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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 69657 Find in a Library
Title: Public Education Program Designed to Increase the Accuracy and Incidence of Citizens' Reports of Suspicious and Criminal Activities
Journal: Journal of Police Science and Administration  Volume:8  Issue:2  Dated:(June 1980)  Pages:160-165
Author(s): D E Frinell; E Dahlstrom; D A Johnson
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 6
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study aimed to ascertain if the public media could be useful for encouraging citizens to report suspicious and criminal activities and for instructing them on how to provide accurate and complete reports.
Abstract: A community newpaper was used to present some statistics on crimes, a plea for more citizen involvement in crime reporting, descriptions of suspicious or criminal activities, and explanations of ways to identify victims and to report characteristics of the event, with a telephone number for reporting such events. The newspaper was issued to a residential community of about 50,000 people in Southern California to see if instructing the citizens of what details they should note would result in more accurate and complete descriptions and if encouraging the citizens to report and providing information on how to report would result in an increase in phone calls to local law enforcement agencies. This public education program appears to have been successful. The message given to the citizens increased the accuracy of reporting important characteristics of suspects in a controlled experiment using photographs. Once the information was learned, there was a very slow rate of memory loss. The program was also successful in increasing the number of calls of suspicious and criminal activity. Even though there was a decrease in the number of crimes for the month the test was in progress, there was a 77 percent increase in the number of calls. Any noticeable decrease in the crime rate would not be expected unless this type of program were carried out in all contiguous communities in a given area. Flaws in the interpretation of this study suggest that further studies might concentrate on whether reports filed in the field are significantly more complete after the person was exposed to the public education message, and if so, whether this actually helped the police officers to apprehend a greater proportion of the alleged criminals. Tables illustrate the findings, and footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): California; Citizen crime reporting; Police community relations
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