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NCJ Number: 204437 Find in a Library
Title: Community Characteristics and Policing Styles in Suburban Agencies
Journal: Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management  Volume:26  Issue:4  Dated:2003  Pages:566-590
Author(s): L. Edward Wells; David N. Falcone; Cara Rabe-Hemp
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 25
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Merging data from a telephone survey of 194 municipal police departments in the 5 counties of the Chicago metropolitan statistical area with data on communities from other government sources, this study used multiple regression analysis to assess the relative importance of community context and organizational structure factors in accounting for differences in departmental policing styles.
Abstract: The community-level data were obtained from the place files of the 1994 County and City Data Book files of the U.S. Census Bureau. These data pertained to the social, economic, housing, and employment attributes of the municipalities of the police departments surveyed. Two indexes of distinct policing modes were used. A law enforcement-oriented policing index reflected the police agencies' formal adoption of professional, paramilitary, specialized, crime-fighting procedures, especially the organizational structure of separate tactical squads within the department. The community-oriented policing measure focused on the "community connectedness" dimension, i.e., the degree to which police identify with, communicate with, and are familiar with the community being policed. The aim was to capture organizational orientation rather than specific program characteristics. The pertinent variables were requiring police officers to reside in the community being policed; using permanent beat assignments that officers come to know well; and maintaining regularly scheduled meetings with community members to discuss community concerns and maintain communication channels. Overall, the findings indicate that differences in community complexity, in resource availability, and in political context did not account empirically for variations in suburban police departmental structures. In contrast, the environmental stability and input demand variables -- including population change, crime rate, and especially population size -- were consistently predictive of differences in police departmental structures. The variable with the strongest influence was community size. Larger communities tended to have larger, more complex, more formalized, but less concentrated (lower police-to-population ratios) police departments. Community size was linked positively with departmental size. Community characteristics had little predictive influence on whether and how community policing was adopted in different communities. There was a positive empirical association, however, between a specialized professional law enforcement orientation and a generalized community-policing orientation as formal operational styles for police agencies. This indicates that large departments operating in large communities employ both styles of police operations, suggesting that the differences between traditional and community-oriented policing are primarily rhetorical. Suggestions are offered for future research. 4 tables, 7 notes, and 28 references
Main Term(s): Community policing
Index Term(s): Demography; Illinois; Police organizational structure; Police policies and procedures; Social conditions
Note: An earlier form of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology at Atlanta, GA, November 2001.
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