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Executive Summary A cross the United States, thousands of local, state, and federal police agencies work to safeguard communities and ensure justice. Police are perhaps the most visible face of government, one that most people recognize and encounter with frequency. They also have special and awesome powers, as they are authorized to use force in their dealings with the public. Policing is primarily shaped by two public expectations. First, the police are called on to deal with crime and disorder, preventing them when possible, and to bring to account those who disobey the law. Second, the public expects their police to be impartial, producing justice through the fair, effective, and restrained use of their authority. The standards by which the public judges police success in meeting these expectations have become more exacting and challenging, and police agencies today must find ways to respond in an effective, affordable, and legitimate way. In 1968 and 1994, landmark legislation increased the federal govern- ment's involvement in policing. The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 created what became the National Institute of Justice, which has sponsored a substantial body of research on police practice. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 encouraged the adoption of community policing, as well as fostering the hiring of many new police officers and the adoption of modern information technology. The 1994 crime act included a mandate to evaluate policing programs al- ready under way or to be sponsored by funds from the legislation itself. Because of this investment in law enforcement practice and research under the 1994 crime act, the National Institute of Justice and the Commu- nity Oriented Policing Services Office, both in the Department of Justice, 1
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2 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING asked the National Research Council to convene the Committee to Review Research on Police Policy and Practices. The committee was asked to assess police research and its influence on policing, as well as the influence and operation of the community policing philosophy. In responding to this charge, the committee examined police research done primarily since 1968, including that sponsored by the 1994 crime act. The committee developed an analytic framework that embodies the man- date of the police to effectively control crime and ensure justice. The dual mandate with regard to effectiveness and fairness forms the cornerstone of this report. Much of our analysis focuses on the evaluation of police opera- tions in light of these two dimensions. Evidence from policing research con- tradicts any concern that an emphasis on policing that is fair and restrained will necessarily undermine their crime control effectiveness, and vice versa, for fairness and effectiveness are not mutually exclusive, but mutually rein- forcing. The work of this committee suggests that policing that is perceived as just is more effective in fostering a law-abiding society, and that success in reducing crime enhances police legitimacy. THE NATURE OF POLICING IN AMERICA The report traces major themes in the development of American polic- ing. It describes a policing "industry" that is highly diverse and decentral- ized, as well as locally controlled and financed. While this is consistent with America's political tradition, it limits the ability of the federal government to spark innovation or encourage uniform and progressive police policies. Instead, such factors as crime, demographic change, local political culture, the courts, and state legislation play important roles in stimulating reactive change in this decentralized system. On one hand, fragmentation of the police industry may hinder the development of coordinated responses to national threats such as domestic antiterrorism efforts, although there is almost no research on this topic at present. On the other hand, a highly decentralized system avoids the risk of nationwide adoption of programs that have little utility for a given locale. There is no systematic evidence on what industry structure best promotes effectiveness, innovation, and ex- perimentation. At the street level, policing is highly discretionary, and individual offic- ers work virtually without direct supervision. The discretionary nature of routine police work increases the difficulty of ensuring the fairness and lawfulness in everyday policing. Police are authorized to exercise their au- thority in encounters with the public by issuing citations, making arrests, and using force. While most encounters are trouble-free, the sheer volume of police-citizen contact means that a significant number of individual citi- zens come away dissatisfied with how they were treated. There is also evi-
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 3 dence of racial and ethnic disparities in these assessments, as well as in public opinion about the police generally. These disparities contribute to a lowered sense of police legitimacy among minority groups. In addition to their enforcement duties, the police provide a broad range of services to the public, and more recently they have expanded their range of crime prevention efforts, but there has been little research on these mat- ters. Most research on detectives is dated, but the committee's review of it seriously challenges the idea that the capacity of the police to solve indi- vidual crimes can be substantially improved. Traffic enforcement commands significant police resources, but it too has escaped the attention of research- ers. The emergence of racial profiling on the nation's public agenda is chang- ing that, but the committee concludes that most current data collection efforts in this area are unlikely to speak to any of the policy issues involved. One of our recommendations calls for more attention to the measurement and research design issues involved in the study of traffic enforcement. EXPLAINING POLICE BEHAVIOR The committee assessed research on the causes of police behavior. Among them are studies that address the central issue of the report: how to ensure the effectiveness and lawfulness of policing. Research in this area includes observational studies of police operations, analyses of administra- tive records, and surveys of the public and the police. Almost all of this research focuses on patrol officers, thus excluding many important elements of police work. The committee divided research on the determinants of police behavior into analytic categories. The first chapter on this topic examines the impact of situational factors and officer characteristics on police work. Situational factors include features of the incident itself, the background and demeanor of suspects, and their immediate context. Many studies of officers engaged in encounters with citizens contrast the impact of legally relevant factors with the influence of extralegal factors in shaping their on-street decisions and actions. The outcomes that have been examined range from making an arrest to using force, negotiating dispute settlements, or choosing to do nothing at all. This research finds that the impact of legally relevant factors is strong. Taking these into account, the class and gender of suspects play a small role. However, more research is needed on the complex interplay of race, ethnicity, and other social factors in police-citizen interactions. Among officer characteristics, neither race nor gender has a direct in- fluence on the outcome of routine police-citizen encounters, and there is no clear effect of officer's attitudes, job satisfaction, or personality. The com- mittee found that research on factors linked to officer recruitment and train- ing is surprisingly limited. There are few studies of the link between officer's
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4 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING knowledge, skill, ability, or intelligence and actual police practice. There is no strong research support for police educational requirements, and re- search on the effects of training on officer effectiveness is unconvincing. Recruitment and training are among the most important activities of police organizations, and more needs to be known about their role in ensuring effective and lawful police conduct; the committee therefore offers a strong research recommendation along these lines. The committee also examined the impact of organizational and com- munity factors on policing. The decisions and actions of officers are situ- ated within these larger contexts, and they affect the quality of policing. Organizations exist in order to define the roles of their members and regu- larize the activities of individuals who fill them. Research indicates, for example, that the policies and practices of police departments directly affect the rate at which officers use lethal force. Arrests, citation rates, and mea- sures of their success in solving cases vary greatly across police organiza- tions, reflecting differences in their policies, performance standards, and characteristic styles of operation. The committee notes the limited research on police leadership and the role of leadership in affecting organizational change. Likewise, neighborhood and city-level factors affect both the decisions of individual police officers and features of their departments. Police-citizen encounters are situated in a neighborhood context that seems to indepen- dently affect how they are conducted, and community factors affect police resource allocation decisions and patrol activities. At the city level, issues like how many officers the taxpayers are willing to support are locally de- termined matters that are affected by a range of political, economic, and crime factors. Local political cultures and the priorities of political leaders affect policies and spending levels as well. CRIME CONTROL EFFECTIVENESS The committee examined research on police effectiveness at reducing crime, disorder, and fear. There has been a great deal of research on these topics, and the committee was able to distinguish between studies that em- ployed adequate methods for studying them and others about which there is less confidence. The committee assessed all work along two tracks: to what extent are strategies effective, and to what extent do they utilize a broad range of tools, including traditional law enforcement powers. The committee concludes that contemporary policing has relied on an operating model emphasizing reactive strategies to suppress crime. The committee's assessment of several decades of research is that there is weak or, at best, mixed evidence regarding the effectiveness of what we have defined as the "standard model" of policing. A large body of carefully con-
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 5 ducted research has found much evidence of the effectiveness of what we have called the "focused model" of policing. The standard model is defined by the more or less across-the-board reliance on random patrol, rapid response to calls for service, follow-up investigations by detectives, and unfocused enforcement efforts. Debates over the proper size of a city's police department also usually hinge on the standard assumption that larger is better when it comes to crime control. There is strong research evidence that the more focused and specific the strategies of the police, the more they are tailored to the problems they seek to address, the more effective police will be in controlling crime and disor- der. Research on police effectiveness in attacking chronic concentrations of crime, widely known as "hot spots," has found that well-managed investi- gations and crackdowns can suppress crime, deter its future reappearance, and avoid simply displacing a similar number of crimes elsewhere. Discov- ering hot spots and tracking the effectiveness of policing efforts against them has been facilitated by the widespread adoption of new computer mapping and crime analysis technologies by the police, another new devel- opment awaiting careful evaluation and analysis. The committee reviewed evidence of the effectiveness of two widely discussed alternatives to the standard model of policing: community and problem-oriented policing. Problem-oriented policing stands in sharp con- trast to the standard model because of its focus on developing highly local- ized responses to the diverse problems that plague different communities. Community policing always involves some form of public involvement, fre- quently in the identification of priority problems and often with some role for the community and for city service agencies in helping solve them. This approach also adopts a problem-oriented stance that emphasizes develop- ing local solutions to locally identified problems. Both are examples of what the report dubs "tailored" responses to crime and disorder. In addition, both seek to look beyond the traditional exercise of the law enforcement powers of the police to reduce crime, disorder, and fear. Our review sug- gests that such approaches have promise and should be the subject of more systematic investigation. LAWFULNESS AND LEGITIMACY The committee also reviewed research on the criteria by which people make judgments about the police: their lawfulness, that is, their compliance with constitutional, statutory, and professional norms, and their legitimacy, defined by the public's beliefs about the police and their willingness to rec- ognize police authority. These beliefs transcend mere popularity, which can vacillate quite a bit. Rather, legitimacy as it used in this report means the degree to which citizens recognize the police as appropriate and justified
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6 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING representatives of government. Many controversies regarding policing fall under these broad criteria of lawfulness and legitimacy; the current crisis of racial profiling is only the most recent example of the challenge police agen- cies face in balancing the demands of effective crime control, lawfulness, and legitimacy. Research in this area includes studies of the implementation and impact of court decisions and administrative policies on police behav- ior in the field, and survey studies of the public that examine their attitudes and experiences with police in their community. Research has examined police compliance with the rules governing po- lice interrogations, searches and seizures, and the use of excessive and lethal force. Compliance has been found to be variable, but it can be enhanced by the actions of determined police administrators. Research on corruption finds that, like other forms of misconduct, police corruption can be traced in part to lax administrative arrangements and a supportive informal peer culture. The solutions to both problems are generally the same: determined leadership, enforcement of department policies and rules, and the creation of new mechanisms for monitoring problem behavior. There is only limited research on the impact of formal legal efforts to control misconduct, through criminal prosecution and civil suits against individual officers and federal "pattern and practice" actions against police departments. Another area about which more needs to be known is the effectiveness of civilian over- sight bodies and review commissions that have been created to bring exter- nal accountability to the police. The committee concludes that the more lawful police are, the more likely the outcomes produced by their actions will be accepted and em- braced by the public. Lawful policing increases the stature of the police in the eyes of citizens, creates a reservoir of support for police work, and expedites the production of community safety by enhancing cooperation with the police. In the end, policing in a democracy must be accomplished by consent; that is, citizens must agree to the exercise of police power. Research has found that people obey the law not just because they are afraid of being punished or because they believe the law is morally right, but also because they believe that the law and its enforcement are fairly administered. The public's judgment can be heavily influenced by the con- duct of the police, one of the most visible representatives of law and govern- ment in most citizens' lives. This suggests the need to extend theories of police effectiveness beyond the communication of a deterrent threat of pun- ishment to encompass police engagement with communities. RECOMMENDATIONS A scientific knowledge base exists for helping communities to decide what strategies to use to reduce crime and disorder while increasing police
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 7 legitimacy. Relative to other institutions of criminal justice, the police are very open to innovations and evaluations in collaboration with universities and other research institutions. This is a remarkable transformation, and it creates the potential for creating an even more effective, fair, efficient, and accountable police in the 21st century. Our specific recommendations build on these findings to provide specific guidance to communities, to state and national lawmakers, and to police themselves. Recommendation 1: Enhancing crime control effectiveness. The com- mittee recommends that police continue to turn their attention from pro- viding standardized levels of police resources and activities to achieving measurable results related to focused effectiveness and fairness issues that reflect community goals. Research demonstrates that the more police focus on achieving localized and specific results, the more effective they will be in controlling crime and disorder. Because one-size-fits-all requirements re- strict the police's ability to match resources to priorities, communities will be safer holding police accountable for results rather than resources. This new management philosophy, coupled with advances in information sys- tems that support more rigorous monitoring and evaluation of the effective- ness of policing strategies, promises to stimulate further innovation in po- licing in the United States. Recommendation 2: Enhancing the lawfulness of police actions. The committee recommends research on the fairness and lawfulness of police practices and a coordinated research emphasis on the effectiveness of orga- nizational mechanisms that foster police rectitude. In its review of police research, the committee noted that early research focused to a significant degree on lawfulness. That research examined the exercise of police discre- tion, the use of police authority, violence and corruption by police, and the use of lethal force. More recently, a new emphasis on crime control effec- tiveness has emerged. While this is important, one of the findings of this report is the importance of police fairness and restraint in the use of force and of equity in the allocation of police resources. Research on the contrast- ing roles played by legally relevant and extralegal factors in shaping on- street police behavior has continued and plays an important role in this discussion. We note some new approaches to the study of police integrity and the processes that promote an environment less tolerant of police cor- ruption, and this line of research should be encouraged. The committee also recommends legislation requiring agencies to file annual reports to the public on the number of persons shot at, wounded, or killed by police officers in the line of duty. Few communities are prepared to understand fully the causal context and mechanisms for minimizing the rate of lethal and nonlethal shootings by police. A reporting system, compa-
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8 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING rable to that created for reporting crime statistics, would help local agencies monitor their own levels of weapon use, in relation to such risk factors as community violence, gun carrying, and arrest rates. Such benchmarking may further contribute to the declining frequency of legally justifiable ho- micide by police, which has proven to be greatly affected by organizational controls. Recommendation 3: Enhancing the legitimacy of policing. Research on public opinion documents the profound gulf between the races in the United States in people's views of the legitimacy of the police. The committee calls for more research on the experiences of crime victims, individuals stopped by the police, and the public, focusing on practices in policing that support or undermine public confidence. To support this, the committee recom- mends conducting a regular national survey to gauge the extent and nature of police-citizen contacts, including items that address public assessments of the quality of police service in their community. Current efforts to collect data on public encounters with police that are intended to inform judgments on whether police agencies engage in racial profiling are not very effective. The committee calls for more research on the collection of reliable and valid encounter data under field conditions that can then be analyzed in ways that point unambiguously to policy rec- ommendations and personnel decisions. The committee also recommends research on mechanisms for ensuring lawfulness. A number of programs have emerged for collecting data on officer performance for the purpose of identifying problem behavior and providing a basis for corrective action. Some early intervention or early warning programs collect data on a broad range of officer performance measures. They have been adopted voluntarily by many law enforcement agencies and have been imposed by consent decrees in other agencies. Rig- orous evaluations are required to determine if these programs effectively produce police accountability. Recommendation 4: Improving personnel practices. The committee rec- ommends research on personnel practices that will help them ensure the crime control effectiveness and legitimacy in the eyes of the public. This includes strategies for police recruitment, personnel development, and job assignment; and research on police performance monitoring, officer assess- ment, and incentive systems. The committee found research inadequate to address two key personnel questions: the utility of requiring college credits for new applicants and what training is most effective in promoting good performance. Recruitment and training are among the most important ac- tivities of police organizations, and more needs to be known about their role in ensuring effective and lawful police conduct.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 9 Recommendation 5: Fostering innovation. The committee recommends research on police organization, innovation processes, and organizational change. Although several federal agencies are charged with encouraging innovation in law enforcement, the committee found little research about the innovation process or how it can be facilitated. There is likewise little systematic, cross-agency research on the extent and effectiveness of organi- zational change strategies in policing, or on the role of police leadership in securing lawful policing. To support this research, the committee recom- mends that the Bureau of Justice Statistics regularly conduct an enhanced version of its current Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics survey. The report makes several suggestions to increase the utility of the data for research and policy analysis, as well as for potentially fruit- ful research topics. These include the need to monitor the broad range of nonenforcement activities performed by the police, many of which fall un- der the rubric of community and problem-oriented policing. Recommendation 6: Assessing problem-oriented and community polic- ing. These are two of the most widely discussed innovations in policing today. Each involves complex packages of programs and organizational adaptations, and each calls for indicators of efficiency and effectiveness that currently are not well measured by most police information systems. The organizational structures and practices that comprise these innovations are highly varied, making it difficult to form general conclusions about their effectiveness on the basis of existing research. Police employ tactics under each of these strategies that can be rigorously evaluated, but the committee found generally that there was not yet enough evidence to document their successes or failures. Future research should do more to advance knowledge about the effectiveness of these innovations by focusing on their key ele- ments. The organizational arrangements that foster effective community and problem-oriented policing and the effectiveness of police training in this area are also not well understood. Recommendation 7: Responding to terrorism. The committee recom- mends research on the demands of responding to terrorism, a topic of ur- gent national interest. There is little research on this topic in the domestic context of the United States, but what exists suggests that responding to terrorism places new demands on municipal police agencies. It requires them to coordinate their efforts with multiple levels of government; to plan in coordination with public health and medical organizations and with the military; and to learn to safeguard their own employees from new chemical and biological risks. They must continue to maintain open communication with the communities they serve and their commitment to lawful conduct, while they are faced with new information and intelligence needs. From the
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10 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING perspective of local departments, more research is needed on how to re- spond to these organizational challenges. Recommendation 8: Organizing research. The committee recommends that the National Institute of Justice take the steps necessary to ensure the growth and stability of its policing research portfolio. In reviewing past research, the committee was impressed by the record of growing police openness to investigations of all aspects of their work. They serve as an example for all the institutions responsible for public safety. However, de- spite this support by practitioners, the committee identified significant gaps in what is known about contemporary policing. There are many important subjects about which there is virtually no scientific research. By any met- ric--whether lives lost to crime, the costs and benefits of government ex- penditures on law enforcement, or the moral obligation embedded in the use of coercive authority--police research deserves more serious attention than it has received. Local communities and the states bear the costs of law enforcement, but the federal government is particularly well situated to pro- vide them the findings of research on police and the communities they serve. A major impediment to advancing policing through research is the need for consistent funding and research planning and administration. Support for police research has been episodic and historically low, given the impor- tance of the institution itself and the vast gaps in knowledge of what works in this area. Organizational changes in the National Institute of Justice providing for an office devoted to research on policing and communities might well resolve the problems of erratic funding and noncumulative de- velopment of research. Whether or not a separate office is formed, the police research portfolio requires stable, long-term research funding man- aged by a professional staff, which could implement broad strategies of knowledge development. The development of the policing portfolio should be under the direction of an official recruited from senior ranks of the scientific community. Finally, funding for the policing portfolio should be balanced between questions of police lawfulness, legitimacy, and crime control effectiveness, to support a research program that reflects the highest standards of science applied to empirical questions of great national concern.
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