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NCJ Number: 89675 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Police Knowledge of the Patrol Beat - A Performance Measure (From Police at Work, P 45-64, 1983, Richard R Bennett, ed. - See NCJ-89673)
Author(s): S Mastrofski
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 20
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
Sage Publications, Inc
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
US Dept of Justice NIJ Pub
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 80-IJ-CX-0014
Sale Source: Sage Publications, Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper argues that evaluation of a patrol officer's performance should include knowledge of the community as generated through close contacts with citizens and neighborhood organizations. Data from three cities, however, show that many officers are unfamiliar with citizens' groups in their beats.
Abstract: Police officials acknowledge the importance of beat knowledge, but have excluded it from formal evaluations because such information does not conform with the scientifically based view of professionalism. Beat knowledge has two components -- judgment and understanding. Organizational factors may also affect this knowledge, including department size, stability of beat assignments, residency requirements, personnel deployment, and community development. While citizen contacts are important, an officer's knowledge of voluntary citizen organizations is a prerequisite for understanding the social structure and values of the community he or she governs. Empirical data on officer beat knowledge were collected through interviews with 894 officers, observers riding in patrol cars, and telephone interviews with residents as part of a 1977 survey of 24 police departments in Rochester, N.Y., St. Louis, Mo., and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. Only 38.5 percent of the officers could identify at least one citizen organization active in the neighborhood. The following variables were directly related to officer knowledge: years resided in the jurisdiction, years of police experience, visibility of citizens' organizations to residents, neighborhood wealth, and level of violence. Officers, regardless of race, were most likely to be aware of citizens' organizations if they served in black neighborhoods and less likely in white and mixed neighborhoods. Officers serving high crime areas were also most likely to be knowledgeable. Special programs such as the San Diego Community Profile Project may be necessary to improve patrol officers' knowledge of citizens' organizations. Tables, 5 footnotes, and 29 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Citizen associations; Patrol; Police performance evaluation; Police-citizen interactions
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