightened expectations
and standards that the public brings to their evaluations of the police. It is entirely
possible that over the latter half of the 20th century police performance in the
outcomes and processes of policing have improved, but the publics standards and
expectations about police performance have increased even more rapidly, and this
may be especially so for the disadvantaged groups. Rising expectations are hard to
meet, especially if they rise fastest among precisely those people who are worst off.

The police have advanced and sustained their legitimacy in America by embracing
two maxims: egalitarian service according to law and efficacy and efficiency by
means of science and technological innovation. These are, of course, ideals that
resonate with larger cultural trends, and which over the last 150 years have been
accelerated for police by a public willing to rely increasingly on government to
improve the quality of life. The American public has become accustomed to
increasingly higher standards of health, medicine, transportation, and
communications to name but a few of the domains affected tremendously by
scientific and technological advance. By tying their legitimacy to science and
technology, police are implicitly promising the same kinds of advances in reducing
crime, increasing order, neighborhood quality of life, and community cohesion. By
relying heavily on laws, rules, education, and training to advance their occupational
status especially with regard to principles of lawful egalitarianism, police have set
high standards for the processes of policing. And the community policing movement
adds to this expectations of responsiveness and participation. Reform movements,
such as community policing, thus cut both ways increasing the publics faith in the
motivations and capabilities of their police, but also increasing their expectations in
the results. A problem-oriented policing promises to solve a wide range of
problems, not just to process paper about those problems (Mastrofski and Ritti,
1999). Such promises have consequences for what citizens come to expect police
can accomplish. And, if the police do improve their performance in an objective
sense, there is always the risk of the public raising the barafter becoming
accustomed to higher levels of performance, driven by a what-have-you-done-for-
me-lately? attitude.

Any attempt to explain variations and fluctuations in the public support of the police
should take all three possible explanations into account: objective police
performance, mass media presentations of the police, and public expectations of
the police. The studies reviewed for this report do not attempt to test these
propositions, but that should be an important issue for future research, a topic of
our next section.

II. Recommendations for Future Research

In the reports concluding section we identify priority issues and questions for future
research and then propose an agenda for collecting data that would help answer
those questions.

Research Questions

The following represent questions that are unanswered by the available research.
They are important topics for future research on the publics image of the police.

Measurement Issues. We have demonstrated that a particular aspect of the police


image can be measured in many different ways, and that the particular measure
chosen to represent a given concept (such as support for police) can have profound
consequences for the conclusions drawn. Much more research should be done to
identify the best measures to use for particular purposes. Measurement issues
include not only question wording, but also question ordering and how the survey
itself is framed for the respondents.

Explaining Variation in the Police Image. What is the relative importance of the
following in accounting for variation among members of the general public in their
view of the police: the personal experiences of those citizens, what they learn
second-hand from friends and acquaintances, and what they learn from the mass
media? What is the role of the citizens prior view and expectation regarding the
police? How readily is this changed, and what kinds of experiences and mass media
presentations are most likely to change it?
What is the importance of highly publicized events on the police image? Does the
public pay as much attention to positive portrayals (e.g., acts of police heroism) as
it does negative ones (e.g., police corruption and brutality)? How long do these
effects last? How much influence do highly publicized events occurring in one
community affect the image of police in other communities?

Most survey research has focused on explaining differences among individual


members of the general public, comparing one type of person to another, using
such characteristics as race, sex, and age. While this is important, other levels of
analysis have received insufficient attention. We need cross-jurisdiction studies that
compare the police image in a diverse set of communities. Is the level of public
satisfaction with the police fairly uniform as found in the 12-city study reported by
Smith and colleagues (1999), or is there really much greater diversity? What
characteristics distinguish departments that receive high evaluations from those
that receive low ones? For example, do police departments with higher proportions
of minority officers receive higher evaluations from minority residents than
departments with lower proportions that is, does the racial representativeness of
the police work force make a difference? Do departments with more college-
educated officers receive more favorable ratings from the public than those with
fewer college-educated officers? Do departments that make more arrests receive
higher evaluations than departments that make fewer arrests?

We also need more studies that compare citizen support for police from
neighborhood to neighborhood. Some departments may do a much better job of
sustaining support from neighborhoods that are traditionally alienated from the
police. If so, is this due to outreach efforts that create a greater potential for
neighborhood collective action (e.g., police agencies creating and supporting
neighborhood organizations), or is it more a matter of delivering higher quality
service to individuals within the neighborhood?

The Influence of Context on the Police Image. Most of the research on the police
image fails to take into account the larger social, economic, demographic, and
cultural context in which the survey data were obtained. For example, national
surveys that may produce reliable representations of how the nation as a whole
views their police fail to capture the great diversity among communities in the
United States. We know, for example, that suburban respondents report higher
levels of support for police than do urban residents, but we do not know the pattern
for communities according to their level of crime and disorder, the nature of their
legal system, their economic vitality, and so on. Are the patterns of influence on
public support for the police the same in each of these different community
environments? Is Mayberry the same as Minneapolis? When researchers have more
knowledge of the effects of community context, their research will be more useful to
police administrators who want to fashion programs that will be most effective for
their jurisdictions.

Of course, context can change over time, and some contextual effects may take
decades to distinguish. For example, we still do not know the implications for police
legitimacy in times of rising crime (and rising fear of crime) compared to times of
declining crime (and declining fear of crime). Our evidence on the priority citizens
give to police processes over outcomes is based almost entirely on research done in
the 1990s during a time when crime was declining. Would this hold during a time
when crime rates are skyrocketing? And what about the influence of external threats
(economic or national security)? Do citizens change their priorities or standards for
evaluating the police? During a time of greatly heightened concern about the
nations vulnerability to terrorism, will the public downgrade its priority for how the
police treat them and upgrade its concern about the police capacity to produce safe
and secure communities?

Police Efforts to Shape their Image. We know that police agencies exert much effort
to shape their images, but we need to know a lot more about what kinds of
strategies are most effective. Do public image campaigns that rely on mass
communications have a greater impact than efforts to transform the day-to-day
experiences of citizens by changing officer practices? Are public image campaigns
most effective at changing citizens beliefs about what police are doing? Or are they
more effective in changing citizens standards and priorities for police performance?
What influence do the courts and high visibility public officials have in shaping
public expectations (such as due process standards and expectations about crime
control)?

Police Image v. Objective Measures of Police Performance. The image of the police is
determined by learning the subjective views of the public. Although these subjective
measures are important to police agencies for a variety of reasons, police leaders
rely heavily on objective measures of police performance indicators that attempt
to determine how well police are doing independent of the viewpoint of members of
the public (e.g., crime and victimization rates, response times, cases cleared,
complaints against police sustained). Competent police management calls for a
balanced system of assessment that includes both subjective and objective
measures (Bayley, 1994; Mastrofski and Wadman, 1991). But it is not enough just to
use both subjective and objective measures, police managers need to know what to
make of those occasions when the results differ between the two types of
measures. Thus, we need research that tells us where objective and subjective
measures are congruent, and where they are not, we need to know the reason for
those differences. For example, if a police department is viewed by a substantial
portion of its clientele as engaged in brutality while at the same time the
departments records show use of force to be at an all-time low and also low in
comparison to other comparable police agencies, this calls for an explanation. There
may be flaws in one or both measures, or they may be really measuring different
things. Researchers should attempt to answer these questions, which are of critical
importance to police executives.

Implications of the Police Image. What are the consequences of the police image for
the publics actions? Public opinion about candidates for elective office only matter
insomuch as they influence voting behavior. To what extent does the publics view
of the police influence such actions as reporting crime and other forms of
cooperating with police? Are citizens who are more positively disposed to the police
also more likely to participate in collective action designed to improve neighborhood
quality of life? Obeying the law? Voting and other forms of political expression in
support or opposition to the police leaderships agenda? What are the
consequences of the police image for the tenure of the police leadership? How often
do police chiefs lose their jobs in a climate of declining public confidence in the
police? How long or how far can public confidence decline before chiefs lose their
jobs? Under what circumstances do negative images of the police enable chiefs to
launch successful reform campaigns?

Agenda for Future Data Collection

Based on the important research questions that need to be answered, we suggest a


program that the membership of the IACP could pursue to advance knowledge.
Although the proposed program would not address all important issues, it would
provide for an efficient way for individual police agencies to answer questions about
their own image while at the same time contributing to broader knowledge about
policing across the United States.

Currently survey research on the publics views of the police is conducted on a


haphazard basis. Some national polling organizations periodically question samples
of the American public about certain aspects of police, but there is not always
consistency in the survey questions and methodology across different polls, and the
surveys are nearly always designed to capture a sample representative of the
nation as a whole, rather than specific jurisdictions. The national samples drawn do
not have enough respondents in any jurisdiction to make reliable estimates of public
opinion within jurisdictions. Also, surveys conducted for a national sample or even
a particular jurisdiction will often fail to focus on issues that are of great
importance to other jurisdictions. Inasmuch as policing is overwhelmingly a local
enterprise, it makes sense to develop a program of survey research that provides
local jurisdictions with important information about public opinions and perceptions
that are relevant to each community.
Just as the Uniform Crime Reports provide a basis for cross-jurisdiction comparison,
so could a national system of uniform public opinion surveys on policing provide a
basis for learning about the publics views and assessments of police agency
performance. Aside from the type of data collected, the major difference with a
national program of survey research on policing from the Uniform Crime Reports
would be to build in sufficient flexibility so that local jurisdictions could also ask
questions that focus on local concerns that may not be shared nationwide. This calls
for a program that melds uniformity and flexibility, one that mirrors the federal
system of government in which American police operate. Just as the IACP played a
key role in the development of the UCRs in the 20th century, it could also play a key
role in the development of a program of national public opinion surveys in the 21st
century. A provisional title for such a program (for the purposes of our discussion) is
the Uniform Public Opinion Poll on Policing (UPOPP).

In developing UPOPP, the IACP would serve four important program functions. First,
it would commission the development of a standard survey instrument and
methodology. Second, it would underwrite the field testing and revision of this
instrument and methodology. Third, it would solicit participation from its members.
Fourth, it would select and monitor a research organization that would conduct a
number of activities. The research organization would be responsible for keeping
abreast of studies and survey research developments relevant to the UPOPP
mission. It would assist participating members in developing survey items that
would deal with local issues of concern that were not dealt with in the standardized
part of the instrument that all jurisdictions would use. The research firm would also
provide limited technical assistance to participating police agencies regarding
survey methodology, such as sampling, data collection, and contract arrangements
with local survey research firms for collecting data. The participating police
agencies would be responsible for conducting the local surveys with the advice and
assistance of the UPOPP research organization. The research organization would
receive copies of the instruments and survey data collected by participating police
organizations and would archive those data. The UPOPP research organization would
establish and enforce technical standards of computerized data entry formats so
that data across participating agencies could be readily merged and archived. And
the research organization would issue an annual report that summarized analysis
from the data archive for the current year, as well as showing comparisons and
trends for previous years. This report would be made available to the IACP to
release and distribute.

The proposed program raises a host of questions and issues, not all of which can be
answered here, but we will at least raise the most important ones to facilitate future
discussion.

Developing the Standardized Research Instrument. Uniformity in survey questions is


essential for comparison of jurisdictions at any given time and to track their
progress over time. Consequently, the standardized section of the survey
instrument must be carefully constructed so that it is relevant to the widest possible
range of local police agencies at any given time and over many years (so that
trends can be meaningfully assessed). Once established, certain items in the
standardized section should rarely, if ever, be changed so that trends in certain
public views can be tracked reliably over time. However, some parts of the
standardized section might be changed annually to facilitate obtaining nation-wide
measures of public opinion on new and emerging issues. And some standardized
items might not be asked every year, but only every few years to provide an
efficient method of tracking over time.

The research organization should have a high level of expertise on the substantive
issues in policing and up-to-date- knowledge of the state of relevant research
literature. However, the research organization should work closely with a special
committee of IACP members to establish the initial standardized portion of the
instrument and to monitor it for necessary improvements and changes. This would
provide for a high level of technical excellence while ensuring that UPOPP is
responsive to the needs of the police profession.

Developing the Local-Option Portion of the Instrument. Participating members would


have the option of supplementing the standardized part of the survey with
questions unique to their own jurisdiction. The UPOPP research organization would
maintain a bank of pretested survey items from which a participating agency
might choose to address one or more issues of local concern. If there were no items
in the data bank appropriate to the participating agencys concerns, the UPOPP
research organization would assist in the development of questions that would meet
the agencys needs.

Participation. We envision a program of voluntary participation by IACP members.


We anticipate that interest would be widespread among police agencies. Many
around the country already conduct their own survey research on an occasional,
and even routine, basis. Small police organizations may find it difficult to plan and
pay for an annual survey, so it may make sense for several of them in a given area
to work together to develop and conduct a common survey.

Assistance to Participating Agencies. Some police agencies already have extensive


experience with survey research of this sort. They have either conducted such
surveys themselves or have worked with research organizations to design and
conduct surveys and analyze data. Many, however, have limited or no experience
and require support. We think it impractical to have a single research organization
actually conduct all of the surveys for all participating agencies. The production
tasks associated with actually conducting the surveys can be performed by the local
police organization or as will be likely in most cases contracted out to local
survey research organizations (universities, survey research firms, and think tanks).
However, many police organizations will need preliminary assistance in planning the
survey: survey design, sampling, and mode of data collection. The UPOPP research
organization would provide this sort of planning assistance and would also offer
advice on selecting and contracting with a local survey research organization to
collect the data. As necessary, the UPOPP research organization would also provide
advice on how best to analyze and interpret data, although it would not be
responsible for actually conducting the data analysis for the participating
organization. Except in rare circumstances, the UPOPP research organization would
provide this assistance via telephone, fax, and internet (both email and web site)
to avoid the high cost of long-distance travel.

The UPOPP Annual Report. The UPOPP research organization would publish annually
a report that does the following:

Reviews important research findings on topics relevant to the police image during
the previous year.

Provides an overview of national (and international, if available) patterns and


trends in public views of police based on survey data archived by participating
members.

Provides data analysis on one or more focused issues. These issues might include
both high-visibility issues with interest that is of national or international scope.
They might also include data analysis on emerging issues or matters that are more
localized in scope (drawing on the local-option portion of the survey).

One important issue to resolve in the future is whether to identify individual


jurisdictions in the report, as do the Uniform Crime Reports. The advantages to this
are increased ability for participating agencies and outside researchers to learn
more about the causes and consequences of the police image. Tremendous
advances in our knowledge of crime and the effectiveness of crime control methods
have come from identifying results by jurisdiction in the Uniform Crime Reports.
However, some agencies may be understandably wary of such visibility at the
beginning of such a data system. They may worry about the potential for abuse and
misinterpretation of results. Although we are inclined to recommend listing survey
results by jurisdiction, we recognize that this is an issue that the IACP must resolve
with its members.

Archiving the Data. Although individual agencies will reap tremendous benefits by
knowing the results of surveys in their own jurisdictions, far greater advantages can
be obtained when it is possible to compare results across jurisdictions. To this end,
the UPOPP research firm would serve as the archive for UPOPP data. Participating
agencies would be required to submit a copy of the research instrument and a
description of research methodology (e.g., sampling design) to the UPOPP research
organization upon completion of the survey. The data would be submitted in a
standardized format to facilitate archiving. The UPOPP research organization would
analyze these data to issue its annual report, and it would fulfill data analysis
requests from participating members. For example, if a department wanted to know
how it compared to similar agencies on the publics view of its ability to reduce
gang violence, UPOPP would conduct the analysis for the agency.

As with the annual report, an important issue to resolve is whether to release the
archived data to other research organizations or data archives, such as the ICPSR at
the University of Michigan, which houses many data sets on crime and justice
issues. This would require a decision by the IACP.

Funding the UPOPP. As proposed, the largest share of the costs for this program are
assigned to the participating local agencies, who would be required to fund the
costs of conducting the surveys. The IACP would be responsible for contracting with
the UPOPP research organization, which will provide important, but much less costly
services that can be effectively and efficiently centralized in one organization.
Nonetheless, such costs can be substantial, so the IACP may wish to consider
charging participating members a fee for participating. This fee (which could be
adjusted according to the amount of UPOPP assistance required) would cover the
costs of the UPOPP research organization. Given the potential benefit of UPOPP to
the improvement of policing and the advancement of the profession, IACP might
wish to consider seeking external support for this program especially during a
start-up and early stages.

REFERENCES

Albrecht, S. and M. Green. 1977. Attitudes Toward the Police and the Larger
Attitude Complex: Implications for Police-Community Relationships. Criminology: An
Interdiscipilnary Journal 15:67-86.

Alpert, Geoffrey P. and Mark H. Moore. 1993. Measuring Police Performance in the
New Paradigm of Policing. Pp. 109-140 in Performance Measures for the Criminal
Justice System, edited by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Washington, D.C.: U.S.
Department of Justice. Apple, Nancy. and David J. O'Brien. 1983. "Neighborhood
Racial Composition and Residents' Evaluation of Police Performance." Journal of
Police Science and Administration 11:76-83.
Bayley, David H. 1994. Police for the Future. New York: Oxford University Press.

Bayley, David H. and Harold Mendelsohn. 1969. Minorities and the Police. New York:
Free Press.

Benson, P. 1981. "Political Alienation and Public Satisfaction with Police Service."
Pacific Sociological Review 24:45-64.

Bittner, Egon. 1970. The Functions of the Police in Modern Society. Bethesda, MD:
National Institute of Mental Health.

Bradley, Russell. 1998. Public Expectations and Perceptions of Policing. Police


Research Series Paper 96, London: Home Office.

Brandl, S.G., J. Frank, J. Wooldredge, R.C. Watkins. 1997. "On the Measurement of
Public Support for the Police: A Research Note." Policing: An International Journal of
Police Strategies & Management 20:473-480.

Brandl, S.G., J. Frank, R.E. Worden, and T.S. Bynum. 1994. "Global and Specific
Attitudes toward the Police: Disentangling the Relationship." Justice Quarterly
11:119-134.

Brandl, S. and Horvath, F. 1991. "Crime Victim Evaluation of Police Investigative


Performance." Journal of Criminal Justice 19:293-305.

Bratton, William. 1998. Turnaround: How Americas Top Cop Reversed the Crime
Epidemic. New York: Random House.
Brown, Karin, and Philip B. Coulter (1983). "Subjective and Objective Measures of
Police Service Delivery." Public Administration Review. January-February: 50-58.

Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
1999. Criminal Victimization and Perceptions of Community Policing in 12 Cities,
1998. NCJ-173940.

https://leb.fbi.gov/2015/august/improving-motivation-and-productivity-of-police-
officers

Improving Motivation and Productivity of Police Officers

By Jay Fortenbery, M.J.A.

8/4/2015
Chief Fortenbery
heads the Edenton,
North Carolina, Police Department.
Jay Fortenbery_Improving Motivation Article.jpg

Motivating police personnel can be complicated. Supervisors must work hard to


ensure officers perform their duties efficiently and effectively. Many factors can
negatively affect productivity and cause officers to become complacent, doing the
bare minimum necessary. The difficult nature of crime fighting can cause officers to
become cynical toward the population as a whole and develop an us-versus-them
view.[1] A negative attitude in police work can lead to feelings of inconsequentiality
toward law enforcement goals and either slow or stop internal motivation.
Officers who begin their careers with an attitude of saving the world can become
jaded toward that goal after years of witnessing the worst in people. Constantly
observing the aftermath of violent crimes, like robbery, rape, murder, and assault,
eventually can take its toll on even the most dedicated officer. Administrators must
look for ways to offset this constant bombardment of negativity while reinforcing
the positive aspects of society and the benefits provided by quality law enforcement
practices.
Open quotes

The profession of law enforcement is no different from others that require ambitious
and productive employees to serve effectively, but some aspects of motivation are
unique to the professional police officer.
Close Quotes

Considerable research exists addressing motivation that can help administrators


facilitate increased productivity, and some results may seem surprising. Extrinsic
rewards, like pay raises and educational and longevity pay, often are considered
effective motivators. Although pay in the public sector normally is much lower than
in private companies, people who become police officers usually are interested in
more than a high salary.[2] Intrinsic rewards, such as providing a safe community
and reducing crime, can motivate police officers more than pay raises or
promotions. Strategies that include internal shifts in assignments that break the
monotony of crime fighting in tough neighborhoods also can provide relief for
officers on the verge of burnout. Further, rotating officers in and out of high-crime
neighborhoods and alternating with patrols in more affluent areas can result in a
positive change in attitude.[3]

Generating increased productivity and stimulating individual motivation are


constant processes that leaders in any career field always can improve. The
profession of law enforcement is no different from others that require ambitious and
productive employees to serve effectively, but some aspects of motivation are
unique to the professional police officer.

FACTORS

Basic Needs

One of the most commonly cited theories of motivation is that of Abraham Maslow.
[4] According to Maslow people are motivated based on a hierarchy of needs. At the
bottom of this list are basic physiological essentials, such as food, water, and
shelter. After obtaining these necessities, people look for safety, security, and a
sense of belonging. Individuals then seek out praise and recognition for a job well-
done that is related to a quest for improved self-esteem. This is followed by a desire
for self-actualization or the potential to grow professionally.[5]

A prominent feature of this theory is the need for praise and recognition under the
self-esteem model. When properly used by management, praise can be an effective
motivator of police personnel. Mark Twain once commented that he could live for 2
months on a compliment alone.[6] Managers who strive to inspire personnel can
adopt this adage and use it as an example of motivational philosophy.
Stress

Conversely, stress can serve as a demotivator if not properly addressed and


understood. Law enforcement is broadly considered one of the most stressful
occupations and often is associated with high rates of alcoholism, suicide, emotional
health problems, and divorce.[7] All of these factors can negatively affect officers
motivation and productivity.

Organizations must strive to recognize and reduce stress associated with the
profession to maximize job performance, motivation, and productivity.[8] Although
the inherent dangers (e.g., apprehending suspects and facing assaults) of the law
enforcement profession create a certain amount of stress, leaders can implement
organizational changes that affect supervisory style, field training programs, critical
incident counseling, shift work, and job assignments. These internal factors have
been rated highly among police officers as major causes of stress. Some officers
have reported that the job itself is not as stressful as a call to the supervisors office.
[9]

Several consequences of police stress include cynicism, absenteeism, early


retirement, emotional detachment from other aspects of daily life, reduced
efficiency, increased complaints, and rises in health problems. In a recent survey,
nearly 100 percent of respondents agreed that giving recognition can positively
impact morale.[10]

Praise and Recognition

In studies dating back to the 1940s, recognition has outranked salary as a strong
motivator when pay rates already competitive. Money is an extrinsic motivator,
while praise and recognition are intrinsic motivators. Effective leaders must stress
the importance of such intrinsic motivators as achievement, recognition, fulfillment,
responsibility, advancement, and growth.[11]

Self-Motivation

Although often considered a responsibility of management, a certain level of


motivation must come from within the individual. In a 2003 study on the effects of
self-motivation, the actions of police gang unit members in Gothenburg, Sweden
were observed. The researcher identified several ways officers can reduce burnout
and increase motivation to survive a long career in law enforcement. The intense
stress of working constantly in tough, crime-ridden neighborhoods caused officers to
desire transfers and redeploy to nicer areas as a way to avoid becoming too
cynical.[12]

Police officers also can seek different specialized jobs within the organization to help
self-motivate and reduce individual stagnation. Large departments often have
greater opportunities for internal transfers. Many officers in this study served for
several years in the patrol division, then later applied for deployments as
investigators, school resource officers, crime prevention officers, or specialized
response-team members.[13] These jobs all require different training and varied
core job responsibilities that can reinvigorate an officers professional drive.

Because a substantial part of motivation remains with the officers themselves, the
level and need for self-inspiration increases as officers rise in rank to supervisory
roles.[14] An important part of a supervisors function is to lead by example and,
above all, have a positive attitude. Self-motivation is a prime ingredient in that
formula. According to the U.S. Marine Corps officers training statement, Officers
have toself-motivate to keep themselves inspired and focused on the mission. This
is the reason they dont sing cadences.[15] If leaders do not motivate themselves,
who will do so? And, how can unmotivated leaders expect exceptional performance
from subordinates?

Another way persons can increase their own motivation is by examining their
strengths and what makes them truly happy and then looking at their weaknesses
with a degree of self-examination.[16] For instance, someone could compile a
journal with photographs of family members and special events that are inspiring
and motivational. By reviewing and adding to the journal regularly, it can serve as a
powerful motivator and a reminder for individual inspiration.

Attitude
Open quotes

When properly used by management, praise can be an effective motivator of police


personnel.
Close Quotes

Research data confirmed that officers individual attitudes can influence their level
of productivity and motivation. In one study officers who perceived traffic
enforcement as a personal priority engaged in more enforcement efforts and
subsequently issued more citations.[17] They also were influenced by the ideal that
management rewarded officers who issued more traffic tickets, and those who
agreed with this perception followed suit.

The positive attitudes of the officers supervisors also resulted in an increase of the
number of citations issued. Personnel working for supervisors who perceived traffic
problems as a personal priority or under superiors who issued more tickets
themselves were more likely to issue additional citations.

Health and Fitness

The health and physical fitness of officers also can affect their motivation. Many
employers have seen increased absenteeism as a result of employees health
issues.[18] Absent workers strain resources, reduce productivity, and increase costs.
In police field units, manpower must be maintained at a minimum level, and illness
or injury can cause serious cost overruns in overtime and sick-leave
reimbursements. Health insurance costs are steadily rising, and employers pay an
average of $13,000 per year, per employee to provide coverage.[19]
Many organizations are moving toward proactive strategies for improving
employees health and fitness to decrease the cost of health coverage. In law
enforcement organizations, physical fitness is essential and can impede officer
performance if not maintained. Most job descriptions for police officers include
lifting, running, jumping, and using force to apprehend and detain criminal suspects.
The unique work demands and related stress levels require that those in law
enforcement establish lifelong wellness habits.[20]

DISCUSSION

Productivity and motivation are important in any organization. In police agencies,


officers have a lot of freedom and discretion and often are unsupervised for many
hours of the workday. The individual level of commitment and desire to serve the
noble and ethical cause help guide officers productivity and motivation on the job.
[21]

Many variables can influence officers levels of motivation, including supervisors


attitudes, job environment, and personal factors. Individuals experiencing family
problems, health concerns, financial issues, or negative social experiences can
exhibit significant declines in productivity and motivation. Job security often can
help officers with personal problems as much as a stable personal life can assist
them with a difficult work environment.[22] Administrators and direct supervisors
seeking to improve work performance should understand this basic psychological
process.

The community holds police to a high level of public trust while expecting them to
prevent crime, maintain order, and provide an equal and unbiased application of law
enforcement. To be an equal opportunity enforcement officer, the individual must be
motivated to do the job and held accountable to the highest standards at all times.
Fellow officers depend on each other for physical backup, emotional support, and
technical guidance.[23] Lack of motivation can be contagious and cause problems
for management if not recognized and treated early.

Agencies must have early warning systems in place to recognize symptoms and
identify officers experiencing a decline in productivity or a lack of motivation.[24]
Computer software programs can recognize possible early warning signs, such as
decline in performance, suspicious sick leave patterns, unreasonable uses of force,
and increased complaints. Such issues can indicate personal problems that result in
a lack of motivation and productivity.

Several theories of motivation exist that supervisors could consider, including


Maslows Hierarchy of Needs, Herzbergs Motivation-Hygiene Theory, and
McGregors X and Y.[25] Administrators can learn many positive, as well as negative,
points from these theories, but they all have one thing in commonthe idea that
supervisors must know their people.[26] To effectively manage motivation and
productivity, leaders must possess the human skills needed to work with employees
and have the empathy to understand their issues.[27] This idea also means that
supervisors must work as a team with officers and build a cooperative effort for the
common goal of the agency. By working closely with and understanding officers,
effective leaders can identify problems earlier and create effective solutions to deal
with those issues.

Physical fitness holds importance when discussing individual motivation and


performance. Of course the first step of being productive in an organization is
actually coming to work. Officers who participate in regular exercise programs less
likely will develop health-related problems that keep them away from the job and
negatively affect their work performance.[28] A police officers job involves
interacting with the public, entering and exiting police cars, walking up steps,
apprehending suspects, and performing other physical activities dependent on a
high level of physical fitness. Law enforcement leaders must take a hard look at
agency physical training standards and long-term health programs to help ensure
the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness.[29]

Much of a patrol officers day is sedentary, often involving seemingly mundane


duties, like operating radar from within cars or conducting routine patrol. But, such
activities can be interrupted when officers receive calls to apprehend suspects or
handle volatile situations. The dramatic increase in heart rate and adrenaline can
strain vital organs and muscles not conditioned for this type of response.[30]
Open quotes

Although often considered a responsibility of management, a certain level of


motivation must come from within the individual.
Close Quotes

Related to health, fitness, and productivity, actual costs are significantly more than
once thought. The average employer has $3.00 worth of health-related productivity
costs for every $1.00 spent on actual medical expenses.[31] This information is
important for administrators and reinforces the reality that healthy employees bode
well for business.

The profession of criminal justice is similar to others where the productivity of


employees is vital to the bottom line. Whether a business involves farming, sales,
construction, teaching, or public safety, evidence indicates that the motivation of
the person doing the job is directly proportionate to the level of productivity in that
industry.[32] In a criminal justice organization, individual health is important for
improving attendance and productivity and related to the safety of the officer and
the public. Most law enforcement personnel agree that appropriate physical fitness
ensures safe and effective completion of essential job functions.[33]

CONCLUSION

Administrators and managers in law enforcement agencies must remain cognizant


of the many factors that can influence individual motivation and productivity of
police officers. The nature of the job can result in officer burnout, followed by a
decrease in the motivation to perform. Recruits starting out in law enforcement with
a strong desire to change the world and who possess a great ethical desire to serve
the noble cause easily can be swayed toward mediocrity by the contagiousness of
other jaded officers.[34] Although some officers who realize a decline in motivation
can self-motivate by seeking out interdepartmental transfers or changes in duty
assignments, many police agencies do not have such opportunities. In these smaller
organizations, supervisors must work harder to discover other ways to improve an
officers performance.

The intrinsic factors of praise and recognition for a job well-done can help improve
officers attitudes and increase their desire for doing the job. As pointed out in
Maslows Hierarchy of Needs, the need for self-esteem is part of the makeup of all
individuals. However, supervisors must rely on this sparingly and in coordination
with other methods to avoid crossing the boundary of diminishing returns. Too much
emphasis on compliments and recognition easily can ruin officers effectiveness;
therefore, they must be distributed with reason and common sense.
Open quotes

Officers experiencing family problems, health concerns, financial issues, or negative


social experiences can exhibit significant declines in productivity and motivation.
Close Quotes

Administrators also should recognize the stress associated with police work and
strive to create a healthy organizational environment where officers are not
subjected to harsh leadership. Police officers have sufficient worries while carrying
out their responsibilities without the additional stress of managerial problems.[35]
When officers perceive interacting with supervisors as causing more stress than
dealing with criminals, a fair self-evaluation of management practices clearly is in
order.

Management also must set the example for motivation. A positive attitude on the
part of a supervisor can directly impact the motivation and productivity of
subordinate officers.[36] This makes sense and follows the old saying of lead by
example, a useful adage for all leaders to follow.

Finally, the health and physical wellness of the officer is so important and
universally recognized that completion of a physical fitness test is mandated in
most recruit training programs.[37] Evidence reveals that the level of vitality and
health of employees has an effect on the bottom line of achieving the goals of any
organization, and the benefits of physical fitness can directly improve an
individuals stress level.[38] Administrators who realize the importance of health
and fitness can implement sound strategies and strive to improve the level of well-
being within their organizations.

Enhancing the motivation and productivity of police officers is a difficult, yet


achievable, objective. When administrators, supervisors, and officers are educated
about the many ways this can be achieved, they consistently can work together for
the common goal.

Chief Fortenbery can be reached at jay.fortenbery@edenton.nc.gov.

Endnotes
[1] Kevin Gilmartin, Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement: A Guide for Officers
and Their Families (Tucson, AZ: E-S Press, 2002).

[2] Stan Stojkovic, David Kalinich, and John Klofas, Criminal Justice Organizations:
Administration and Management (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2012).

[3] Micael Bjork, Fighting Cynicism: Some Reflections on Self-Motivation in Police


Work, Police Quarterly 11, no. 1 (March 2008): 88-101.

[4] Abraham Maslow, Motivation and Personality (New York, NY: Harper and Row,
1954).

[5] Stojkovic, Kalinich, and Klofas, Criminal Justice Organizations.

[6] Tracey Gove, Praise and Recognition: The Importance of Social Support in Law
Enforcement, FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, October 2005, 14-19,
http://leb.fbi.gov/2005-pdfs/leb-october-2005 (accessed January 26, 2015).

[7] Peter Finn, Reducing Stress: An Organization-Centered Approach, FBI Law


Enforcement Bulletin, August 1997, 20-26.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Gove, Praise and Recognition.

[11] Frederick Herzberg, Bernard Mausner, and Barbara Snyderman, The Motivation
to Work, 2nd ed. (New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, 1959); and P.J. Ortmeier and
Edwin Meese III, Leadership, Ethics, and Policing: Challenges for the 21st Century,
2nd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2009).

[12] Bjork, Fighting Cynicism.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Robin Dreeke, Self-Motivation and Self-Improvement, FBI Law Enforcement


Bulletin, August 2008, under Leadership Spotlight, http://leb.fbi.gov/2008-
pdfs/leb-august-2008 (accessed January 26, 2015).

[16] Ibid.

[17] Richard Johnson, Officer Attitudes and Management Influences on Police Work
Productivity, American Journal of Criminal Justice 36, no. 4 (December 2011): 293-
306, http://link.springer.com/ article/10.1007%2Fs12103-010-9090-2# (accessed
January 26, 2015).
[18] Kathy Harte, Kathleen Mahieu, David Mallett, Julie Norville, and Sander
VanderWerf, Improving Workplace Productivity: It Isnt Just About Reducing
Absence, Benefits Quarterly (Third Quarter 2011): 13-26,
http://www.aon.com/attachments/human-capital-consulting/Absence_Improving_
Workforce_Productivity_5-7-13.pdf (accessed January 26, 2015).

[19] Ibid.

[20] Daniel Shell, Physical Fitness Tips for the Law Enforcement Executive, FBI Law
Enforcement Bulletin, May 2005, 27-31, http://leb.fbi.gov/2005-pdfs/leb-may-2005
(accessed January 27, 2015).

[21] Ortmeier and Meese III, Leadership, Ethics, and Policing.

[22] Nathan Iannone, Marvin Iannone, and Jeffrey Bernstein, Supervision of Police
Personnel, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008).

[23] Ortmeier and Meese III, Leadership, Ethics, and Policing.

[24] Harry More and Larry Miller, Effective Police Supervision, 5th ed. (Cincinatti,
OH: Anderson Publishing, 2007).

[25] Stojkovic, Kalinich, and Klofas, Criminal Justice Organizations.

[26] Kenneth Peak, Justice Administration, Police, Courts, and Corrections


Management, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001).

[27] Robert Katz, Skills of an Effective Administrator, Harvard Business Review,


September 1974, https://hbr.org/1974/09/skills-of-an-effective-administrator/ar/1
(accessed January 27, 2015).

[28] Harte, Mahieu, Mallett, Norville, and VanderWerf, Improving Workplace


Productivity.

[29] Shell, Physical Fitness Tips for the Law Enforcement Executive.

[30] Wayne Schmidt, Weight and Fitness Requirements, AELE Monthly Law Journal
(December 2008): 201-208, http://www.aele.org/ law/2008ALL12/2008-12MLJ201.pdf
(accessed January 27, 2015).

[31] Ronald Loeppke, Michael Taitel, Dennis Richling, Thomas Parry, Ronald Kessler,
Pam Hymel, and Doris Konicki, Health and Productivity as a Business Strategy: A
Multiemployer Study, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 49, no. 7
(July 2007): 712-721, http://www.acoem.org/
uploadedFiles/Healthy_Workplaces_Now/HPM%20As%20a%20Business
%20Strategy.pdf (accessed January 27, 2015).

[32] Ibid.
[33] Thomas Collingwood, Robert Hoffman, and Jay Smith, Underlying Physical
Fitness Factors for Performing Police Officer Physical Tasks, The Police Chief 71, no.
3 (March 2004), http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?
fuseaction=display_ arch&article_ id=251&issue_id=32004 (accessed January 27,
2015).

[34] Michael Caldero and John Crank, Police Ethics: The Corruption of the Noble
Cause, rev. 3rd ed. (Burlington, MA: Anderson Publishing, 2011).

[35] Finn, Reducing Stress.

[36] Johnson, Officer Attitudes and Management Influences on Police Work


Productivity.

[37] Shell, Physical Fitness Tips for the Law Enforcement Executive.

[38] Harte, Mahieu, Mallett, Norville, and VanderWerf, Improving Workplace


Productivity; and Finn, Reducing Stress.

https://www.justice.gov/archive/crs/pubs/principlesofgoodpolicingfinal092003.htm

Principles of Good Policing:


Avoiding Violence Between Police and Citizens
(Revised September 2003)

www.usdoj.gov/crs
About the Community Relations Service

The Community Relations Service (CRS), a unique component of the U.S.


Department of Justice, seeks to prevent or resolve community conflicts and tensions
arising from actions, policies, and practices perceived to be discriminatory on the
basis of race, color, or national origin. CRS provides services, including conciliation,
mediation, and technical assistance, directly to people and their communities to
help them resolve conflicts that tear at the fabric of an increasingly racially and
ethnically diverse society.

CRS does not take sides among disputing parties and, in promoting the principles
and ideals of nondiscrimination, applies skills that allow parties to come to their own
agreement. In performing this mission, CRS deploys highly skilled professional
conciliators, who are able to assist people of diverse racial and cultural
backgrounds.

Police-citizen conflict accounts for a major portion of the disputes to which CRS
responds. The agency provides a wide range of conciliation and technical assistance
to help prevent or resolve disagreements over alleged police use of excessive force
and other policing issues. CRS carries out most of its activities informally, but will
conduct formal negotiations if the disputing parties believe that approach offers the
best opportunity for reaching a mutually satisfactory settlement of their differences.

www.usdoj.gov/crs
Foreword

Over the years, the Community Relations Service (CRS) of the U.S. Department of
Justice has assisted police departments and communities all over the country in
coming to grips with the difficult task of maintaining law and order in a complex and
changing multicultural society. Frequently, these efforts have involved minority
citizens' complaints about police behavior, use of force, and hate groups.

In the following pages of this third edition, the staff of the Community Relations
Service, together with knowledgeable law enforcement executives, have set out
guiding principles that should govern police work in the community.

The underlying assumption is that a police force and the community it serves must
reach consensus on the values that guide that police force. Those values, while
implicit in our Constitution, must embrace as clearly as possible the protection of
individual life and liberty, and, at the same time, the measures necessary to
maintain a peaceful and stable society. To accomplish this, a police executive must
be familiar not only with his or her own police culture, but with the community
culture as well, which is no easy task in neighborhoods experiencing major
demographic changes.

The Community Relations Service's involvement in police-citizen violence stems


directly from the CRS mandate to assist in community conflicts that threaten
peaceful race relations in communities. Among the causes of such disputes, none is
more volatile than allegations of unwarranted police use of deadly force against
minority citizens. Even a perception that police follow this practice is cause for
concern, because the negative impact on police-citizen relations will be the same.

These issues have been a central concern for CRS since its inception. However, the
agency stepped up its programming in this area during the late 1970s when its
caseload began to increase. A number of national leaders cited police-citizen
violence as a serious problem, and several independent studies indicated that
minorities were disproportionately the victims of police use of deadly force. In 1991,
the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles, videotaped by a citizen, was cause for
many departments and communities to re-examine police values and practices,
again resulting in a major increase in CRS casework in this area. More recently there
have been fatal shootings of African-Americans by Caucasian police officers,
including the deaths of Tyisha Miller in Riverside, California in 1998; Amadou Diallo
in New York City in 2000; and Timothy Thomas in Cincinnati in 2001.

In 1979, CRS organized one of the first major national conferences to examine the
deadly force issue and the safety of police officers. The League of United Latin
American Citizens and the National Urban League cosponsored the conference. It
involved some of the Nation's top police executives, national civil rights leaders,
criminal justice researchers, local community leaders, and rank-and-file police
officers in extensive discussions about the use-of-force issue. Those discussions laid
the groundwork for unprecedented cooperation on action programs by conference
participants when they returned to their home cities.

For more than 25 years, CRS has made the development and implementation of
innovative approaches to the deadly force problem--and dissemination of
information through other conferences, training workshops, and publications--a
major focus of its efforts. As one part of that effort in the mid-1980s, the agency
invited four of the Nation's outstanding law enforcement professionals to join in
examining the police function with an eye toward identifying techniques, tactics,
and approaches that should help to minimize violent police encounters with citizens.
Those professionals were Frank Amoroso, chief of police of Portland, Maine; Lee P.
Brown, chief of police of Houston, Texas; Charles Rodriguez, professor of criminal
justice at Southwest Texas University, and chief of police of San Antonio, Texas; and
Darrel W. Stephens, chief of police of Newport News, Virginia. This group and CRS's
own staff developed the recommendations and suggestions that were presented in
the first printing of this publication.

This publication is a 2003 revision of the 1993 edition. It maintains the strong
emphasis on police values and their affect on officer behavior and on the
community served by a department. New and expanded sections in the text and
appendices have been included on:

Community Policing
Changing Demograpics and Immigrant Patterns
Hate Crimes
Principles of Community Policing
Policing in the Post-September 11 Environment
Responding to Incidents Involving Allegations of Excessive Use of Force

It perhaps should be pointed out that CRS is well aware that citizens bear some of
the responsibility for the nature of relations with the police. In fact, CRS has
frequently addressed steps that citizens and police can take cooperatively to reduce
community racial tension in its field services and publications. The interest here, in
this publication, is in focusing exclusively on the police function, because of its
predominant importance in the overall equation of police-citizen relations.

Finally, while this publication is directed primarily towards law enforcement, it is


also CRS's intent to encourage law enforcement executives to use its contents to
explore their relationship with representatives of the communities in which they
work. In the Community Relations Service, we have always appreciated the benefits
of a preventive response versus a reactive one. Police executives will find this
publication helpful in devising techniques to avoid racial conflict and disharmony in
the communities they serve.
Preface

The relationship between the American public and law enforcement, particularly its
violent nature, has been under continual re-examination. Police-citizen violence and
related concerns are prime topics of conversation wherever law enforcement
professionals gather to discuss problems. Many police departments have made
reviewing their use of force a top priority. And major civil rights organizations have
made a priority of responding to police use of deadly force.

The dimensions of this issue are also reflected in the amount of research and
analyses devoted to it by criminal justice researchers and scholarly journals. In
addition, even a casual reading of the Nation's newspapers often yields accounts of
confrontations between police and citizens over the use of deadly force in situations
where racial and ethnic tensions create additional complications or difficulties.
Television news programs sometimes provide dramatic supporting videos,
graphically depicting the resulting tensions in a community.

Why has the relationship between law enforcement and citizens come under such
scrutiny? One reason is the significant number of killings by and of police officers in
recent years. A second factor is changes affecting municipal and civil liability, which
have put cities and employees of local governments under greater legal jeopardy
where use of force is applied.

Another important factor is a succession of court rulings placing more restrictions on


police use of firearms, including the 1985 Supreme Court decision in Tennessee v.
Garner, 471 U.S. 1, which invalidated parts of many states' rules for shooting at
fleeing felons. Still another reason is the increasing primacy given to preserving life
as a value underlying the concept of policing. There is also a movement to
modernize and improve police work from within the profession itself, partly in
reaction to the above incidents but also as a general response to larger changes in
U.S. society.

Two premises underlie the approaches to policing discussed in this publication. One
is that the police, by virtue of the authority that society vests in them, have
overarching responsibility for the outcome of encounters with citizens. This in no
way ignores the fact that the police must deal with such groups as criminals,
persons under the influence of alcohol and drugs, law-abiding citizens, and persons
with mental impairment. The second and main premise is that good policing must
take into consideration two equally important factors: the values on which a police
department operates, as well as the practices it follows.

In addition to adopting a set of values, it is equally important that police


departments clearly and publicly state those values. This sets forth a department's
philosophy of policing and its commitment to high standards for all to know and
understand. To be significant, these values must be known to all members of the
community as well as all members of the police department. In addition, a
department's values must incorporate citizens' expectations, desires, and
preferences. A department's policies and practices flow from its values. Without
clear values, it is unlikely that practices will be as well focused as they should.

Law enforcement practices constitute the second major focus of Principles of Good
Policing, taking into account major areas of police responsibility that can produce
incidents that escalate into violence. In isolating these situations, the publication
suggests how procedures, tactics, and techniques might be modified--or new
approaches implemented--to reduce the number of instances in which potentially
problematic police-citizen encounters become problems in reality. This publication
contains principles, practices, and philosophy that are applicable for law
enforcement of all jurisdictions. While the terms "police officer," "officer," "law
enforcement," and "department," are used throughout this publication, they are not
intended to exclude the many other kinds of law enforcement agencies and their
personnel, such as sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, marshals, deputy marshals, rangers,
agents, special agents, and investigators who make up the larger law enforcement
family that can benefit from this publication.

This publication also takes into account that there are no philosophies or practices
that will anticipate the entire range of human behavior that officers might encounter
in the course of police work. It is also understood that, ultimately, the police officer's
judgment will be the deciding factor in most cases. However, enough relevant
experience and information exist that officers can be given practical guidance
which, in many instances, will help to avoid situations escalating to violence.

Much recent effort to reduce police-citizen violence has focused exclusively on


imposing tighter restrictions on police use of firearms. Appropriate firearms restraint
is critically important, and the Community Relations Service (CRS) actively provides
technical assistance to police departments when they review and revise their
firearms and use of force policies. However, many departments have found it more
useful to pursue a number of administrative innovations as a package of protections
to officers, citizens, and crime suspects alike. That, essentially, is the approach this
publication takes.

It should also be emphasized that the safety of police officers is recognized as a


fundamental concern. No responsible citizen expects a police officer to risk his or
her life unnecessarily or foolishly. And no police chief worthy of the responsibility
would adopt policies or practices that expose officers to undue risk. Reverence for
all human life and safeguarding the guarantees of the Constitution and laws of the
United States are also important values in policing.

CRS's interest is in promoting the adoption of policies and practices that afford
maximum protection to officers and citizens. The content of this publication, in the
final analysis, is based on the principle that good policing involves a partnership
between police and citizens. Police cannot carry out their responsibility acting alone.
And it must also be emphasized that no police department that permits its officers
to use unnecessary force against citizens can hope to gain their support.

Only when sound values, mutual respect, and trust are shared--among all groups
that make up the community--can the police-citizen partnership work as it should.
The recommendations, suggestions, and observations in Principles of Good Policing
are offered to help achieve that bond between citizens and the police.

Law enforcement agencies have responsibility for the outcome of encounters with
citizens, and good policing involves the values upon which a department bases its
operations.
Values for Good Policing
The primary purpose of this publication is to assist law enforcement agencies in
reducing the incidence of violence between police officers and citizens. From the
perspective of the police executive, the successful accomplishment of that objective
should have two major benefits. First, it should enhance the safety of police officers.
Second, it should foster an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect between
the police and the people they serve. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a
basis for assessing a police department to determine, first of all, if its culture is
conducive to reducing violent confrontations between the police and citizens.
Equally important, this chapter provides a frame of reference which can be used by
any police chief to develop policy, make decisions, implement programs, and,
ultimately guide the manner in which the department delivers police services to the
community.
The Role of Police

The role of policing has been dynamic since it became a profession in 1829 under
Sir Robert Peel in London, England. The relationship between police and citizens in
American society is generally understood as a progression from the political era,
when police were introduced in American cities in the 1840s to the early 1900s; to
the reform era, stretching across the middle part of the 20th century from the 1930s
to the 1970s; and then to the community era of modern policing since the 1970s.1
Williams and Murphy point out the lack of involvement of minorities in policing
throughout these different eras. Communities of color were largely powerless during
the political era and thus not able to influence police strategy. During the reform
era, police strategy was determined largely on the basis of law, although
communities of color were generally unprotected.2 In today's community era of
policing, one of the tenets is the requirement for a cohesive community working in
partnership with a responsive police department. Williams and Murphy state that
this precondition does not prevail in many minority neighborhoods.

The Community Relations Service (CRS) of the U.S. Department of Justice has
cosponsored a number of forums and worked closely with racial and ethnic police
organizations, including the Hispanic American Police Command Officers
Association, National Asian Peace Officers Association, National Black Police Officers
Association, National Latino Peace Officers Association, National Native American
Law Enforcement Association, and National Organization of Black Law Enforcement
Executives. These forums focused on the relationship between minority citizens and
police. Williams and Murphy emphasize just how serious the discussion about the
contemporary role of policing in America is:

the history of American police strategies cannot be separated from the history
of the Nation as a whole. Unfortunately, our police, and all of our other institutions,
must contend with many bitter legacies from that larger history. No paradigm--and
no society--can be judged satisfactory until those legacies have been confronted
directly.

The Report of the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department
(July 9, 1991) also bluntly states in its foreword that violence between police and
citizens is not something from an era of policing that is behind us:
Police violence is not a local problem. Recognizing its national character, police
chiefs from 10 major cities convened soon after the Rodney King incident and
emphasized that "the problem of excessive force in American policing is real.

The Police Culture

The "culture" of a police department reflects what that department believes in as an


organization. These beliefs are reflected in the department's recruiting and selection
practices, policies and procedures, training and development, and ultimately, in the
actions of its officers in law enforcement situations. Clearly, all police departments
have a culture. The key question is whether that culture has been carefully
developed or simply allowed to develop without benefit of thought or guidance.
There are police agencies, for example, where police use of force is viewed as
abnormal. Thus, when it is used, the event receives a great deal of administrative
attention. Such a response reflects the culture of that department: the use of force
is viewed and responded to as an atypical occurrence. Contrast such a department
with one which does not view the use of force as abnormal. In the latter case, there
may be inadequate or poorly understood policies providing officers with guidelines
regarding the use of force. There probably is no administrative procedure for
investigating incidents where force is used. And, most importantly, the culture of
the department is such that officers come to view the use of force as an acceptable
way of resolving conflict.

Over the past few years, there has been significant progress in improving police-
community relationships. Yet, the major problem creating friction between the
police and the community today--especially in communities of color--is police use of
deadly force. This is an age-old problem of which only in recent years has the public
become aware. The fact that this problem existed for such a long time before
receiving widespread attention can again be related to the culture of the police.

Until the Tennessee v. Garner decision in 1985, few if any police departments had
developed their firearms policy around a value system that reflected reverence for
human life. Rather, those agencies which did have written policies (and many did
not) reflected the prevailing police culture in those policies. The prevailing culture
centered on enforcement of the law. Thus, the official policies of most police
agencies allowed officers to fire warning shots, to shoot fleeing felons, or to use
deadly force in other circumstances reflected less than the highest value for human
life.

It is clear that the culture of a police department, to a large degree, determines the
organization's effectiveness. That culture determines the way officers view not only
their role, but also the people they serve. The key concern is the nature of that
culture and whether it reflects a system of beliefs conducive to the nonviolent
resolution of conflict.

How do you establish a positive departmental culture? In answering this question, it


is important to emphasize again that all departments have a culture. It is also
important to recognize that the culture of a police department, once established, is
difficult to change. Organizational change within a police agency does not occur in a
revolutionary fashion. Rather, it is evolutionary.
Developing a Set of Values

The beginning point in establishing a departmental culture is to develop a set of


values. Values serve a variety of purposes, including:

Set forth a department's philosophy of policing


State in clear terms what a department believes in
Articulate in broad terms the overall goals of the department
Reflect the community's expectations of the department
Serve as a basis for developing policies and procedures
Serve as the parameters for organizational flexibility
Provide the basis for operational strategies
Provide the framework for officer performance
Serve as a framework from which the department can be evaluated

In developing a set of values for a police department, it is not necessary to come up


with a lengthy list. Rather, there should be a few values which, when taken
together, represent what the organization considers important. For example, if it is
the objective of the department to create a culture that is service oriented, then
that should be reflected in its set of values. In other words the importance of values
is qualitative, not quantitative.

Finally, an essential role of the police chief is to ensure that the values of the
department are well articulated throughout the organization. To accomplish this, the
chief as leader must ensure that there is a system to facilitate effective
communication of the values. This includes recognizing and using the organization's
informal structure. This is important because, in addition to the formal structure,
values are transmitted through its informal process as well as its myths, legends,
metaphors, and the chief's own personality.

Each police department should develop a set of policing values that reflects its own
community. Fortunately, there is a general set of policing values that can serve as a
framework for any department to build upon to meet local needs. Developing a set
of organizational values is not difficult. A police executive should first clearly explain
what values are to those in uniform. Then the executive should ask each member of
the department to list what he or she considers the five most important values for
the department. The findings of such an exercise will represent a consensus on the
values department members hold most dear--an excellent starting point for creating
a set of departmental values. What follows is the previously mentioned general set
of values of good policing, which can be the springboard for a department's own
formulation:

The police department must preserve and advance the principles of democracy. All
societies must have a system for maintaining order. Police officers in this country,
however, must not only know how to maintain order, but must do so in a manner
consistent with our democratic form of government. Therefore, it is incumbent upon
the police to enforce the law and deliver a variety of other services in a manner that
not only preserves, but also extends precious American values. It is in this context
that the police become the living expression of the meaning and potential of a
democratic form of government. The police must not only respect, but also protect
the rights guaranteed to each citizen by the Constitution. To the extent each officer
considers his or her responsibility to include protection of the constitutionally
guaranteed rights of all individuals, the police become the most important
employees in the vast structure of government.

The police department places its highest value on the preservation of human life.
Above all, the police department must believe that human life is our most precious
resource. Therefore, the department, in all aspects of its operations, will place its
highest priority on the protection of life. This belief must be manifested in at least
two ways. First, the allocation of resources and the response to demands for service
must give top priority to those situations that threaten life. Second, even though
society authorizes the police to use deadly force, the use of such force must not
only be justified under the law, but must also be consistent with the philosophy of
rational and humane social control.

The police department believes that the prevention of crime is its number one
operational priority. The department's primary mission must be the prevention of
crime. Logic makes it clear that it is better to prevent a crime than to put the
resources of the department into motion after a crime has been committed. Such an
operational response should result in an improved quality of life for citizens, and a
reduction in the fear that is generated by both the reality and perception of crime.

The police department will involve the community in the delivery of its services. It is
clear that the police cannot be successful in achieving their mission without the
support and involvement of the people they serve. Crime is not solely a police
problem, and it should not be considered as such. Rather, crime must be responded
to as a community problem. Thus, it is important for the police department to
involve the community in its operations. This sharing of responsibility involves
providing a mechanism for the community to collaborate with the police both in the
identification of community problems and determining the most appropriate
strategies for resolving them. It is counterproductive for the police to isolate
themselves from the community and not allow citizens the opportunity to work with
them.

The police department believes it must be accountable to the community it serves.


The police department also is not an entity unto itself. Rather, it is a part of
government and exists only for the purpose of serving the public to which it must be
accountable. An important element of accountability is openness. Secrecy in police
work is not only undesirable but unwarranted. Accountability means being
responsive to the problems and needs of citizens. It also means managing police
resources in the most cost-effective manner. It must be remembered that the power
to police comes from the consent of those being policed.

The police department is committed to professionalism in all aspects of its


operations. The role of the professional organization is to serve its clients. The
police department must view its role as serving the citizens of the community. A
professional organization also adheres to a code of ethics. The police department
must be guided by the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics.3 A profession polices itself.
The police department must ensure that it maintains a system designed to promote
the highest level of discipline among its members.
The police department will maintain the highest standards of integrity. The society
invests in its police the highest level of trust. The police, in turn, enter into a
contractual arrangement with society to uphold that trust. The police must always
be mindful of this contractual arrangement and never violate that trust. Each
member of the police department must recognize that he or she is held to a higher
standard than the private citizen. They must recognize that, in addition to
representing the department, they also represent the law enforcement profession
and government. They are the personifications of the law. Their conduct, both on
and off duty, must be beyond reproach. There must not be even a perception in the
public's mind that the department's ethics are open to question.

Recognizing that society is undergoing massive changes, police agencies are


confronted with a great challenge. The essence of that challenge is to be able to
respond to problems created by social change, while at the same time providing the
stability that holds a society together during a period of uncertainty.

By setting forth a clear set of values, articulating what it believes in, the police
department has a foundation to guide itself. Such a foundation also allows for
organizational flexibility. In addition, a set of values provides the community with a
means of assessing its police department without having to become involved in
technical operations. Value statements serve as the linkage between the ongoing
operations of a police department and the community's ability not only to
participate, but also to understand the reason for police department strategies. It is
within this context that the recommendations and suggestions in the following
pages are presented.
Contemporary Issues in Policing

Close observers have seen a number of changes in policing. Many changes have
come in the form of programs developed to address a specific issue or problem and
supported with funding from outside of police departments. These programs include
community-oriented policing, school resource officers, police-community programs
such as Midnight Basketball, and drug and gang reduction programs. While most of
these contemporary programs made positive contributions to the police
organization or the community, they often did not survive after outside funding
stopped because they were implemented alongside what the police department was
already doing and were never integrated into day-to-day operations.

Moreover, many of these programs were implemented without full understanding of


the factors involved in the issue or problem they were designed to address. The
exponential growth of public and private funding created a whole new profession of
grant writing for local government and law enforcement. Interest and competition
for the grants were keen; in fact, in many cases, the success of some law
enforcement executives was measured by local officials on their success in
competing for outside funding. And while many organizations became proficient at
writing successful grant proposals and some positive results were achieved through
programs such as McGruff and D.A.R.E. which became very popular in the
community, there were other problems that did not lend themselves so easily to
specially funded programs: officer recruitment and selection, community
demographic and diversity changes, immigration-related policing problems, cross-
cultural communication, and bias-based policing. Counter-terrorism was recently
added to this list. The problem of police-citizen violence, although it receives
considerable media and community attention and generates genuine community
tension, is one that does not readily lend itself to solution through a specially
funded program. Police management software can now be obtained to track
individual officer activity including tickets written, complaints, accidents, incidents,
assignments, and other custom factors to help alert the law enforcement executive
to problem officers. However, the solution does not lie in technology alone.
Encouraging positive values and an enlightened philosophy of policing hold some of
the greatest promise for addressing many contemporary issues in policing.

When violence occurs between police and citizens, the situation may be complex.
Violence often occurs in a setting where the police officer or citizen may receive
considerable support for a violent act. From the law enforcement standpoint, there
may be a solid legal basis for the police officer's use of force, including deadly force.
Attempts to minimize violent encounters between the police and community must
focus on the police, since their likelihood of exercising control over potentially
violent interactions is much greater. But even when the effort to control violence
focuses on the police, the complexity of the situation brings a wide range of issues
and situations to consider which confront law enforcement officers every day.
Changing Demographics and Immigration Patterns

Delivery of policing services in multicultural communities is now common.


Immigration has been the major driver of growth in many areas of the country.
Asian immigrants have accounted for 43 percent of this growth since 1970, greatly
increasing the presence of languages, cultural values, experiences, and lifestyles
with which many other Americans have had little contact. Hispanic immigration and
migration has reached every State in the country, resulting in new cross-cultural
exchanges in many communities. The social fabric of many communities is in
transition. Multiculturalism is already a reality in many communities and institutions.
The extraordinary infusion of newcomers can heighten risk factors for conflict
because of the underdevelopment of social organization within the newly arrived
population and the inexperience of existing governmental and community resources
working with them. The movement of existing American-born racial and ethnic
populations towards an increasingly suburban and rural pattern includes heightened
vulnerability to racial incidents and conflict between police and citizens. Organized
racial or ethnic gangs or gang-like groups may form to prey upon newer residents of
other races and ethnic groups in an attempt to force them to move and to prevent
others from moving to suburban or rural communities.

For these reasons understanding and recognizing changing community cultural and
ethnic diversity is important to contemporary law enforcement efforts. Cultural
characteristics such as language, customs and traditions are key elements which
affect the relationship between immigrant populations and police. The challenge for
the law enforcement executive is to recognize community and cultural diversity by
effectively responding to the law enforcement and community needs of culturally
diverse groups. In trying to accomplish this mission law enforcement executives
have successfully utilized such strategies as recruiting officers from the immigrant
community, cultural diversity training, community involvement, establishing
community advisory committees, and educating the immigrant population on the
fundamentals of the U.S. criminal justice system. Expanding or establishing
community organizations to bridge relationships between racial and ethnic groups
and between law enforcement and the community may be an important step
towards improving community relations. Law enforcement executives and police
officers would be well served by a high degree of involvement with community
organizations, so that members of the police department are clearly seen as
members of the community.
Policing in the Post-September 11 Environment

There is no better application of the principles of good policing than in the post-
September 11 environment. In the face of the dramatic terrorist attacks against the
United States, the vast majority of America's communities responded with restraint,
tolerance, and good will. At the forefront of these efforts have been police chiefs
and other law enforcement executives, who captured the spirit of police-community
cooperation. This has been no small challenge, given the divisions, fears, and other
internal stresses which arose during this unprecedented emergency.

Police chiefs and other local officials recognized that this was a time for police-
community cooperation and collaboration, a time to minimize any divisions and
distractions from the common national priority of combating terrorism. Homeland
security requires communities of cooperation and citizens of goodwill. A climate of
personal safety and protection requires increased trust of governmental institutions
and agencies, especially law enforcement. Important information is more likely to be
volunteered to authorities. Suspicious and unusual activity will be reported, and
investigations can proceed. Further, public trust and confidence reduce community
tensions, especially between groups that may feel unprotected and suspected by
government institutions.

The aftermath of September 11 became an opportunity for police departments and


other government agencies, including CRS, to deepen their relationships with Arab-
American, Sikh, and Muslim communities. While these communities were fairly well
established, there had been little occasion for outreach and educational activities
before September 11. Since September 11, CRS has conducted hundreds of public
forums, dialogues, and other events designed to build bridges between police
departments and these communities.

What were some of the elements which helped to create the positive relations,
especially between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve?

Tone-setting messages by public officials ranging from the Nation's highest public
officials to town mayors and police chiefs helped to create an atmosphere of
moderation and restraint. Their public cautions against misdirected behavior
towards fellow citizens and pledges to vigorously prosecute of any attacks against
individuals or groups went a long way towards establishing expectations of fairness
and justice.
Prompt and sensitive attention by government and law enforcement officials to
racial and ethnic attacks and incidents helped to create trust and confidence in
public officials and institutions. When incidents and hate crimes were reported,
most law enforcement agencies reacted with dispatch, sensitivity, and
thoroughness.
Improved cooperation and coordination among Federal, regional, and local
policing and other law enforcement agencies helped bridge jurisdictional tensions
and prevent conflicts. Since September 11, investigative agencies have enjoyed
unparalleled cooperation, combining resources and experience in their investigative
and prosecutorial efforts.
Intensive training by police and government agencies in Arab, Muslim, and Sikh
issues helped to head off cross-cultural conflicts, misunderstandings, and tensions.
Law enforcement agencies recognized that they needed to deepen their
understanding of these cultures, and many secured training to help officers to be
sensitive to the particular cross-cultural dimensions of police work.
Outreach by police departments to Arab-American, Muslim, and Sikh communities
provided police and leaders from these communities an opportunity to develop
cooperative working relationships. Effective policing involved deliberate efforts by
police chiefs to extend their connections to these communities by visits, calls, and
public forums to listen, learn of concerns, and reassure members of these
communities that their concerns are taken seriously.

Police Culture/Police Society

Regarding the competing forces pulling at the police officer, Jerome Skolnik writes:

The combination of danger and authority found in the task of the policeman
unavoidably combine to frustrate procedural regularity. If it were possible to
structure social roles with specific qualities, it would be wise to propose that these
two should never, for the sake of the rule of law, be permitted to coexist. Danger
typically yields self-defensive conduct, conduct that must strain to be impulsive
because danger arouses fear and anxiety so easily. Authority under such conditions
becomes a resource to reduce perceived threats rather than a series of reflective
judgments arrived at calmly. The ability to be discreet, in the sense discussed
above, is also affected. As a result, procedural requirements take on a "frilly"
character, or at least tend to be reduced to a secondary position in the face of
circumstances seen as threatening.4

Skolnik's description of this aspect of the police officer's role provides some
measure of understanding of how violence might occur in encounters with citizens.
It also provides a basis for the formation of "police culture" or the police society.
While most occupational groups develop their own identity, the police identity
seems to be much stronger because of the nature of the work. There is a belief that
one cannot understand the difficulty of the work without having done it.

As a result, when a community questions the actions of the police--as can be


expected when a police officer uses a firearm--the law enforcement profession has a
tendency to close ranks and defend the officer at all costs. The development of this
"police society" begins with academy training (or even before in the recruiting and
selection process) and continues until the individual becomes an accepted part of
the fraternity. An example of how this socialization process might take place
appears in Jonathan Rubinstein's City Police:

A rookie patrolman was sitting in the roll call room waiting for his tour to begin
when his wagon partner left a small group to come and sit next to him. It was the
first time anyone had spoken to him before roll call in the two weeks he had been in
the district. "Hey, Tony, I been meanin' to ask you, where'd you get that little stick
you carry?" "It's what they issued us at the academy," the rookie replied. "No kiddin.
Take my advice and get rid of it. Go down to Coteman's and get yourself one of
them new plastic sticks. They're good and solid, not a toothpick." The rookie
fidgeted, kept his eyes on the floor, and quietly replied, "I don't want to be that
way."5

Although reluctant, the rookie bought one of the new nightsticks the next day. The
socialization process is generally more subtle, and assignment procedures may well
contribute to the police society. Many departments, for example, rotate patrol
officers' shifts weekly, which makes association with people other than police
officers extremely difficult.

In addition to assignment patterns, the job itself tends to cause social isolation.
After a period of time as a police officer, it is not uncommon for an officer to begin
avoiding contacts with old friends, even when scheduling permits, because of the
tendency to hear stories about traffic tickets and other negative encounters people
may have had with the police. The result is the creation of an environment where an
officer withdraws further and further from the community. He or she moves towards
the protective shell of the police world where colleagues understand the nuances of
the work.

From the standpoint of addressing the problem of police-community violence, the


"police society" is critical. The reinforcement of narrow views by limiting contact
only to other officers has an impact on the creation and perpetuation of violent
encounters with citizens. The "police society" also severely hampers efforts to
investigate complaints of excessive force. The police profession must reach a point
where violence is discouraged at the peer level. When violence does occur, police
officers themselves must be involved in providing information to the investigative
process impartially and with integrity. At the same time, there are also positive
aspects to a close-knit work group, and care must be taken to ensure these positive
aspects are not harmed when attempting to deal with the negative ones.
Recruitment and Selection

Bringing the right type of people into law enforcement is another major aspect of
any effort to improve the police profession and address the violence issue. Most
discussions of police reform have touched on the importance of recruitment and
selection as a long-term strategy for improvement. Although this may be obvious,
they are difficult problems in and of themselves and, in addition, also a source of
conflict between the police and the community.

The source of conflict is disagreement over what type of person is best able to
handle the responsibilities of a police officer. One continuing debate is the amount
and type of education appropriate for a police officer. Another debate involves the
police agency's racial make-up. While there is general agreement on the need for a
police department to reflect the make-up of the community it serves, there is
considerable disagreement on how that balance should be attained. The courts
have put to rest some of the physical requirements thought to be important for the
police for so many years. But the question of the psychological make-up of an
officer--and how it should be measured--has yet to be resolved.

Although there is a wide range of opinion on what type of person is best suited to
handle the rigors of the job, three factors are considered vital in terms of violence
between the police and community. These factors should be incorporated into the
overall process of recruiting and selecting police officers:

The department should have a ratio of employees of color and national origin that
reflects the diversity of the community it serves.
Continued emphasis should be placed on bringing into law enforcement people
reflecting a variety of college disciplines.
Individuals should be psychologically suited to handle the requirements of the
job.

Recruitment. Once an agency decides what type of individual it wants as an officer,


it needs to develop a recruitment plan. Many departments limit their recruiting
efforts to local newspaper advertisements when positions are open. This method
will usually produce a pool of applicants. However, the type of individual sought
may not respond to newspaper advertisements.

It is not unusual to hear in police circles that selection criteria are extremely rigid
and that only 1 or 2 out of 10 applicants will survive the entire process and be
offered a position. One could also make a convincing argument that recruitment
efforts are not very effective if 8 or 9 of 10 applicants cannot survive the recruiting
process. Perhaps the effort devoted to processing applicants unsuited to becoming
police officers could be redirected to recruiting the right type of applicant. The point
here is that the recruiting method should be carefully designed to attract the type of
applicant desired.

Law enforcement agencies use a variety of approaches to recruit applicants. Some


send recruiting teams to "career days" on college campuses, while others send
recruiters to various cities to look for experienced police officers. Still others
concentrate recruiting resources on their immediate geographic area. Many
departments have made use of the local news media through feature stories, public
service announcements, and Internet job postings. Some have also used business
and corporate assistance to develop brochures that provide accurate information
about what the department offers. An agency may need to circulate its recruitment
announcements using a number of methods, such sending them to a diverse group
of community leaders, setting up a table at community meetings, shopping malls,
schools, colleges, and community gathering places.

A factor that has an immense impact, but is often not addressed effectively in
recruiting plans is the influence of existing members of the police organization.
Negative attitudes of individual officers about their job and the department may
cause potential applicants to look elsewhere for employment. On the other hand,
positive attitudes may exist for the wrong reasons--for example, because the
department has an image as a place for "macho," TV-style cops.
Therefore, it is important that the recruiting plan and its underlying rationale be
shared with all employees, so they have a clear understanding of the department's
objectives. Employees can serve as excellent recruiters if they know these
objectives and appreciate the critical importance of their jobs. Employees can also
better discuss some of those issues often put forth as impediments to attracting
high quality applicants. For example, they can speak directly to issues such as low
pay and the difficulties of shift work. They are in the best position to talk about
positive as well as negative aspects of a police career.

The objective of a recruiting program should be to attract a large enough pool of


desirable applicants to fill department vacancies. This does not mean that the only
measure of the recruiting effort should be the number of people who complete
employment applications. If a department needs a higher ratio of employees from
different racial and ethnic groups to reflect the community, and the only people
completing applications are not from desired groups or do not meet basic
requirements, then the objective is obviously not being met. The recruiting plan
must contain relevant and measurable objectives that are monitored to ensure
every effort is being made to meet them.

Selection. After an individual has expressed an interest in becoming a police officer,


most departments begin a process that involves a series of steps designed to aid in
making the selection decision. The selection process continues to receive a great
deal of attention. Arbitrary selection standards that were common in the past have
been eliminated by courts and other actions. Further research should be conducted
by the human resources department of a police department to establish a sound
selection process.

The close examination of this process has underscored its importance. It has also
helped focus attention on developing a better understanding of the police officer's
job and on including steps that measure whether a candidate has the potential for
meeting those requirements. Even with these improvements, a number of selection
issues have continued to generate considerable controversy. Two of these,
educational requirements and psychological screening, are measures believed to
have potential for reducing violence between the police and community. However,
these alternatives obviously would take years to change the make-up of a
department. In many departments, psychological screening and educational
requirements cannot be imposed upon individuals currently employed.

Educational issues have been a long-standing topic of discussion in law enforcement


circles. As early as 1931, the Wickersham Commission report noted the need for
higher levels of education.6 The President's Commission on Law Enforcement and
the Administration of Justice recommended in its Police task force report that
officers should have a minimum of two years of college and supervisors and
administrators should have four years.7 The National Commission on Police
Standards and Goals established a standard in its Police report, published in 1973,
that by 1983 a basic entry-level requirement should be a baccalaureate degree from
an accredited college or university.8 It is now thought that a diversity of degrees is
preferable to only criminal justice degrees to avoid similarity of thinking among
officers and to avoid limiting the broad experience required for an effective law
enforcement agency.
These reports were followed by many other calls for similar requirements, but the
reality has been that few departments have actually made any changes in entry-
level educational requirements. A 1985 report published by the Police Executive
Research Forum, The American Law Enforcement Chief Executive: A Management
Profile, noted: "In 1976 the Police Chief Executive Committee recommended the
immediate institution of a four-year college degree for new chief executives of all
agencies with 75 or more full-time employees. Nearly ten years later, almost 50-
percent of those officials still do not possess a baccalaureate degree."9

If it is not possible to make much progress at the top, the entry-level standards will
be extremely slow to change. It is not within the scope of this publication to set
forth all of the arguments for vigorously pursuing the upgrading of entry-level
requirements. Regardless, many believe that an entry-level requirement of a
bachelors' degree would go a long way towards addressing a number of problems in
law enforcement, including violence between police and the community.

The psychological fitness of police officers is also of major importance in addressing


the violence issue. A police officer has considerable discretion in the manner in
which day-to-day responsibilities are fulfilled. This discretion extends to the use of
force. One method to improve the prediction of whether an individual is able to
handle police responsibilities is psychological evaluation. Although many
departments do not use psychological screening in the selection process, the
Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies has established the
following as a mandatory standard for all agencies:

32.6.6 An emotional stability and psychological fitness examination of each


candidate is conducted, prior to appointment to probationary status, using valid,
useful, and nondiscriminatory procedures.

Commentary: Law enforcement work is highly stressful and places officers in


positions and situations of heavy responsibility. Psychiatric and psychological
assessments are needed to screen out candidates who might not be able to carry
out their responsibilities or endure the stress of the working conditions.10

The importance that the Commission on Accreditation has placed on this area by
making it a mandatory standard is obvious. If an agency does not currently use this
tool in the selection process, it will take a number of years for its adoption to have
an effect on the organization, but it would be a positive step towards minimizing
future problems.
Training

Training can have a significant impact on all aspects of police service delivery and is
of critical importance in the control of police-community violence. A Police
Foundation study on the use of deadly force published in 1977 noted: "In the course
of this study police chiefs and administrators were asked what steps they would
consider most likely to bring about a reduction in unnecessary shootings by police
officers. The most common response was to recommend a tight firearms policy
coupled with an effective training program."11
While one can generally agree with this response, findings in the 1982 International
Association of Chiefs of Police report, A Balance of Forces, also need to be
considered:

In-service crisis intervention training as opposed to preservice training was


associated with a low justifiable homicide rate by police.
Agencies with simulator, stress, and physical exertion firearms training
experience a higher justifiable homicide rate by police than agencies without such
training.
Marksmanship awards given to officers for proficiency in firearms training are
associated with a high justifiable homicide rate by the police.
In-service training in the principles of "officer survival" is correlated with a high
justifiable homicide rate by the police.12

These findings clearly suggest that when it comes to training police officers, both
the type of training and the approach to training police officers must be carefully
examined. In examining this area, Herman Goldstein makes several pertinent
observations on police entry-level training in Policing a Free Society:

The success of training is commonly measured in terms of the number of hours of


classroom work. Eight weeks is considered 100 percent improvement over four
weeks
those who have analyzed the status of recruit training have found much that is
wrongthe programs are structured to convey only one point of view on
controversial matters in a manner intended to avoid open discussion.
there is an unreal quality in the training program in the emphasis placed on
military protocol, in their narrow concept of the police function, and in their
according-to-the-book teaching of police operations.
they tend to portray the police officer's job as a rigid one, largely dictated by
law, ignoring the tremendous amount of discretion officers are required to exercise.
training programs fail to achieve the minimal goal of orienting a new employee
to his jobfailure to equip officers to understand the built-in stresses of their job
officers are left to discover on their own the binds in which society places them
If recruit training is inadequate, in-service training is more so.13

In Goldstein's observations one begins to understand some of the limitations of


automatically turning to training to solve all problems. Perhaps it also suggests why
some training programs may be associated with a higher rate of police justifiable
homicides. A more recent observation in this area is made by Scharf and Binder in
The Badge and the Bullet:

Our analysis suggests a framework in which to analyze training related to police


deadly force. Few training programs have attempted to conceptualize the varied
and complex competencies necessary to implement a responsible deadly force
policy.

Most trainingfocuses upon one or possibly two isolated competencies. Shooting


simulators attempt to train police officers to quickly identify threats against them.
Some crisis intervention training approaches focus almost exclusively upon the
verbal skills useful in dealing with a limited range of disputes. If training is to be
effective in reducing the aggregate number of police shootings, it must focus on
multiple psychological dimensions, emphasizing those capacities that might
influence police behavior in a wide range of armed confrontations. Also, such
training should be conducted in environments simulating the complex, and often
bewildering, conditions in which deadly force episodes usually take place. From our
observations, this approach to shooting training is rare in police departments.14

Scharf and Binder's observations indicate a need to rethink the approach to firearms
training and, at the same time, reinforce Goldstein's observations almost 10 years
earlier on training in general. Both observations, however, seem to suggest that the
advantages to be gained from training will not be realized until programs go beyond
teaching a single response to complex situations. The focus should be on training
and developing a "thinking police officer" who analyzes situations and responds in
the appropriate manner based upon a value system such as this publication
proposes.

This is obviously a much different approach to training than has been used in law
enforcement. It requires consideration of a total situation as opposed to focusing
solely on the final "shoot/don't shoot" decision. This does not mean that many of the
components of current training programs should be dropped. They need to be tied
together into a decision-making framework that causes officers to make decisions in
earlier stages of responding to a call or handling an incident. This would minimize
the risk of a situation evolving to a point where the use of firearms is required to
protect someone's life.

In support of a new approach to police training, Los Angeles County Sheriff's


Department psychologists Marcia C. Mills and John G. Stratton reported findings in
the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin in February 1982 that "The nature of academy
training and type of services actually provided are often discrepant. Seventy to 90
percent of police training is devoted to crime control, laws, and police procedures,
while frequently 70 to 90 percent of subsequent job duties are devoted to
interpersonal communication and interaction."
Policy and Accountability

Policy is a guide to the thinking and actions of those responsible for making
decisions. Its essence is discretion. And policy serves as a guide to exercising that
discretion. The development of policies to guide the use of discretion by police
officers is key to the effective management of police organizations. It is also critical
to the control of violence between the police and community.

A primary consideration of policy development, then, is to build accountability into


police operations. As stated in the opening chapter on values, the principle of police
agency accountability to the citizens it serves is fundamental to the relationship.
Police departments which that adopted values that uphold professionalism and
integrity have consistently established policies that recognize the importance of
accountability systems that build citizens' trust in police agency programs and
personnel.

The importance of policy development has also been underscored by the


Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Most of the
commission's standards require a written directive to provide proof of compliance
with those standards. Almost all of the agencies that have been accredited, or are in
the process of self-assessment, have commented on how the documentation of
their policies and procedures has been improved. There are three policy areas of
particular significance with respect to police violence concerns: policies dealing with
firearms, citizen complaints, and public information.

Use of Force and Alternatives. The appropriate use of force and the use of the least
amount of force in effecting arrests are essential values which characterize a
department that respects the sanctity of life. Officers and departments that fail to
train in and demonstrate the use of appropriate force, not only create the potential
for heightened racial conflict, but also raise high municipal liability risks for their
communities. Officers who are skilled in conflict resolution will find ways to avoid
higher levels of confrontation. Where conflict cannot be avoided, less than lethal
force can be employed by law enforcement personnel in accord with changing
community values.

Citizen Complaints and Other Redress Systems. Even the best police department
will receive complaints, and the absence of an effective complaint procedure has
figured prominently in many cities troubled by allegations of excessive force. In fact,
"Citizen complaints about police behavior, particularly the excessive use of force, is
one part of the larger problem of relations between the police and racial and ethnic
minority communities," according to Samuel Walker and Betsy Wright Kreisel.15 As
a result, police executives generally recognize the need for a trustworthy vehicle for
citizens to seek redress of grievances involving alleged police misconduct.16 Most
police chiefs know that when a department conveys to the public that it accepts
complaints and is willing to aggressively examine allegations of abuse, police
officers can expect to win the citizens' confidence needed to do their job more
effectively. The department's complaint procedure should be set forth in writing
regardless of the size of the community or the department.17

The best way to ensure that police officers conduct themselves properly in the
performance of their duties is to set reasonable policies and then establish effective
procedures for internal review and sanctions. But, as indicated above, the system
for handling citizen complaints must be one in which all citizens have confidence.
Nor can the principle be ignored that the police department is a public service
agency which ultimately must be accountable to the citizens. An increasing number
of cities in which citizens have lost confidence in the internal review process have
tried various configurations of civilian oversight mechanisms or civilian overview
boards with mixed results. A number of arguments are made both in favor of and
against these mechanisms. For example, some observers hold that the police
cannot objectively review themselves, that civilian review strengthens public
confidence in the department, and that it ensures that police officers do not abuse
the law. "Official data on citizen complaints consistently show that racial and ethnic
minorities are overrepresented among persons alleging police misconduct,"
according to Walker and Kreisel. This has resulted in a situation in which "the
perceived failure of internal police complaint procedures has led civil rights groups
to demand the creation of external, or citizen complaint review procedures," Walker
and Kreisel conclude.18 On the other hand, critics of civilian oversight or review
maintain that civilians lack the knowledge and experience to evaluate the police,
that such oversight inhibits officers' use of force when it is warranted, and that such
mechanisms are redundant, because police themselves review complaints against
officers.

When municipal officials attempt to establish a civilian oversight mechanism, police


executives should anticipate strong resistance from rank and file officers. In fact,
even some of the most progressive police officials do not favor civilian oversight
mechanisms. While they agree that there is a need for public accountability, these
officials point out that oversight groups are not panaceas and have had only mixed
success. They also suggest that emotions aroused by establishment of civilian
oversight mechanisms may themselves lead to insurmountable problems. Citizens
who are chosen to serve can be briefed by police officials on policy, practices, and
procedures and help them become more acquainted with the department's
operations so that they can serve better.

There are four basic types of oversight systems:

Type 1. Citizens investigate allegations of police misconduct and recommend


findings to the chief or sheriff.
Type 2. Police officers investigate allegations and develop findings; citizens then
review the findings and recommend that the chief or sheriff approve or reject the
findings.
Type 3. Complainants may appeal findings made by the police or sheriff's
department to citizens, who review them and then recommend their own findings to
the chief or sheriff.
Type 4. An auditor investigates the process by which the police or sheriff's
department accepts and investigates complaints and reports on the thoroughness
and fairness of the process to the department and the public.19

Those establishing civilian oversight mechanisms, regardless of type or format,


must address six issues when designing a charter:

How much access to information will the public be given regarding the complaint
and the process?
Will conciliation between the complainant and the officer be attempted?
Does the oversight agency or the police executive determine discipline for
officers?
What are the rights of officers during the process?
Who receives complaints, and who investigates complaints?
Will police officers be included or excluded as members of the oversight board?20

Municipal Liability. The U.S. Supreme Court in Monell v. Department of Social


Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), concluded that local
governing bodies/municipalities can be held liable when a plaintiff alleges and
proves "that official policy is responsible for a deprivation of rights protected by the
constitution." Since that 1978 decision, a number of courts have imposed liability on
police supervisors and municipalities that do not take care to guard against officer
misconduct and do not provide adequate training for their police officers (see City of
Canton, Ohio v. Harris 489 U.S. 378 (1989)). In an article by Professors Daane and
Hendricks titled "Liability for Failure to Adequately Train," they state, "Not only does
a good training program increase the effectiveness and safety of police officers, it
may also reduce the potential for liability of the officers, the supervisors and the
agency. This potential for liability may range from cases involving use of force and
deadly force, the failure to provide medical care, to those involving arrest
procedure."21 These authors further state, "it is imperative that police officers be
provided with excellent training; [and that] good police management through
training helps to reduce liable incidents for the officer, the chief and the
municipality." (See full article in Appendix F-1.)

Public Information. An area of policy that goes hand-in-hand with police


accountability and police-community relations is the law enforcement agency's
approach to release of public information. Clearly, the news media serve as a major
source of information about the police and their activities. As such, the media play a
key role in developing citizens' views of the police. Given this important function of
the media, it is difficult to understand why so many police agencies fail to develop a
public information policy and a relationship with the media based on mutual respect
and trust.

This is especially important in the area of police-community violence. Media


coverage of incidents involving the use of force is often the only information the
community has to form an opinion about the appropriateness of police action. There
is a tension between informing the public about an incident and getting the facts on
that incident. The department should have procedures for identifying who can make
public statements, along with procedures for verifying information before it is
released to the public.

Silence on certain aspects of the investigation may be viewed as stonewalling, when


in fact, the department simply does not have the information. The department that
explains why certain information is not yet available and makes assurances that,
when it does materialize, it will be disseminated to the extent permitted by law, will
be regarded as responsive to the community's concerns. In the absence of
information from official sources, the news media are forced to prepare the story
based on information gained only from bystanders and unofficial agency sources, an
approach that may result in less than accurate reporting of the incident. The stage
is then set for friction between the police and media. Misinformed community
members may also form erroneous perceptions of the police and their actions.

Police officials must provide sufficient information and detail to accurately explain
an incident. At the same time, they need to be careful not to jeopardize an
investigation or the department's position. This is a difficult expectation of the
police, but it is not impossible to deal with both needs. The task is much less
difficult with a clearly articulated public information policy. (See sample public
information policy in Appendix G-1.)

Racial Profiling and Bias-Based Policing. Law enforcement profiling is inappropriate


when race or some other sociological factor, such as gender, sexual orientation, or
religion is used as the sole criterion for taking law enforcement actions. Profiling
that singles out members of the community for no reason other than their race is
discriminatory and provides no legitimate basis for police action and has serious
consequences. "Whether intentional or unintentional, the application of bias in
policing tilts the scales of justice and results in unequal treatment under the law,"
writes Ronald L. Davis, the author of a study on bias-based policing for the National
Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).22 Allegations of racial
profiling and other bias-based policing activities, particularly traffic stops and
random searches, have become national issues, as the escalating coverage in the
media shows. There has also been legislative proposals at the state and national
level addressing racial profiling, along with lawsuits brought by civil rights
organizations and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Racial profiling erodes the necessary trust between law enforcement officials and
the communities they serve. There is also the collateral damage of police
recruitment of minorities being made more difficult and minorities becoming less
willing to participate in the criminal justice process. The use of objective factors
indicating potential criminal activity as a basis for making traffic stops may be a
legitimate and effective law enforcement tool. However, inappropriate profiling
impairs law enforcement's abilities. Furthermore, the use of race as the sole
criterion for making traffic stops is legally and morally wrong. Discriminatory traffic
stops divide communities and make police and prosecutors' jobs more difficult.

One way to address this issue is with a defined set of department values that are
the basis of the department's policies, and practices. Law enforcement officials have
to monitor and manage the discretion exercised by their officers to ensure their
actions are guided by values and principles that gives preeminence to the civil
rights of citizens.

As Davis writes in the NOBLE study:

Racial profiling imposes on the basic freedoms granted in a democratic society.


For many in the minority community, racial profiling is an old phenomenon with a
new name. A common response to racial profiling is the development of policies
that declare racial profiling illegal, limit officer discretion in the area of traffic stops,
and mandate training in cultural diversity.

These measures are a necessary first step, but alone they cannot reduce bias in
an organization. Symptoms will resurface and appear in other areas, such as
walking stops, the use of force, police misconduct, minority officer recruitment,
retention and promotion. Racial profiling is not the standalone problem; it is a
symptom of bias-based policing.23

Police departments and communities can avoid debilitating accusations of racial


profiling by communicating with each other about police strategy, crime trends, and
community concerns. In a response to the aftermath of the fatal shooting of
Amadou Diallo by New York City police in 1999, George Kelling writes:

Police increasingly rely on analysis of crime data, mapping and other methods
to develop tactics for addressing specific problems. When they discover that guns
are the primary instruments of murder in black neighborhoods, is it racial profiling
or smart policing to target anti-gun efforts there?
Resolutions to these issues are possible, but not easy. They involve balancing
individual rights with community interests, effectiveness with costs, and the
tradeoffs among important valuesPolice and neighborhood leaders will have to
seek each other out aggressively and honestly24

Hate Crimes and Hate Violence. Hate crime is a crime that is based in whole or in
part on the offender's animus towards the status of the victim. This perceived
"status" of the victim may be based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion,
sexual orientation, or disability. David N. Aspy and Cheryl Blalock Aspy write, based
on 1997 research from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, that "Hate crimes occur
when a hating person enters a climate that encourages the discharge of hate-driven
violence on certain targets."25 Victims of hate crimes feel vulnerable to more
attacks and develop feelings of alienation, helplessness, suspicion, and fear. A
defining feature of hate crime is that each offense victimizes not one person but a
group.26 When perpetrators of hate are not prosecuted as such and their acts are
not publicly condemned, their crimes can weaken even those communities with the
healthiest of race relations. Hate crimes can exacerbate community tensions that in
turn trigger community-wide racial conflict and civil disturbances. Based on its
experience with hundreds of hate crimes cases, CRS recommends that police can
initiate proactive measures before the fact such as taking actions to improve
communication between majority and minority groups by the establishment of a
human rights commission; establishing mechanisms to defuse rumors that may fuel
racial tensions and conflict; utilizing the media as a helpful ally; implementing
community policing and retaining police-community relations units in the transition
towards community policing.

The following are best practices for police departments to prevent hate crimes from
escalating racial and ethnic tensions into conflict or civil disturbances:

Strong Policy Statement (Internal and External). The department and community
must be clear about the police executive's position against hate crimes. Every
employee in the department must be held accountable for practicing and following
that philosophy. In some cases a local government ordinance against hate activity
modeled on existing hate crime law in effect in that State may form the basis for the
police executive's position and departmental policy.
Training (In-service and Academy Classes). Officers within the department and
trainees need to become aware of and educated about crimes motivated by
prejudice, how to respond to them, how to meet the needs of the victims, and how
to collect the proper evidence. Raising their awareness about these crimes makes it
more likely that they will show sensitivity and understanding when investigating
such cases. In addition, these officers will remember that hate crimes and
subsequent investigations will be taken seriously. Very often leaders from
communities targeted by hate crimes and others can be invited to be part of the
training effort.
Procedures.
-- Adoption of a model policy for investigating and reporting hate crimes, such
as one supported by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
-- Establishment of data collection procedures using uniform definitions of hate
crimes available through the FBI and reporting of the information collected (even
small numbers in a jurisdiction may be valuable for providing an aggregate regional
or national understanding of hate crimes).
-- Establishment of a racial-bias crime unit in large cities to investigate and
respond to such crimes.
-- Establishment of a civil rights office in smaller municipalities.
-- Establishment of a two-tier internal review process for all potential hate
crimes in accord with the FBI recommendation on bias crime incidents.
-- Pre-identification and training of community leaders to assist in the response
to hate crimes.
--Establishment of protocols and response procedures between law
enforcement, school, social service providers, and community leaders for
addressing hate crimes. (CRS has mediated hate crime response protocol
agreements that can serve as models for law enforcement agencies and
communities.)
--Collaboration with communities to build coalitions of political, business, civic,
religious, and community organizations to help create positive climate and foster
cooperation, inclusion of diverse groups in decision-making processes to increase
confidence in government, and working with schools to prevent and plan responses
to hate crimes on campuses.
-- Collaboration with a local human relations commission in community forums
on racial and ethnic relations to help encourage a positive community climate.
--Prosecution of hate crimes to encourage better reporting of these crimes,
ensuring their investigation, establishing hate crimes task forces, and assisting
victims and witnesses during the adjudication of their cases.
-- Collaboration with schools to prevent and deal with hate crimes and hate-
based gang activity in schools, including development of a plan to handle hate
crimes and defuse racial tensions. (CRS has helped some communities develop
memorandums of understanding between law enforcement, schools, and local
social and community service agencies who have a role in addressing school-related
hate crimes.)
-- Documentation of hate crimes and hate crime patterns through research on
the scope and impact of and solutions for hate crimes.
-- Establishment of a temporary rumor control and verification center
immediately following an incident. (A police department or municipal telephone can
be staffed by a diverse team 24 hours a day during the crisis period so as to help
reduce tensions or prevent escalating tensions which may lead to violence. Use the
media and community organizations to publicize the telephone number in the
affected community.)
Community Interventions. Community intervention activities are essential
following a hate or bias incident to address the needs of victims, community fear,
and racial tensions, as well as to prevent retaliation and to change the climate that
allowed hate to exist and to target specific groups. Law enforcement executives
need to act quickly and publicly to avoid perceptions of apathy and acceptance of
the hate crime. Useful steps include finding allies and collaborating with them on
activities to meet short-term issues and later establish long-term goals to address
diversity issues through community dialogues, annual diversity events, periodic
police-community forums, and police-community advisory groups.

Effective Police Leadership


Today, the policing function is viewed increasingly in terms of the "contractual"
relationship with the people. That is, given the high community impact of law
enforcement service delivery, such services should be based on community needs,
safety, concerns, and on relentless enforcement of the law against criminals, with
due consideration for the safety of officers. The contractual nature of this
relationship notwithstanding, frequently neither minority community expectations of
police conduct nor police expectations of support from the minority community
have been met. The result, of course, has too often been violent encounters
between citizens and the police. The seriousness of this situation, wherever it exists,
makes it imperative that the community and police initiate steps to reduce violence.

As in all matters involving how law enforcement is conducted, the role of top police
executives is key. Among a multitude of other duties, the police executive must
establish personal credibility with all segments of the community. The chief must
articulate law enforcement standards of conduct and make clear what behavior the
chief expects of the department's officers. The community should understand what
constitutes unprofessional conduct and, above all, must have a reasonable
understanding of procedures for investigating and adjudicating cases of use of
deadly force.

To reduce the potential for violence, police executives must inculcate the values
articulated by policy and procedure into two levels of the police department: the
administrative level and the "line" or operational level. To accomplish the task of
value-transition on one level without doing so on the other is futile, for no change in
police behavior will result. In addition to the two levels of the organization which the
police executive must address, two dimensions of law enforcement must also be
addressed: the police "culture" and various community cultures. Thus, to effect
change in the police-community violence, police executives must take a
multidimensional approach. Traditional approaches to reform have been one-
dimensional, and have met with little success.

The necessity for multidimensional leadership exists for several reasons. Consider,
for example, the police executive who develops the "ideal" use-of-force policy, and
who develops a strong system of "internal audit" and reporting to ensure that
violations are identified and addressed. This executive has created an
administrative response to the violence problem. However, he or she has not
addressed the operational-level aspects that influence the use of force by law
enforcement officers: training, peer-group pressure, informal leadership, initial
socialization, and role of the union, if any.

Nor has the executive addressed the external factors that impact use of force: the
community's level of confidence in the department; prior use-of-force incidents; the
existence of a healthy police-community partnership; community norms; media
treatment of use of force; sanctions against use of force by local courts,
prosecutors, and other official agencies; and community tolerance levels for
violence.

Policy developed by the police executive that does not take into account external
factors is likely to fail. The administrative functions of policy, procedure, audit,
review, and sanction will most probably be offset by operational-level attitudes,
beliefs, and informal social structures that tell the line officer that it's "better to face
an internal affairs investigation than to have your family confronted by the
undertaker." This police executive will most likely find that his or her administrative
efforts will fail in the face of what appears to be an overwhelming "subculture"
among line personnel and community members. The policies, procedures, and
administrative infrastructure will fail, not because they were inherently "bad," but
because they were not integrated at the operational level to combat police-
community violence.

The police executive who desires to affect the cycle of police-community violence
must focus on at least four functions which offer the potential of creating change.
All four of these functions are amenable to change through effective police
leadership, and all four combine to aid the chief executive in developing a
multidimensional approach to police-community violence. These four functions are:

The socialization process of police officers


The administrative mechanisms designed to impact on the operation of the police
department
Positive and negative reinforcement of police officers
The education of the community and the news media

The Socialization of Police Officers

The socialization process for patrol officers has been well documented in the
literature--as discussed elsewhere in this publication. Police officers tend to become
the kind of police officers they are socialized to be. The two most important
components of the socialization process--and thus the process of leadership--are
formal training and informal "peer group" indoctrination of the young officer.

The field training officer (FTO), field training program, and formal classroom training
form the cornerstone of the young officer's operational personality. The acquisition
of acceptable operational traits and the inculcation of "preferred" organizational
values during this period will last for years under the tutelage of effective
leadership. The acquisition of "bad habits" can be avoided through a carefully
designed socialization process that is implemented by handpicked personnel at the
training academy and in field orientation experiences.

The field training officer is all important to the success of a department's training
program as the FTO is the first person in authority who will orient a new officer to
the job environment. These officers must be:

role models and actually represent the explicit values of the organization.
Otherwise, a situation of conflicting behavioral expectations may occur during the
training of new police officersManagers must be aware that the values of police
officers are directly related to the concept of the hidden curriculum since values
significantly influence organizational performance and community perceptions.
Therefore, a manager can use the selectionof FTO as a proactive method for
developing a work environment that promotes organizational goals and objectives
in Field Training Programs.
The progressive leader can use the influence of the FTOs to build positive work
environments by being aware that the influences of mentors and the need to be
accepted are powerful factors in the training of new officers. When there is
consistency between explicit and implicit organizational values, explicit job-related
behavioral expectations are continually reinforced throughout the training program,
creating a conducive learning environment for new officers. Accordingly, leaders
that set forth explicit behavioral expectations through the development of a "value-
congruent" training program have the potential to significantly improve
organizational performance.27

There are several questions the police executive may ask which will help to gauge
the effectiveness of a department's leadership in the area of socialization. While the
following are generic questions, they will help identify areas that need
improvement:

Do FTOs demonstrate conformance to the department's values?


What type of officer is routinely appointed as a field training officer for police
cadets, those with a high tolerance for violence or those with a low tolerance for
violence?
Are officers routinely appointed as FTOs for police cadets "negotiators" or
"confrontationalists"?
Are FTOs trained in methods of referral, negotiation, problem resolution, and
other "alternative" police responses?
Are FTOs routinely encouraged to attend public forums, neighborhood meetings,
task forces, and other "formal" group processes involving the community?
Do FTOs receive informal as well as formal rewards for their services to the
organization?
Does the formal training process include classroom time devoted to community
relations, problem resolution, negotiation, and alternative police response? Is it
ongoing?
Which receives greater emphasis in the training curriculum, self-defense and
firearms instruction or group and interpersonal interaction skills?

The chief executive's answers to these questions will aid in identifying areas which
should be addressed concerning the socialization of new police officers. Once the
desired socialization of police officers is attained, it is a role of leadership to
continue to refine this socialization.
Administrative Mechanisms to Impact Department Operations

Administrative mechanisms are probably the most commonly used leadership tool
for managing police-community violence. The process of effective leadership here
involves first determining the values which must be proffered by departmental
policy. This is followed by the development of procedures, rules, and regulations
which reflect those values including establishing internal audit, review, and sanction
processes to enforce compliance; and "interfacing" with the community to reduce
the use "violent" solutions to problems. There are several questions the police
executive should ask to determine the extent to which administrative mechanisms
about police use of force are in place:
Has the department appropriately integrated the organization's values into its
use-of-force policy and then, through leadership, required adherence to both?
Does the department have written procedures, rules, and regulations which
implement these policies and values?
Does the department have formal internal review, audit, and monitoring
processes to ensure that these procedures, rules, and regulations are followed?
Does the department have a formal process to advise the community on the
functioning of the audit, review, and monitoring processes?

Guidance Through Positive and Negative Reinforcement

Effective leadership has its most conventional impact in the area of positive and
negative reinforcement of police officers. Contrary to some beliefs, negative
reinforcement is not "punishment." This term refers to the removal of unpleasant
stimuli from one's environment. Positive reinforcement, of course, refers to the
provision of rewards for behavior that is desirable. The chief executive should ask
several questions to help assess how effectively department leadership uses
reinforcement to foster nonviolent behavior:

Which officers routinely receive the most sought after special assignments in the
department: those known for their confrontational style or those known for their
mediation skills?
For what type of activities are officers most frequently commended by the
department--avoiding the use of force while achieving the department's aims, or
using force to effect the arrest of criminals?
When was the last time the department recognized, formally or informally, an
officer for avoiding the use of force?
Does the performance evaluation system recognize and reward an officer for his
or her ability to avoid the use of force?
Does your department recognize force avoidance by officers as a matter of
policy?

The chief executive's answers to these questions will aid in identifying areas that
need to be addressed concerning the positive and negative reinforcement of officer
behavior. It is the role of leadership to continue to refine the positive socialization
initially imparted to police personnel. This is accomplished through selecting
appropriate positive and negative reinforcement for personnel who behave in ways
which foster nonviolent problem resolution.
Community Education

Another way for the police executive to establish effective leadership in the realm of
police-community violence is to educate the community in the expectations they
should have of the department and the expectations the department has of the
community. This function addresses the "community cultures" dimension of
effective leadership. No matter what the internal functions of effective leadership
within the department, positive change in the police-community violence cycles will
occur more easily if the community is involved in the change process. Police-
community partnerships and the engagement of the community in solving problems
of violence enhance police effectiveness.
There are several questions the law enforcement executive can ask to determine
the extent the community is likely to be involved in helping retard the police-
community violence cycle. These questions are based on the premise that the
police and the community share ownership, responsibility, and accountability for
reducing these incidents of violence:

What programs does the department have that assist officers in understanding
community attitudes towards police use of force?
What programs does the department have that assist officers and the community
to reduce incidents of police-community violence?
Do all officers engage in interactive meetings with community groups and
leaders?
Does each officer consider himself or herself responsible for building police-
community trust?
Are there existing mechanisms for "taking the pulse" of the community on key
issues involving police-community violence?
Does the department periodically schedule formal meetings with community
groups and leaders to review the issue of police-community violence?
Do all the parties involved in reducing police-community violence (police, courts,
probation, prosecutors, schools, and the community) meet regularly to review
strategy and results?

These questions help the executive identify areas or concerns that should be
addressed in managing the police-community partnership. The extent to which this
connection is well managed will, to some extent, dictate the degree of success the
police executive can expect.

In summary, the "effective leadership" of a police organization's attempt to control


the police-community violence cycle cannot be accomplished by a one-dimensional
approach to the problem. A leadership plan which focuses merely on one aspect of
the problem is most likely a plan that will not achieve its objectives. What is
required is a multidimensional approach which focuses on both internal and external
factors, an approach which addresses operational problems as well as
administrative processes, and which addresses the need for change within the
informal leadership of the department as well as the need for change within the
community.

Through the development of an "interactive" model of professionalism which


focuses on the four stated areas of change within the department and its
environment, police executives can develop the effective leadership necessary to
have an impact on the cycle of police-community violence. Until an approach is
developed that is multidimensional, interactive, and fully supported by the chief
executive, reliance on the "leadership model" to reduce the police use of force will
bear little fruit.
Procedures for Effective Policing

A police department's procedures--what it actually practices--are, of course, a


fundamental element in determining relationships with the community. Even the
most positive values will be of little use unless they are reflected in the performance
of officers on the street. Thus, the need to reduce police-citizen violence will not be
met solely by adopting a set of values. Practices must be implemented which
demonstrate an enlightened, practical approach to policing. Within that context,
there are a number of important considerations.
Principles of Community Policing

Community policing is a policing approach embraced by some departments and


espoused by national law enforcement organizations. It is described as a
philosophy, managerial style, and organizational strategy that promotes better
police-community partnerships and more proactive problem solving with the
community. It can help solve a wide range of community problems and issues
involving crime control, crime prevention, officer safety, and the fear of crime.

Community policing is referred to by several names, most commonly as community-


oriented policing, problem-oriented policing, community problem solving,
neighborhood policing, and problem-based policing. Community policing is based on
collaboration between police and citizens in a nonthreatening and cooperative
spirit. It requires that police listen to citizens, take seriously how citizens perceive
problems and issues, and seek to solve problems which have been identified. "A
fundamental assumption of the community policing approach is that the community
is more likely than the police to recognize and understand its public safety needs,"
states researchers Vincent J. Webb and Charles M. Katz.28 Effective community
policing can result in enhanced quality of life in neighborhoods, reduction of fear of
crime, greater respect for law and order, increased crime control and crime
prevention, and greater citizen satisfaction with police services.

While community policing continues to evolve, current research shows that it results
in improved safety for both residents and police, neighborhood revitalization,
positive neighborhood and police morale and confidence, heightened confidence in
government institutions, including police, and improved race relations. Community
policing has been shown to decrease actual criminal activity29 and reduced fear of
crime. As one resident of Chicago said, "When you have a sense of camaraderie and
cooperation between beat officers and community residents you lose the sense of
fear."30 However, law enforcement executives should be aware that "community
perceptions of the potential effectiveness of community policing may determine
how residents rate the importance of community policing activities carried out by
the police," according to Webb and Katz. In fact, they state some community
policing activities may be viewed as unimportant to the community, while others,
such as investigations of drug and gang-related activities, may have broad
community support. Reports on public support for community policing has been
generally favorable. "In general, the findings show that 'preventative' community
policing activities, or those usually considered as having an indirect effect on crime,
are regarded by the community as being less important than 'enforcement'
activities, or policing activities thought of as having a more direct effect on
crime."31 Police executives may need to explain to communities that community
policing programs--like all other policing programs--are enforcement oriented. The
difference with community policing programs is an intentional focus on community
interaction with the department

In Madison, Wisconsin, police officers and community volunteers conducted surveys


of police activities and police efforts to resolve neighborhood problems. The
Madison Police Department found that "as the officers completed the questionnaire
with the participants, the respondents gave information to the officers about the
quality of life and social order issues whereas the other volunteers who were not
officers, those issues rarely emerged." In the Madison interviews, participants
reported a wide variety of concerns to police officers:

a greater concern that children would be hurt while playing in their


neighborhood; less satisfaction with their neighborhood as a place to live; parking,
public drinking and intoxication, gang activity and graffiti as more of a problem;
drug sales, drug usage, drug addiction, possession of guns and weapons, violence,
fighting and assaults all to be more of a problem; more negative assessments of the
effectiveness of rental property owners and managers in dealing with neighborhood
problems, and of the extent to which residents were organized and committed to
improving neighborhood conditions.32

Community policing represents a continuation of the established traditions of


policing in the United States. It flows from three values discussed in the section of
this publication on values:

The police department believes that the prevention of crimes is its number one
priority.
The police department involves the community in the delivery of its services.
The police department holds itself accountable to the community it serves.

The 10 underlying principles of community policing are:

Crime prevention is the responsibility of the total community.


The police and the community share ownership, responsibility, and accountability
for the prevention of crime.
Police effectiveness is a function of crime control, crime prevention, problem
solving, community satisfaction, quality of life, and community engagement.
Mutual trust between the police and the community is essential for effective
policing.
Crime prevention must be a flexible, long-term strategy in which the police and
community collectively commit to resolving the complex and chronic causes of
crime.
Community policing requires knowledge, access, and mobilization of community
resources.
Community policing can only succeed when top management police and
government officials enthusiastically support its principles and tenets.
Community policing depends on decentralized, community-based participation in
decision-making.
Community policing allocates resources and services, based on analysis,
identification, and projection of patterns and trends, rather than incidents.
Community policing requires an investment in training with special attention to
problem analysis and problem solving, facilitation, community organization;
communication, mediation and conflict resolution, resource identification and use,
networking and linkages, and cross-cultural competency.33

Police-Community Partnership
Improving a police department's image in the community takes more than just
concern or wishful thinking. For the police to be truly effective in a changing,
complex society, they must recognize that it is in their own self-interest to
administer a department that is competent, fair, honest, and responsive to the
needs of the individual citizen. The police department must establish an effective
partnership with the community as a whole, the foundation of which is mutual trust
and understanding. Police organizations must realize that they have the ability to
alter their own image within the community.

A well-developed community relations effort should be the product of careful


construction, designed by the police and the public together, and should not be the
result of an emotional reaction to a temporary crisis in the community. The
fundamental tenet of any successful police-community relations effort must
necessarily involve an open channel of communication between the police and the
public. Once established, a communications vehicle should be further developed to
ensure that the channel remains open.

Police departments must be sensitive to the fact that virtually every phase of their
operations has an eventual impact on the community, which translates into an
individual citizen's assessment of a department's effectiveness. Token or artificial
efforts towards enhancing public image will quickly be recognized as an insincere
gesture, which can only invite public ridicule and repudiation.

Training must also be in place to ensure that all officers veteran and recruit alike--
continuously maintain an understanding of, and a sensitivity to, the social and
human relations problems that surface within the community. Police departments
should adopt a community-oriented attitude in every facet of their operations. The
public must be convinced that the department's concern for community relations is
not just a priority for administrators or community relations officers, but a serious
concern that has the commitment of each officer.
Using Community Resources

Defining the police role within a community should not be solely the responsibility of
a law enforcement agency. The entire community, represented by traditional and
nontraditional agencies and groups alike, should be called upon to identify local
concerns that fall within the purview of the police department. Suggestions should
be carefully weighed and freely debated in an atmosphere which recognizes that no
single element or agency has exclusive jurisdiction or authority for determining
what the posture or reaction should be towards problems that have impact on the
entire community.

Within every community there are business and professional groups, social service
agencies, religious and civic organizations, and non-law enforcement city agencies,
all of which are potential resources for dealing with many of the problems that
confront the police. Such organizations have repeatedly demonstrated their
willingness to donate time and effort in support of programs that improve the
quality of life in a community. An effective police executive researches the
community and develops a "resource bank" of organizations willing to donate time
and effort in support of police initiatives to improve services to the community.

The assistance and interaction that these groups afford can be of great benefit in
offering cultural, language, direct service, and training opportunities for police
officers. In an era of tight fiscal control and dwindling budgets, these organizations
can help law enforcement agencies develop specialized programs that address
current and future needs. The police and community groups should establish areas
of mutual concern, analyze points of disagreement that call for resolution, and reach
a consensus on how all parties concerned can work together effectively in crisis
situations. CRS can provide technical assistance in implementing meetings with the
community to build a partnership with the community.
Police Accessibility

A police department's effectiveness in making itself accessible to the community


will invariably depend on whether there is a plan or program to promote and
enhance involvement with citizens. Whether the purpose is to inform citizens about
police initiatives, to inform them about general police department progress or
conditions, to secure their input in a specific area, or to discuss effectiveness of the
department and its personnel, most police executives depend on three basic
avenues. They are: direct dialogue with citizens and representatives of
organizations, use of the news media, and communication of selected information
through various means, including speeches and assignments to designated
personnel. At the same time, all department personnel and all means of
communication should be focused on making the department "approachable" to
citizens.

The most common standard for measuring a department's effectiveness with


respect to accessibility is the number and attitude of citizens who freely approach
the department to make inquiries, complain, or volunteer their assistance. If the
attitude of citizens demonstrates confidence in the department and pride in
performing a civic function, it can be surmised that a substantial level of
departmental accessibility has been achieved. On the other hand, if citizen contacts
or encounters with the police are characterized mostly by a mixture of fear, rancor,
and general distrust, then the police executive and the department's personnel
have a lot of hard work ahead of them.
Managing Potentially Violent Circumstances

Each day, police officers are called upon to handle a wide variety of situations, any
one of which potentially might result in an officer or citizen suffering serious bodily
injury or death. Although no two situations will be exactly the same, police have
encountered the vast majority of different kinds of circumstances before. Therefore,
most response situations lend themselves to prior analysis and review. Whether the
police are called upon to handle a violent domestic dispute, a barricaded subject
with hostages, a major civil disturbance, or other situations, departmental
procedures can be drafted to provide the individual police officer with direction that
will reduce the chances of unwarranted violence. Care should be exerted to ensure
that written directives on most response situations are carefully developed,
regularly updated, and constantly reviewed by every member of the organization.
Along with written directives, another major component of a police department's
efforts to manage circumstances is its commitment to in-service training and
development. While many organizations rightfully place a premium on the value of
recruit training, they are sometimes less attentive to providing a systematic
program of in-service training for veteran officers. Although departments may be
powerless to control the level of violence that officers face in every situation, they
should recognize that a carefully designed program of in service training is of
fundamental importance to avoiding police-citizen violence and ensuring officer
safety. Many police contacts with citizens or suspects have the potential for
violence, as emphasized elsewhere in this publication, but a well-trained officer is
the first line of defense in reducing the risk of serious injury or death.
A Conflict Management Approach

There is no magic formula or step-by-step guide that can ensure the maintenance of
an orderly community. Every community has unique characteristics, and conflict
resolution requires a knowledge of the intricacies of the community, its problems,
concerns and priorities. A problem for the police is the recognition that many of the
factors that contribute to community tensions and delinquency, such as poverty,
unemployment, and the lack of education, cannot be addressed directly by the
police. In spite of this, the police should be attuned to the concerns and changing
priorities of their communities, and be willing to offer assistance in identifying and
resolving sources of conflict that have a debilitating effect on the community.

One course of action police administrators should consider is developing a conflict


management program. The primary purpose of such a program would be to serve
as an alert system for tension-breeding incidents that are police related and which
could create conflict and disharmony in the community. A conflict management
program would include: continuous assessment of community tension, regularly
planned outreach to the diverse communities and their leaders, department plans
and procedures outlining the response to potentially violent situations with special
emphasis on the continuum in use of force, and training of officers in conflict
resolution skills and mediation. When the program is functioning effectively, the
results should provide police leadership with more in-depth and timely information
that will broaden communication with all parties concerned, contributing to the
maintenance of order in the community.

In order for a program to function effectively, training in conflict management and


resolution should be extended to all persons, police and civilian alike, who have
expressed a willingness to become involved in such an experiment. Such an
undertaking should be a first step in looking beyond the traditional methods of
arriving at conflict resolution and may serve as the impetus for developing other
more innovative approaches. In forming a conflict management program, police
departments should recruit representatives from all segments of the community.
Such a selection procedure would provide for a broad cross-section of viewpoints
and capabilities which, in the end, can only serve to maximize the effectiveness of
the program.
Negotiation Versus Confrontation

When the police are called to the scene of a potentially life-threatening situation,
more often than not a confrontation not of their making confronts them. In the initial
moments, the person or persons responsible for instigating the confrontation may
appear to be in control. But as sufficient numbers of officers arrive, the inevitable
decision on using force to end the confrontation is brought up for consideration.
While no two situations are exactly alike, the merits of negotiation, mediation, and
conflict resolution should be given their due. Police who employ force as an
immediate response to a crisis situation are frequently labeled as reactionary--as
opposed to being recognized as the power in control of the situation. In most
instances, police departments that elect to employ mediation and conflict resolution
and other communication skills instead of force are generally credited with reducing
the level of tension.

Negotiation in a crisis situation generally affords the police an opportunity to


carefully formulate a well-constructed response. Additional time also facilitates the
strategic placement of key personnel, who by then will be in full possession of
virtually all of the resources which appear necessary to bring about a successful
conclusion of the situation. In the final analysis, if all attempts at talking fail and the
time for negotiating comes to an end, the police will be able to demonstrate that
they legitimately attempted to use reason instead of force, and only altered their
course of action when no other alternative reasonably existed.

Expert skills at negotiating, mediation, and conflict resolution are not natural talents
that are automatically acquired by each new officer who enters the field of law
enforcement. Departments should ensure that classes in negotiating, mediation and
conflict resolution are contained within the curriculum of their in-service training
and development programs. Recognizing that the decision to negotiate--as opposed
to resorting to force--will not always be a viable option, the police department
should at least indicate its preference for negotiation whenever possible.
Areas of Special Concern

To understand the causes, and to reduce the incidence of violent encounters


between the police and citizens, it is necessary to identify situations that have
demonstrated a high potential for violence. Unfortunately, data on police use-of-
force situations are not collected on a national scale, and the research has been
primarily confined to the use of firearms. However, through an empirical approach,
it is possible to establish areas of police-community interaction that are of particular
concern because of the friction which results. Some of those areas are discussed
below, along with suggestions of guidance police agencies may consider providing
to their officers. It should be emphasized that the list is not intended as
comprehensive.

Use of Deadly Force. Of all the decisions a police officer is called upon to make,
none has greater impact than the decision to use deadly force. Police in this country
have been given the legal right to use force, up to and including deadly force, in
order to maintain peace and order. Officers are often required to make that decision
under highly stressful, split-second circumstances which leave little margin for error.
The use of such force is justified in only the most extreme circumstances. The
obvious reason for this severe limitation is the high potential for serious injury or
death to the officer and other persons, innocent and guilty alike.
A 1999 Bureau of Justice Statistics study34 estimated that police in the United
States make nearly 45 million face-to-face contacts with citizens a year. Only 1
percent of the citizens report being subjected to threat or use of force by police and
the majority of cases involve levels of force at the lower end of the use-of-force
continuum.

Recognizing that less-than-lethal force may still result in injury and community
unrest, officers need to exercise discretion in the application of force in those
situations as well. Establishing criteria for a continuum of force will enable officers
to adjust their use of force to the seriousness of a perceived life-threatening
situation. An example of such a continuum is the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Model:
officer presence, verbal direction, soft empty hand, oleoresin capsicum, hard empty
hand, intermediate weapons, and lethal force. In addition, officers who are skilled in
conflict resolution and persuasion may find ways to avoid higher levels of
confrontation altogether. To determine the most appropriate policies on use of force
for a given department and community, the department may benefit from a
comprehensive review and analysis of each use-of-force incident. Such a review
may help officers discern patterns in the incidents or officer behaviors that have
important implications for the development of policies that reduce use-of-force
incidents.

While police use of deadly force is a rare occurrence, its impact can be felt
throughout the community and undermines public confidence in the police. Aside
from the ethical and moral ramifications of taking another's life, or leaving them
perhaps permanently disabled, a police officer also faces the prospect of being held
criminally liable if deadly force was improperly employed. People in today's litigious
society will frequently challenge the officer's decision to use deadly force in a civil
court as well. For all of these reasons, it is absolutely imperative that officers
thoroughly understand their responsibilities, rights, and limitations regarding the
use of deadly force.

From the police department's perspective, a high standard of ongoing specialized


training is essential in minimizing the risk that every officer faces in deciding to use
deadly force in a particular situation. Such a training effort, which has traditionally
concentrated on skills relating to firearms proficiency, should also address the
various implications that are attached to an officer's decision to use deadly force.
Police agencies also have a special and fundamental responsibility to carefully
formulate written policies on the use of deadly force which are clear and can be
understood by every member of the organization.

When an incident of deadly force occurs, especially one involving the loss of life of a
person of color, and when there is a perception of excessive use of force, civil
disorder or unrest is possible. The incident itself, and the events that follow, form a
continuum of potential flash points or triggering incidents that may lead to civil
unrest or disorder. These flash points include:

The incident itself


The investigation of the incident
The community reaction to the incident
The announcement of the result of the investigation
The announcement of procedural court decision(s), sentencing, or jury verdicts
New incidents involving police or grievances

There are several variables that influence the reaction to an incident by the public,
especially an affected community of color or tight-knit ethnic community. Among
the factors impacting the level of public discontent and anger are:

Pre-existing conditions--the overall quality of race relations in the community,


especially police-community relations
Nature of the incident itself--the type and nature of force used, especially if it was
deadly force or was excessively brutal by community standards
The circumstances surrounding the incident, including the age and mental
condition of the victim and the reaction of witnesses
Concurrent police action--the actions of the other police officers at the scene and
the actions taken, or statements made by officers and the police chief
Media reporting of the incident
City leadership actions--what the mayor and other community leaders say or do
Initial community response--whether there is an immediate community reaction
and escalating racial tensions

The CRS publication, Responding to Incidents Involving Allegations of Excessive Use


of Force: A Checklist to Guide Police Executives, which appears as a boxed exhibit
on the following pages, can be used as a reference by law enforcement executives
dealing with use-of-force incidents.

Arrest Situations. More officers lose their lives in arrest situations than in any other
circumstance. "From 1992 through 2001, 34.4 percent of the victim officers were
involved in arrest situations when slain," according to the FBI.35 Most of the police
use-of-force situations would more than likely fall under the general category of
resisting arrest. However, this area is the source of much controversy. The
circumstances surrounding arrests have been the cause of major, recent police-
minority group clashes in particular.

For most people, an arrest is an extremely stressful experience. And it can cause
reactions that are highly unusual and out of character for the individual. For some,
an arrest is viewed as a complete loss of freedom, and their resistance may include
the use of firearms, which dramatically increases the possibility of a police officer
using force. Unfortunately, the data available does not identify specific types of
arrest situations as being more likely to result in use of force by or against an
officer.

Studies over the years, however, have provided an indication that some officers are
more likely to use force in effecting arrests than others. Therefore, it appears an
effort is needed to identify arrest situations where force is used and to determine if
there are common factors present. If there is an indication that certain officers or
situations result in force being used by or against officers, then approaches can be
developed for dealing with those specific circumstances.

Responding to Disturbance Calls. Response to disturbance calls continues to be an


area where police officers are exposed to potential assault and loss of life. While
some express surprise at this, disturbance situations present clear dilemmas to
police officers who must deal with them. They must intervene in disagreements
between two or more parties, knowing little about the conflict, and often having
very little real authority to address the underlying problems--unless one party has
committed an offense. Moreover, the parties involved in the conflict generally have
an expectation that the police should side with them since they believe they are
right. It is also not unusual for officers to end up in a position where both sides of
the conflict direct their wrath at them, if it becomes necessary to make an arrest.
These are the situations that result in force being used by and against the officer.
Such situations are all the more volatile when officers are dealing with minority
persons.

Over the past 25 years, greater attention has been devoted to enhancing the skills
of police officers in this area. In the more progressive police departments, time has
been allocated in recruitment and in service training--to developing a better
understanding of all types of conflict situations--with the emphasis on family or
domestic violence. With that improved understanding of conflict management this
provides, officers are able to handle more of the disturbance calls, in a manner that
avoids use of force and minimizes their own exposure to assault. All training must
focus on certain major factors in officer assaults: the officer's demeanor, attitude,
and lack of skill in using proven psychological techniques to control the behavior of
enraged disputants. Officers must have an opportunity to identify, analyze, and
openly discuss these factors.

In addition to training officers in conflict management, a greater focus has been


placed on developing written policies and procedures. These not only provide
guidance in the use of discretion, they set forth concepts such as the need to have
at least two officers respond to disturbance calls. They provide the officers with
alternatives to arrest and to resolve problems. They also enable officers to use
alternative resources, such as spouse abuse shelters to aide in responding to the
situations. The combination of training and written guidelines helps increase the
level of confidence an officer has in handling domestic situations. This minimizes
the potential for resorting to force to settle the situation--which may not fit the
problem that caused the disturbance in the first place.

Traffic Stops and Pursuits. Police officers make thousands of traffic stops daily. Like
other human beings, they have a tendency to become complacent when performing
tasks that become routine. These circumstances create an environment where basic
procedural mistakes are made that may result in the officer being assaulted or using
force to resolve a problem that could have been avoided. The dilemma faced by
police administrators lies in ensuring that officers avoid mistakes without
introducing a level of fear that causes officers to overreact to nonthreatening
situations.

While policies, procedures, and periodic refresher training are helpful, the resolution
of this problem rests with the officers themselves and first-line supervisors. The day-
to-day environment must be one that reinforces adherence to basic procedures. The
environment also needs to reflect a value system which views using force as the
least-preferred method of problem resolution. The establishment of that
environment, as observed elsewhere, begins at the top of the organization.
However, to be effective, line officers and their supervisors must accept that value.

Police pursuit situations have drawn considerable attention in recent years because
of well-publicized civil judgments against local jurisdictions for negligence. This has
caused many police departments to examine and begin to adjust their policies
towards participating in high-speed chases. In addition to the potential for serious
injury or death and substantial property damage, these situations often end with the
pursued individual being subdued by force. Emotions run high in pursuit situations
because of their inherent dangers. Both officer and suspect may engage in conduct
that would not occur under normal circumstances.

The pursuit situation is very difficult for police administrators to address, and, in
some cases, produces "lose-lose" conditions. Many believe a "no-pursuit" policy
would lead to more individuals taking a chance on eluding an officer. At the same
time, a no-pursuit policy will not necessarily limit the department's liability--because
some of these cases may produce a failure-to-protect dilemma.

Therefore, policies must be developed that guide officer discretion. One provision
that often appears in departments' pursuit policies requires that officers suspend
the chase, when it reaches the point of creating a greater problem than the initial
reason for beginning the pursuit. For maximum impact, this type of statement
should be supplemented with real examples of its application, and should be
reinforced, even in those times when a pursuit situation does not result in a crash.

Investigating Suspicious Persons. Over the years, the concept of "suspicious person"
has become less clearly defined as the individual right of freedom of movement has
been reinforced. At one time, "suspicious" could mean merely encountering an
individual of one race in a neighborhood populated by members of another race, at
any time of the day. That evolved to a late-night situation and eventually to a
requirement that other circumstances be present. The difficulty in the inability to
clearly define and articulate "suspicious" is that it creates the perception of
harassment on the part of the individual stopped and questioned. Obviously, this
can quickly result in friction between officer and citizen, with the citizen resisting an
arrest that is likely to be borderline at best.

Unfortunately, much of the formal police training in this area does not adequately
prepare an officer to deal with the ambiguities involved--which may result in
responses at one extreme or the other. Either the police department is overly
aggressive and develops a hostile relationship with one group of citizens, or it is not
aggressive enough, and gives the impression of ambivalence or laziness. As in other
areas, practical guidelines for the use of discretion need to be prepared,
disseminated, and reinforced in daily operations. These guidelines have to balance
the individual's right to freedom of movement with the need of the community to be
free from crime.

Handling, Custody, and Transportation of Prisoners. Police handling of individuals in


custody results in a higher level of assault and fatalities than one might expect--
given the presumption of police control in these circumstances. However, problems
do occur, and experience shows that many times officers are assaulted and
suspects injured during the booking process. In fact, injuries and deaths suffered by
minorities, already in police custody, have prompted a number of serious police-
community conflicts in recent years.

Studies in Baltimore County, Maryland, and Newport News, Virginia, to cite just two
examples, have shown that a significant number of altercations occur in the
environment where booking takes place. Although the reasons for this are not
immediately clear, separation of the arresting officer and the suspect seems to
result in fewer incidents. Available data does not distinguish the proportion of such
incidents relating particularly to transportation. Nevertheless, an evaluation of
procedures and reinforcement of sound ones would contribute to a reduction of
conflict.

Handling People with Mental Impairment. The treatment of mental illness has
undergone radical revision in recent years. Where in-hospital treatment and
confinement was once the norm, the emphasis has now shifted to out-patient and
community-based programs as an approach towards recovery. As more and more
people with special needs are returned to their respective communities, it becomes
more important than ever for the police to develop a general familiarization with
recommended approaches towards handing the mentally ill. Police departments
must make a concerted effort to identify local resources that offer special services
in the field of mental illness. They should also extend an invitation to area health
professionals to participate in a program of in-service training for the benefit of
those police officers who are most likely to confront citizens with one or more forms
of mental illness.

The goal of such an effort is not to transform the police officer into a diagnostician
or professional psychiatrist, but to provide the officer with a special understanding
of, and empathy for, the problems of the mentally ill. Channels of communication
between the police, the mental health professionals, and local treatment centers
should be constantly utilized and upgraded when necessary.

The police should also recognize that not all forms of mental illness are permanent,
nor are they completely debilitating. Some of the people an officer encounters may,
on the surface, appear to be functioning with some degree of normalcy, but may
still be under enormous pressure or stress that is not readily discernible or
articulated. Separating and identifying the person who is affected by mental illness
from the person who is simply engaged in antisocial or criminal behavior requires a
special degree of skill and experience. It is imperative that officers be provided with
the necessary level of training that can elevate them to that special degree of skill,
or that arrangements be made so that the services of mental health professionals
are readily available to officers in crisis situations.

As most law enforcement professionals know, the results of police encounters with
the mentally impaired have led to major police-community confrontations in a
number of cities. Fortunately, however, the seriousness of this problem has been
recognized, and innovative approaches to it are being developed. For example, in
April 1986, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) issued guidelines to help
police departments handle encounters with the mentally impaired. The report
resulted from an 18-month study funded by the National Institute of Justice and the
Community Trust.36

The PERF report also describes creative models used by three police departments:
Madison, Wisconsin; Birmingham, Alabama; and Galveston County, Texas. While
these programs illustrate markedly different approaches, they may be helpful to
police departments trying to improve their own handling of the mentally impaired.
In Madison, handling calls involving the mentally ill is the responsibility of regular
patrol officers, who receive over 20 hours of mental health training. In addition,
officers can confer with the county's 24-hour emergency mental health center
before attempting to handle difficult cases. The Galveston County Sheriffs
Department uses a unit of six specially trained deputies to respond to all mental
health calls, thereby relieving regular deputies of this responsibility. The
Birmingham Police Department relies on a community service unit consisting of
social workers who come to the scene of an encounter to assist officers in reaching
a disposition of the situation.

The City of Portland and Multnomah County, Oregon, have also experienced several
recent clashes between police and the community over police handling of mentally
impaired persons. Believing that the necessity for police intervention was, in many
instances, a manifestation of mentally ill persons "falling through the cracks,"
Portland and Multnomah County established a task force to develop a coordinated
plan of action involving all pertinent city and county agencies. A letter of agreement
indicating the responsibilities of these agencies has been included in the
appendices.

Hostage/Barricade Situations. In recent years, most medium-to-large police


agencies have developed teams of officers to respond to hostage/barricade
encounters. These teams usually include negotiators and have established
objectives of dealing with these situations without injury to anyone involved.
Unfortunately, however, that is not always the result, and when the person or
persons involved are members of a minority group, any force used is likely to be
more controversial because of the general belief that the police practice a double
standard. The tragic encounter between Philadelphia police and the MOVE group in
1985 is a case in point, and there are other, less well-publicized incidents that also
racially polarized communities.

Most police hostage/barricade teams conduct frequent training and hold debriefing
sessions at the conclusion of an operation. These teams have made significant
contributions towards reducing the amount and degree of force used by the police
in addressing these problems. Agencies that have not established this capability
should do so if resources permit. If not, the capability could be developed by
combining resources or through agreements with other municipal, county, or state
agencies.

Drugs and Gangs. One of the major areas of concern in policing is the violence that
surrounds drug and gang activity. The increased number of handguns and other
firepower, the role of organized criminals and youth gangs, and the amount of
money involved in this activity have torn apart communities--created divisions
within communities and between police and communities, particularly communities
of color. Homicide rates, especially among minority youth, have also escalated.

Pressures and demands from different segments of the community have led to calls
for aggressive policing, even if it entails the violation of individuals' rights. Field
practices that violate accepted police practices and procedures are too often
condoned in the name of expediency or pressure for immediate results. This issue
represents a significant challenge to police executives and a department's value
system.

The guidance the executive can provide on such a volatile issue begins with the
value system of the police department and the systems established to put these
values into operation. The community and law enforcement must be involved in
developing a comprehensive approach to drugs and gangs that solicits the
community's cooperation and support. The police department must address both
the criminal acts and the community's fears or perceptions. Specialized training
must be provided to the officers in: effective techniques for investigating drug
activity, making arrests, developing intervention and diversion programs,
establishing racial and cultural awareness programs, and developing broad based
community support through such programs as a citizens' crime watch and D.A.R.E.
The relationship between police and urban youth can become a positive partnership
that includes police, parents, schools, community and business leaders, clergy, and
the media. The relationship should be one that seeks both to prevent and to resolve
problems of crime and disorder based on cooperation, collaboration, and mutual
respect.37
Concluding Statement

It should be reemphasized that the principles of policing presented in this


publication, and summarized here, are not seen as either a panacea or as the
comprehensive, final word on reducing police-citizen violence. These approaches
are offered, first, in recognition that the level of police-citizen violence remains a
serious problem that requires attention. Secondly, they are offered in the sincere
belief that enough has been learned through the experience of the last several
years that a useful contribution can be made by collecting some of that experience
and sharing it.

As pointed out elsewhere in this publication, citizens bear a part of the responsibility
for the tenor of relations with police. However, it is the police role which is key
because of the unique power that is a part of it. To a significant extent, the progress
that has been made in reducing police-citizen violence has occurred because
determined police executives were willing to act where they saw policies or
practices that needed correcting--sometimes against considerable internal and
external opposition. Further improvement will also depend in a major way on the
willingness, and ability, of police executives to push for meaningful change in their
departments.

Thus, this publication is offered as a useful resource. But just as the Community
Relations Service does not regard this as the last word on the subject, the agency
also does not view the sharing of experience and information as a one-way street.
Copies of policies or descriptions of innovative programs from police departments
would be welcome submissions by CRS. It is anticipated that the agency will
continue exploring approaches to avoiding police-citizen violence as part of its
ongoing conflict resolution responsibility, and will widely disseminate the most
useful information obtained. CRS will also continue to make its services directly
available to police agencies through technical assistance on program development.
That assistance is available upon request free of charge.