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3 The Nature of Policing in the United States T he public view of policing--police officers patrolling streets and re- sponding to emergency crime calls; police detectives interviewing wit- nesses, examining forensic clues, checking records and interrogating suspects; police chiefs and officers struggling to escape from the threat of political interference--is not entirely inaccurate. But it owes far too much to a particular view of policing that is presented on television and in movies for dramatic effect, and far too little to statistics and research. In this chap- ter we rely on the latter to more accurately describe the landscape of polic- ing--in the United States, a varied and complex structure that we call the "police industry." Especially noteworthy characteristics of this industry in- clude the wide variety of functions that law enforcement organizations are asked to perform and the role of individual police officer discretion, and we give both special attention. Within these two broad themes we focus on issues of importance to the rest of the committee's work: the complexity of police-public encounters and the special question of what determines when, why, and how individual police officers exercise authority and force. Fi- nally, the chapter describes recent major innovations in policing that are referred to and evaluated throughout this report. These include new polic- ing strategies and the changing profile of rank-and-file police officers. Like much of this report, most of this discussion is limited to the findings of research on big-city police, because rural and small-town policing has been so underevaluated. Because governments at all levels are concerned with fostering further efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness, this chapter also includes an examina- tion of the innovation process itself. The decentralized nature of policing in 47
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48 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING the United States presents special assets, but it also complicates the process by which police innovate and learn. The locally funded and locally con- trolled world of policing challenges the ability of federal and state govern- ments to promote systematic and directed change. Efforts to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of policing are also limited by what is known. As this report makes clear, there is a tremendous imbalance in what is known about certain aspects of policing and about "what works." Some aspects of policing have been heavily stud- ied, and others have been neglected. This limits our ability to recommend specific programs or policies in many areas. The report calls for further research more often than one might hope, because the knowledge base for policing is so limited on many key topics. ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE OF AMERICAN POLICING It is useful to describe American policing as an industry because, as is the case with other goods and services, services are delivered by a number of different providers (Ostrom, Whitaker, and Parks, 1978:3). Unlike po- lice in most other industrialized countries, the structure of the American police industry is highly fragmented, in the sense that there is a multiplicity of loosely coordinated agencies at different levels of government. In recent years, the relationships between public agencies at different levels of gov- ernment have been further complicated by the existence of multijurisdic- tional task forces directed toward particular problems, such as drug traf- ficking (Geller and Scott, 1992; Jeffries et al., 1998). Estimates vary, depending on the definition that is used, but the most expansive estimate is that there are as many as 21,143 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies (Roth et al., 2000). The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), however, estimates that in 1997 there were approximately 19,160 public law en- forcement agencies (Reeves and Goldberg, 2000). For many years, experts in the field believed there were 40,000 agencies (President's Commission, 1967). The number of employees similarly varies from the 608,540 police officers and civilian employees counted by the Urban Institute in 1996 (Roth et al., 2000) to the Bureau of Justice Statistics survey, which found over 1,000,000 employees, about 775,000 of whom were police officers with arrest powers (Reaves and Goldberg, 2000). The main focus of this report is on local police departments. In 1999, BJS counted 13,500 agencies at this level of government, with about 557,000 employees overall, and about 436,000 sworn police officers (Hickman and Reeves, 2001). Public law enforcement agencies vary considerably in size, as measured by the number of sworn officers (Hickman and Reaves, 2001). A relatively small number of large (1,000 or more officers) agencies (62) provide polic-
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THE NATURE OF POLICING IN THE UNITED STATES 49 ing services for 17.2 percent of the U.S. population (Brown and Langan, 2001). Large cities also have a disproportionate share of violent crime: in 2000, cities with over 1 million population accounted for 18.6 percent of all violent crime reported to the police (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2001; Langan et al., 2001). At the same time, thousands of the smallest agencies, many with one or two officers, respond to very small numbers of violent crimes. Agency size is an extremely important factor in policing: Not only do the largest police departments face the most complex responsi- bilities, in large part because they are in urban environments with the most serious social problems, but they are also intricate bureaucracies and as a consequence extremely difficult to manage and to change. Because of these variations, it is virtually impossible to talk about policing as a homogenous institution. Law enforcement agencies at different levels of government have sub- stantially different formal responsibilities, as prescribed by law, and there- fore engage in different kinds of activities. Local police (municipal police departments, county police departments, and county sheriffs) have the broadest mandate: nearly all municipal and county police agencies enforce criminal laws, maintain order, and provide miscellaneous services to the public on a day-to-day basis. Because these agencies engage in routine pa- trol throughout the communities they serve and respond to requests for service, they are the agencies most visible to the public and also have the most direct contact with them. At the local level, municipal law enforcement agencies provide the lion's share of police services in the United States, with a few sheriffs providing general policing services. The 1999 BJS agency survey (Brown and Langan, 2001) indicates that there were approximately 13,524 municipal police forces in the United States. Only 46 of these departments employed more than 1,000 sworn officers, yet these same agencies constituted 34.1 percent of all local sworn officers in the country. Meanwhile, 771 local police de- partments employ just one sworn officer. Local law enforcement is also organized at the county level, primarily around the office of county sheriff. Fewer than 100 of the 3,100 or so county law enforcement agencies go by the designation "police depart- ment," while the rest are titled "sheriff's office" (or "department") (Reaves and Goldberg, 2000). The 1997 BJS survey indicates that there were nearly 175,000 sworn officers employed by the approximately 3,000 sheriff's of- fices throughout the nation (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000). One of the major distinctions between sheriff's offices and county and municipal po- lice departments is that the head of the agency (i.e., the sheriff) is nearly always an elected official, while both city and county police chiefs generally are appointed executive branch employees. Sheriff's departments are also unique in that they serve all three branches of the criminal justice system:
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50 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING law enforcement, courts, and corrections. About 98 percent of all sheriff's departments also provide bailiff and other services to the county courts, including serving summonses and other civil law matters, and about 80 percent also operate the primary jail in their counties (Brown and Langan, 2001). State law enforcement agencies fall into two basic categories. About half are primarily responsible for traffic enforcement on highways, while the other half have general law enforcement responsibilities throughout the state. In addition, many states maintain state-level bureaus of criminal in- vestigation with broad law enforcement responsibilities. In 1996 state po- lice agencies employed about 85,000 people, 56,000 of whom were sworn officers (Hickman and Reaves, 2001). Most states also maintain other or- ganizations with special and limited law enforcement powers, such as fish and game police, harbor police, and units that guard state buildings. There were an estimated 575 such agencies in 1993 employing 14,300 people (Roth et al., 2000). In addition, state agencies often cover jurisdiction anomalies or unincorporated areas and small towns that do not have their own police forces. Basic police services are provided to these areas by state law enforcement or county sheriff's departments, often under a formal con- tractual arrangement. At the federal level, there are an estimated 69 law enforcement agencies employing a total of about 88,000 officers "with arrest and firearm author- ity" (Reaves and Hart, 2000). The responsibilities of federal agencies are generally very specific and defined by federal law--for example, the Cus- toms Bureau enforces import and export laws. While the largest federal agencies--the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)--are well known to the public, there are also many very small agencies, for example the Library of Congress police, which em- ploys only 147 law enforcement officers. Law enforcement services are also provided by a number of special district police, which are independent or semi-independent of other units of government. Of these, the most important are American Indian tribal law enforcement police. As a result of the historic and unique legal status of American Indian tribes, many tribal authorities operate their own police departments (and in some cases entire criminal justice systems) (Feinman, 1986; Luna, 1998; Wakeling et al., 1999). These agencies are not subject to many of the state and federal laws (e.g., equal employment opportunity requirements). Little research has been conducted on tribal policing; how- ever, a recent federal report found very high rates of criminal victimization and inadequate law enforcement protection in tribal areas (U.S. Attorney General, 1997; Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1999). Apart from tribal police, there are an estimated 1,316 other special district police departments, including 117 public school system police and
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THE NATURE OF POLICING IN THE UNITED STATES 51 28 transportation system police agencies. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1998). There are between 581 and 1,316 campus law enforcement agencies; the varying estimates illustrate the difficulties in determining even how many law enforcement agencies there are in the country (Bromley and Reaves, 1998; Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1998). Law enforcement and the criminal justice system more generally are an expensive item in the national budget. Most of the cost of policing is borne locally. Overall, local government spending on policing totaled about $41 billion during 1996-1997, the most recent figures available. This represented a near tripling in spending since 1981-1982, when local policing cost about $14 billion. In 2000, the nation's largest local police departments almost equaled the entire allocation of 1981-1982: the 62 local agencies that serve cities with 250,000 or more population spent $13.1 billion operating their departments. In 1996-1997, local government spent just over three times as much on education, the largest function of local government, as it did on policing (U.S. Census Bureau, 1997). Estimates of the cost of policing must consider the important role that overtime pay plays in certain police pro- grams. Many departments pay police officers overtime to staff special events, extend the shifts of special units, and respond to emergencies, as well as to compensate for recurring understaffing. During the 1990s, fed- eral support for overtime in order to provide personnel for projects of na- tional interest played a growing role in agency finances (Bayley and Worden, 1998). As a result, spending, rather than personnel totals, best reflects the overall magnitude of police operations. Governance of Public Police Agencies As public-sector organizations, police agencies in the United States are subject to direct public control and influence. The bulk of these agencies serve municipalities and other local jurisdictions, and they are locally fi- nanced and locally controlled. The tradition of local control, which also prevails with respect to public education in the United States, generates both unique strengths and special problems for policing. On one hand, local political control represents a fundamental aspect of democratic self-government: the principle that public agencies are subject to control by officials elected by and responsible to the taxpayers. Because of this preference, the decentralized nature of policing has been remarkably resistant to long-standing recommendations for consolidation into larger units serving several communities (Ostrom, Parks, and Whitaker, 1978). Local political control is a vital aspect of the legitimacy of the police. By providing a means by which residents can control the law enforcement agen- cies that serve their communities, the policies and priorities of these agen- cies are responsive to public concerns.
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52 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING On the other hand, public control and influence--or what is often la- beled "politics"--has historically resulted in problems for law enforcement in the United States, including inefficiency, corruption, and abuse of power- less groups, especially minorities (Fogelson, 1977; Walker, 1977). At vari- ous times in history, these problems have led to efforts to reform the gover- nance of policing. One approach popular in the 19th century involved shifting control of big city agencies to state government. With only a few exceptions, control later returned to the municipalities. More often reform- ers attempted to insulate police departments from politics by protecting employees through civil service regulations or guaranteeing the chief execu- tive long or lifetime tenure in office. Consequences of Fragmentation The fragmentation of law enforcement agencies has long raised con- cerns about the lack of coordination of effort among agencies in the same geographical jurisdiction and a consequent loss of effectiveness and effi- ciency. These concerns were part of a larger concern about a "nonsystem" of criminal justice and lack of coordination among all components of the criminal justice system (Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, 1973). In response to the coordination, effectiveness, and efficiency concerns, pub- lic administration experts have for decades advocated the consolidation of law enforcement agencies in certain geographic areas. Little consolidation has occurred, in large part because of opposition from entrenched political and bureaucratic interests. In addition, research by Ostrom, Whitaker, and Parks (1978:321) found that small law enforcement agencies were not as inefficient as they had traditionally been portrayed. Apart from formal consolidation, considerable coordination and shar- ing of services exists along the lines described by Ostrom et al. (1978), and there is some reason to believe that such efforts have increased in the past 25 years. The International City Management Association (Fyfe, 1983) esti- mates that police communications and jail services are among the govern- ment services most commonly shared through contracting or joint agree- ments between local governments. New concerns about regional, national, and international criminal activity have led to the creation of regional task forces or strike forces related to specific forms of criminal activity, notably drugs (Jeffries et al., 1998). The heightened national concern about terrorism following the events of September 11, 2001, has increased public interest in coordinated law enforcement efforts and new roles for local police in combating a previ- ously faraway problem. While a number of new antiterrorism measures have been launched since September 11, as yet there is little systematic re- search to serve as a guide for these new ventures. Little is known, for ex-
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THE NATURE OF POLICING IN THE UNITED STATES 53 ample, about the factors related to successful interagency coordination or successful antiterrorist strategies and tactics in a domestic U.S. context. As a result of the decentralized police industry, different levels of gov- ernment exert different degrees and forms of influence on law enforcement. Role of the Federal Government Contrary to popular belief, the federal role in shaping the character of policing is relatively small. Federal influence or control over policing is expressed through each of the three branches of the federal government. For the most part, and especially in comparison to the organization of policing in many other industrial nations, the federal government has had little to do with the conduct of American policing. In the United Kingdom, for example, local agencies receive half of their annual budget from the national government, and senior police managers receive extensive train- ing at a national police academy. The budgetary process and national train- ing are used there used to ensure conformance with national standards for local policing. Presidents of the United States have the power to influence law enforce- ment in very limited ways. Most directly, the president appoints the U.S. attorney general and the director of the FBI, thereby shaping federal law enforcement policy. The president also appoints the directors of the Office of Justice Programs and the National Institute of Justice, both charged with providing assistance to state and local criminal justice agencies, thereby influencing the policies and spending of these agencies. The U.S. Depart- ment of Justice (DOJ) can also take action to protect the rights of citizens. Most recently, the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act authorized the DOJ to sue police departments for a "pattern or practice" of violating the rights of citizens; before 1994, such broad powers were lim- ited to police agencies receiving certain government funds or to individual complaints filed with the DOJ Civil Rights Division. To date about eight departments have resolved such suits with consent decrees requiring a vari- ety of organizational reforms. These legal powers are a potentially impor- tant instrument of police reform (Chapter 7 considers them, and lawsuits more generally, in more detail). The president also sponsors federal legisla- tion that may impact law enforcement. Finally, presidents appoint justices to the Supreme Court, which ultimately shapes constitutional law as it af- fects policing. Federal financial support for state and local law enforcement funds represents less than 10 percent of all law enforcement spending. This per- centage closely parallels the role of federal spending with regard to public education in the United States (8.5 percent of all spending in 1996) (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999:166). Through its research arm, the National Insti-
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54 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING tute of Justice (and its predecessor the Law Enforcement Assistance Admin- istration), the federal government funds research on various aspects of the criminal justice system, including policing. Under the 1994 Violent Crime Control Act, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services had spent $7.6 billion by November 2000 to support community policing (Ramirez et al., 2001b). The Office of Justice Programs, meanwhile, has supported dem- onstration projects designed to spur innovation and promote police effec- tiveness. In the end, however, the typical local law enforcement agency could carry out its core functions without federal support. Aside from financial support, the principal federal legislation affecting police departments are the various equal employment opportunity laws. The most important is Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlaws employment discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origins, religion, and gender. Other federal laws, such as the Americans with Dis- abilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, also affect the em- ployment practices of law enforcement agencies. It is important to note, however, that these laws are negative in orientation, prohibiting various practices. They are not affirmative in the sense of creating federal standards of employment for law enforcement. Decisions by the federal courts have significant implications for police policies and practices. The most important involve constitutional aspects of criminal procedure and cover such areas as searches and seizures (Fourth Amendment to the Constitution) and interrogations (Fifth Amendment). Some of the most important decisions have had important ancillary conse- quences in terms of prodding police departments to improve recruitment, training, and supervision (Walker, 1993). The federal courts are also cur- rently involved in handling Justice Department "pattern or practice" suits and enforcing consent decrees that require major organizational reforms on the departments in question (Davis et al., 2002). Role of State Governments State governments also have a less limited but still relatively small role in shaping the overall character of public law enforcement in the United States. Historically, there has been almost no state financial support for municipal policing. Beginning in the late 1960s, the states set minimum standards for the training and certification of police officers. States have long had certification or licensing standards for other professions, but re- quirements for the police actually were developed later than those for many other jobs. State certification requirements (e.g., length of preservice train- ing) are typically lower than those required by many large urban police agencies. A number of states have instituted procedures for decertifying officers guilty of misconduct, thereby denying them the right to be police
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THE NATURE OF POLICING IN THE UNITED STATES 55 officers in that state--but not other states (Puro, Goldman, and Smith, 1997). More than federal law, state statutes impact police operations. State statutes define which employees have the official status of "peace officer" and describe the authority of police to arrest and to use force. Many states also have laws governing specific police actions, such as high-speed pursuits and handling domestic violence incidents. State laws also regulate the col- lective bargaining rights of organizations representing police employees. State laws regarding the appeal or arbitration of police officer discipline cases have an impact on accountability in local departments. States also codify the criminal statutes that the police enforce, setting procedural stan- dards for apprehending and prosecuting those who violate them. State courts play a significant role, partly because they make operational the gen- eral principles of police conduct enunciated by federal appellate courts. Role of Local Governments Local governments exercise the greatest control over American law en- forcement. This control is manifested in terms of budgetary support and the appointment or election of chief executives. Through the appointment pro- cess, local officials have a strong voice in shaping the general policies of police departments. For example, a mayor might dismiss a police chief be- cause the chief is perceived to be insufficiently aggressive about fighting crime or has been unable to eliminate corruption in the department. Local governments in over 100 cities and counties (representing at least one-third of the U.S. population) have also created civilian oversight agencies, which have various roles and responsibilities with respect to complaints by the public against police officers and, as a consequence, have become signifi- cant factors with respect to regulating police behavior (Walker, 2001). Private agencies provide a wide range of law enforcement services in the United States (Kakalik and Wildhorn, 1977). This already large and still rapidly growing private security sector can variously work to supplement, complement, and conflict with the activities of public police. The division of labor between public and private agencies is increasingly ambiguous (Bayley and Shearing, 2001). The exact size of the private security industry is not known, in part because of the difficulty in measuring an enterprise that consists of many small firms employing a large number of part-time and short-term employ- ees. One study estimated more than 400,000 employees in the private secu- rity industry in 1972, with just under 75 percent of these individuals being primarily employed in the industry (Kakalik and Wildhorn, 1977:18). Some private security employees are uniformed and easily recognizable. They provide a broad spectrum of security services, such as guarding build-
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56 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING ings or business districts, protecting shipments of valuable goods, patrolling neighborhoods, and responding to home security alarms. Other "white- collar" security workers conduct investigations, audits, and computer secu- rity projects that parallel to a certain extent the functions of public-sector police. Not only is the so-called private security industry large and com- plex, but also there are many arrangements whereby public agencies con- tract with private security providers and private groups contract with pub- lic agencies for services. Some police departments contract out a few of their activities to these firms, including prisoner services, training, court security, dispatching, and traffic and parking control. As Forst and Man- ning (1999:15) note, "The police no longer monopolize public safety." Other Forms of Policing Public and even private police represent only a part of the law enforce- ment and security apparatus of the United States. Because of its focus on larger municipal police departments--a focus imposed by the body of re- search open for review--a great deal of "law enforcement" in the United States falls outside the purview of this report. A broad range of organiza- tions exist at least in part to protect the public from criminal attack, doing so at least in part by enforcing criminal laws. They include, for example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It enforces a body of law that is both civil and criminal. Its goal is to protect workers from the negli- gent or malicious acts of employers. Yet it does not think of itself as a police organization. Neither do state-level alcoholic beverage control commissions, even though they, too, enforce laws with an eye to protecting the safety of the public. Viewed from this perspective, the police are a subset of the broader class of security and law enforcement agencies. These activities are carried out by a wide range of public agencies at the federal, state, and local levels of government. It is also important to note (but this report does not further consider) that perhaps the most important source of community security is generated by individuals acting in their own self-defense, by exercising caution and good judgment, buying locks or dogs, and sometimes banding together with other community members in collective security efforts. Even the debate over civilians carrying licensed concealed weapons has taken on "policing" overtones, through their possible crime prevention effects (Kleck, 1991). Indeed, both self-help and private security came long before public policing. Public policing as we know it was invented only about a century and a half ago, and prior to that time, enforcement of criminal laws lay in the hands of private parties. An important issue for the future is the extent to which state and local police, private security forces, and even neighborhood watch groups and
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THE NATURE OF POLICING IN THE UNITED STATES 57 citizen patrols should or could be more effectively integrated into a larger national security apparatus. Concerns about terrorism, drugs, and so on seem to push in this direction. By the same token, strong traditions that favor localism and instinctively distrust powerful central governments ad- vise us to resist the temptation. Because we are focusing on American polic- ing--understood to be primarily public agencies controlled at the local level--we have not addressed ourselves to these larger structural issues, but they will doubtless become increasingly important in the future. ACTIVITIES OF THE POLICE The police have many different responsibilities. Many of these are framed in very vague terms. It is not precisely clear, for example, what maintaining order might encompass. Interpreting these vague mandates and selecting priorities from among them requires a high level of discretion on the part of police executives and policy makers. In addition, there are po- tential conflicts between many of the various responsibilities. One of the core dilemmas of policing, for example, is that public demands for effective law enforcement may seem to conflict with the responsibility to protect individual civil liberties. Growing recognition of the complexity of police roles and responsibilities has led members of the profession (which includes both law enforcement officials and policy-oriented members of the aca- demic community) to reconceptualize the police role and redirect police department activities in ways that are more in accord with the realities of policing and the needs of the American people (Goldstein, 1977; Sparrow, Moore, and Kennedy, 1990). This section examines a number of police activities; these activities serve as the context in which police execute their many responsibilities. First, police encounter the public in a number of ways, including, especially, uni- formed patrol. Under this broad rubric, the police work to maintain order, provide service, control traffic, prevent or investigate crimes, and process information. Occasionally, the police provide what can be called special- ized services--wherein discrete organizational units, like SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams, perform unique functions. This section exam- ines what is known about all of these activities. Engagement with Citizens and the Community Uniformed Patrol The bulk of police work is conducted by uniformed officers assigned to patrol specific geographic areas (beats). Typically, roughly 60 percent of all sworn officers in city police departments are assigned to the patrol bureau,
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98 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING think of themselves as developing a new idea for themselves. They also face the problem of gaining acceptance for the idea in their own organization. This means that they have to innovate inside their own organizations in order to embrace the new idea, and that process may not be all that differ- ent from developing the idea from scratch in the first organization that developed the concept. One implication of these observations is that organizations might be considered more or less innovative based on three somewhat different ideas. First, how likely they are to come up with the wholly original new idea. Second, how likely they are to embrace ideas that are not "globally new" but are "locally new" (in the sense that their organization has not ever done this before). Third, how likely in embracing the idea are they to make sig- nificant changes in the idea in ways that improve the idea for future use in their own and other organizations. An organizational field could be consid- ered more or less innovative depending on the representation of these dif- ferent kinds of organizations in the field. The more creative originators, the more rapid adopters, and the more imaginative adapters in the organiza- tional field, the more innovative the organizational field is likely to be. Factors Shaping Innovativeness The broad decentralization of American policing creates both opportu- nities and problems for the development and dissemination of innovations. On one hand, precisely because the system is very decentralized, and be- cause, as a consequence, police organizations face somewhat different task environments and respond to different political aspirations, one might ex- pect there to be lots of variability in what police departments do, and that that variability would be a reflection of a high degree of innovation and variety in the field as a whole. On the other hand, precisely because the field is decentralized, it is difficult to find a central point of leverage to move the field. There is not enough coherent authority over the field, nor enough centralized control of funding to be able to push a specific model of policing through the field as a whole. Given these observations, it is surprising, then, to see how much consis- tency exists in the field of policing, how stable those patterns have been over time, and how, when strategies, programs, or administrative systems change in these organizations, they seem to change very rapidly and all at once. Apparently, there are some forces acting on thousands of local police departments that push them toward conformity with some kind of profes- sional norm. Furthermore, these pressures produce a high degree of inertia most of the time. But finally, when these norms change, they seem to change widely and fairly quickly--say within a decade.
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THE NATURE OF POLICING IN THE UNITED STATES 99 What these forces might be that produce consistency and stability within the field in some periods, and rapid change in the embrace of new strategic, programmatic, technological, or technological innovations on the other are hard to discern for the field of policing. Recently, police researchers have differed in their theories for explaining the factors that lead to innovation within individual police departments and across the field: Zhao (1996) ar- gues that environmental factors stimulate innovations. Mullen (1996), sees internal, agency-specific decisions and factors as key. Given that there is as much consistency as there is in the field, and that the field seems to change all at once, one would be tempted to conclude that it must be environmen- tal factors operating across the nation that cause the changes to occur. Yet one could save the idea that internal, agency-specific decisions and factors were the key if one considered as an important environmental factor the number of other police departments that seemed to be embracing or resist- ing a new innovation. If the individual choices of departments to embrace or reject an innovation are based in part on what the other organizations around them or known to them have done, then one could conclude that the distinction between the environmental hypothesis on one hand and the organizational decision-making process on the other were not so different. Indeed, one could say that the way the environmental factors work on po- licing is only through the choices made by organizational leaders and their skill in leading their organizations, and what makes it seem as if organiza- tional factors are producing the results is that organizational leaders are all acting similarly in response to the changed environment. As King (1998) points out, many researchers have formally or infor- mally studied the adoption of a single innovation, from community policing (Zhao, 1996), to police technology (Seaskate, Inc., 1998), to even police uniforms (Monkonnen, 1981). However, only a smaller body of literature is devoted to the process of diffusion itself (Weiss, 1998; King, 1998; Weis- burd, 2002). The lack of convergence among these studies (King, 1998) reflects the instability of the larger diffusion literature (Damanpour, 1991) and limits the ability of the committee to draw comprehensive conclusions that are sure to be useful to policy makers. Drivers of Innovation in Policing There needs to be more research on the sources of innovation in polic- ing. Of particular importance would be findings about particular institu- tions and processes that give leverage on shaping the field of policing. We summarize this literature in terms of particular institutions and processes that have been investigated as important drivers of change in policing. 1. Innovation by Edict: Supreme Court Decisions and Civil Suits. Courts are obviously important drivers of change in the field of policing. Court
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100 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING decisions can invalidate existing practices and define new minimum legal standards (e.g., the Miranda and Garner decisions). In many instances, court decisions defining minimum constitutional standards compel police depart- ments to undertake various collateral changes (e.g., changes in recruitment standards to comply with equal employment opportunity requirements). More recently, consent decrees arising from Department of Justice suits over a pattern or practice of abuse have imposed major organizational re- forms on some police departments. These consent decrees have, in effect, ratified and promoted a short list of best practices related to accountability and integrity (Klockars et al., 2000). 2. Innovation Through Research. As noted, academic research has been another important source of innovation. The creation of the Police Founda- tion in 1970, with funding from the Ford Foundation, introduced a new era of research and demonstration projects in policing. Published research on innovations has questioned many traditional assumptions about police work and validated and popularized certain innovations. The Kansas City Pre- ventive Patrol Experiment (Kelling et al., 1974), for example, played a ma- jor role in undermining the traditional assumptions about preventive patrol and forced the search for alternative modes of service that culminated in the development of community policing and problem-oriented policing. The Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment (Sherman, 1992) and the con- trols over police use of deadly force (Milton et al., 1977; Fyfe, 1979) were particularly influential in the development of new police policies. There is considerable concern in the field, however, about basing re- forms on only one or perhaps a handful of scientific studies (Lempert, 1984, 1989; Sherman, 1992). Compared with other areas in which science and public policy intersect--such as the health impact of tobacco or global warming--and there are literally thousands of studies, the scientific litera- ture on major police issues is scant. 3. Innovation as a Confluence of Problems and Solutions. One of the reasons that innovations of the programmatic and technological means tend to take off quickly in policing before adequate research has been completed is that one of the important drivers of innovation in policing are those occasions on which research findings, police practices, and technology sud- denly come together in a powerful way. A detailed case study by Weisburd illustrates the point. After years of results that demonstrated the ineffective- ness of core policing practices, such as generalized patrol and decreased response time, research began to focus on the spatial concentration of crime and police. Some who are aware of this research, and some who are not, initiated hot-spot policing, a strategy designed to target specific crime areas. Crime-mapping software, a highly refined version of older police pin maps, demonstrated its usefulness in geographically tracking crime trends at the
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THE NATURE OF POLICING IN THE UNITED STATES 101 very time when hot-spot policing seemed to promise the best results (Weis- burd, 2002). Thus the coincidence of strategy with technology led to the diffusion of crime-mapping. It seems likely that the cues to innovate differ based on the type of innovation, whether technological, as was the case in crime-map- ping, administrative, or as a matter of policy. Finally, the perceived advan- tage of the innovation over and above the practice or item that it seeks to replace--what economists call the relative advantage--plays an important role behind the selection of any given innovation. 4. Innovation Stimulated by Local Governance. It is important to note a distinctive difference between private-sector innovation and that in the policing domain: the relative openness or permeability of police agencies to change is a function of the democratic structure of the governance of polic- ing. In private organizations, profit or competitive advantage motivates most innovations. In policing, the external social and political environment penetrates police organizations and leads to change. The professionalization movement at the turn of the 20th century, for example, was part of the larger Progressive Era reform ethos that sought to make government agen- cies more efficient and at the same time promote social justice. The civil rights movement of the 1960s stimulated a wide range of changes designed to achieve greater racial equality in policing, through greater employment of minority officers, the creation of specialized police-community relations units and civilian oversight agencies, and the development of policies de- signed to curb police misconduct. As discussed earlier, the changing compo- sition of police forces has occurred in response to larger trends related to the employment of women and racial and ethnic minorities. The commu- nity policing movement was driven by increased public demands for both more effective crime control and more positive relations between police and the public (Walker, 1977, 1998). 5. Innovation Through Professional, Accrediting, and Auditing Organi- zations. A third potentially important driver of change in policing are the influences that are brought to bear by professional organizations such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the Police Execu- tive Research Forum (PERF), the National Sheriffs Association (NSA), and others. These organizations are important influences on innovation through two mechanisms. On one hand, they convene police professionals and en- courage open-ended discussion through formal and informal means. This creates a sort of free market in ideas and a chance for the widely decentral- ized police field to come together to discuss their work. On the other, these organizations sometimes work to develop and disseminate new ideas and issue recommended policies on various issues in a manner similar to profes- sional associations in other fields.
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102 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING Accreditation is another source of change, if not innovation. The Com- mission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) was established in 1979 and published its first set of standards in 1983. The process of becoming accredited often forces departments to undertake sig- nificant organizational change in order to comply with required standards. The CALEA standards tend to codify innovations that have gained recogni- tion as important minimum requirements. However, accreditation is en- tirely voluntary, and only a few hundred agencies have been accredited to date. Similarly, auditing agencies, often called in by mayors or city councils to review the efficiency and effectiveness of police organizations, have a powerful effect on innovations in the field. To be able to audit an organiza- tion on some objective basis, there has to some agreement about the stan- dards to be used. Those standards, in turn, tend to be set by past traditions and understandings rather than emergent ideas. As a result, many innova- tive ideas in policing are viewed by conventional auditing agencies as prob- lems rather than advantages for police departments, and it takes a while for new ideas about what is valuable, efficient, and effective to work their way into existing audit standards. 6. Innovation as a Process of Social Learning. Closely related to the idea that innovation might be spread by professional associations is the idea that innovation is spread by a more generalized, informal process of social learning that animated, led, and legitimated by the action of particular or- ganizations that are known to be particularly innovative. The importance of these particular organizations is suggested by research that shows that the process by which an innovation is spread is far from random across organizations. Indeed, organizational research has found that if one were to track the rate of any successfully adopted innovation, it would follow an S- curve pattern. The early adopters grouped at the lower end initiate the pat- tern and seem to set the stage for the adoption by others. The process of diffusion continues more rapidly in a distinctive spike in the rate of adop- tion and then settles into a plateau, indicating that adoption has spread to, and through, a community of potential adopters and is now at equilibrium. Importantly, the early, adopters are more "cosmopolitan" than their peers (Rogers, 1983)--that is, they participate in forums that mediate the ex- change of ideas. Studies have confirmed this in the policing field (Moore, Spelman, and Young, 1992; Weiss, 2001; Weisburd, 2002). One finding that has emerged from research is that police agencies, left to their own devices, follow a pattern of social learning (Kapur, 1995) in deciding whether or when to adopt an innovation (Weiss, 2001, 1998). Social learning describes an unstructured but effective process whereby an organization, in this case a police agency, judges whether to adopt an inno-
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THE NATURE OF POLICING IN THE UNITED STATES 103 vation based on the experience of a similarly situated police department. In most medium or large-size agencies, police planners function as the con- duits of social learning: they identify, contact, and communicate the experi- ences of other departments to their own (Klockars and Harver, 1993). Weiss (1997) conducted a survey of 400 state and local police planners and found three key factors that determine which agencies police planners contact: the agency is in the same state or region; the agency faces the same problems and issues; and, finally, the agency has a good reputation. The first two criteria might be thought of as different kinds of peer agencies--regional or situational--whereas the last judgment seems to be based on subjective po- lice professional knowledge. This "good reputation" category may also in part be determined, in the minds of practitioners, by selecting policing agen- cies that hosted well-publicized research projects germane to the innovation in question (Weiss, 2001). Since early adoption among cosmopolitan agencies sets off the diffu- sion process, identification of these agencies becomes a priority for those who wish to spread desirable practices or technology. In drawing these distinctions among police agencies, Weiss's finding that networks of com- munication vary based on the type of innovation must be considered. For instance, Weiss found that on administrative topics, police planners con- tacted their "regional dyad or clique," yet on substantive strategies or is- sues, such as domestic violence or community policing, police agencies con- tacted the cosmopolitan "opinion leaders" (Weiss, 2001:12). Again, it is significant that publicized research projects played a role in the identifica- tion of this latter group. 7. Innovations Stimulated by the Federal Government. Of particular current interest is the role played by the federal government in encouraging innovation in policing. Much less is known of the role of federal executive branch agencies in stimulating innovation in policing. In an earlier period, special blue ribbon commissions, such as the President's Crime Commis- sion in the 1960s (President's Commission, 1967), promulgated new ideas and minimum standards (Walker, 1985). The federal government continues to sponsor research and demonstration projects through the National Insti- tute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, but only a few follow- up studies have been made of their impact on police practices generally. A rare exception to this rule was a study carried out by the Urban Institute that evaluated the impact of the federal Community Oriented Policing Ser- vices (COPS) program on the spread of community and problem-solving policing across the field of policing. This study is sufficiently important in its own right as a source of information about how much the field of polic- ing has changed, and the ways in which the federal government can make change, that it is worth exploring in some detail.
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104 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING Adoption of Community Policing: A Case Study The adoption of community policing over the past 20 years represents an important case study of the change process in policing. Hickman and Reaves (2001) report that the development of strategic plans incorporating community policing is common in most departments, especially among those serving communities over 50,000. By 1999, local departments em- ploying about 80 percent of the nation's police officers had adopted some form of geographical responsibility for patrol personnel, and about half worked for agencies that were giving detectives turf-based assignments. In addition, by the same time, half of all officers worked for agencies engaging in problem-oriented policing in a systematic way, and one-third of these incorporated problem-oriented policing successes in performance evalua- tions. Most people lived in places where police had formalized problem- oriented policing partnerships with other agencies and groups, virtually all (96 percent) lived in places where police reported meeting regularly with residents, and over 90 percent of Americans live in cities providing residents with routine access to crime statistics. Other estimates are available of the shape of American policing in the wake of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics program con- ducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that, by 1999, almost two- thirds of local police departments reported they had officers serving in full-time community policing roles. More than 91,000 officers reportedly were serving in that capacity, or 21 percent of all sworn personnel (Hickman and Reaves, 2001). In terms of agencies, the Urban Institute's evaluation found that about 55 percent of the 19,175 law enforcement agencies that were eligible for federal grants (which includes many agencies that are not municipal police departments) requested and received at least one by the end of 1999 (Roth et al., 2000). Hickman and Reaves (2001) found that 34 percent of local police departments reported having officers with full-time assignments to community policing in 1997, a figure that rose to 64 percent by 1999. Full- time assignments to community policing were more common with increas- ing city size in 1999, ranging from 54 percent in towns under 2,500 to 100 percent in cities of 1 million or more. However, between 1997 and 1999, there were increases in the proportion of cities reporting assigning officers to community-oriented jobs in every size category. The largest percentage of new adoptions of community policing could be found in cities below 50,000 in population, and smaller towns were among those committing the largest fraction of their officers to these assignments. What do agencies practice under community policing that is new? Zhao, Lovrich, and Thurman (1999) examined its adoption in cities of 25,000
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THE NATURE OF POLICING IN THE UNITED STATES 105 and larger by surveying police agencies. They found that by 1996, 90 per- cent or more reported adopting activities implementing the kinds of core organizational strategies reviewed earlier: decentralization, community en- gagement, and problem solving. Roth et al. (2000) report substantial in- creases in partnership building by police between the mid-1990s and 1998. This included holding regular community meetings, surveying the public, and forming advisory committees. Over this same period, agencies were more likely to adopt new mission statements as well. Federal Role in Community Policing The federal government has played a large role in promoting commu- nity policing. Federal agencies funded demonstration programs and research projects that explored its possibilities, and they promoted it in a series of national conferences and through their publication channels. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 funded new positions for officers with community assignments, supported community policing train- ing academies in every region of the country, and facilitated the purchase and utilization of new technologies that promised to support neighborhood- oriented policing and return sworn officers from desk jobs to the street. These responsibilities were assigned to a new agency in the Justice Depart- ment, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Federal funding did increase the number of officers with community- oriented assignments, although the magnitude of its effect is uncertain. An evaluation of the 1994 act by the Urban Institute concluded that, by the end of 1998, it had led to a net increase of 36,000 to 37,000 police officers. By the end of 1999 that number had risen to almost 61,000, and the federal government had awarded a total of about $4.3 billion for officer hiring. Many agencies also applied for technology support grants from the COPS Office. Their stated goal was to release sworn officers from office jobs by acquiring efficiency-enhancing equipment and hiring civilian technical staff. By the end of 1999, just over $1 billion had been allocated through this part of the program, resulting in claims of a projected yield of about 40,000 officer full-time equivalents for community policing (Roth et al., 2000). Community policing requires more than hiring and assigning officers; police officers must also acquire new skills and perspectives. Major new innovations such as community policing highlight the importance of train- ing for officers. The 1994 crime law also funded the creation of regional community policing centers around the country. By 1999, 88 percent of all new recruits and 85 percent of serving officers worked in departments that were providing some community policing training. Smaller agencies with fewer officers were less likely to provide specialized training, especially in cities of less than 50,000. Because those agencies are numerous, in 1999
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106 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING only about 41 percent of all departments reported providing community policing training for all of their new recruits, and only 28 percent provided it for all of their serving officers (Hickman and Reaves, 2001). There are a number of unanswered questions about the adoption and staffing of community policing programs around the country. Whether po- lice departments will continue to expand and staff these projects in the absence of federal support remains an open question, as is whether local governments will continue to invest in new technologies for policing. Even where there is such a commitment, implementing an effective program also can prove difficult, for adopting community policing can involve significant structural changes in departments and a reorientation of their basic mis- sion, as well as asking officers and their supervisors to think and act in new and unaccustomed ways. Roth et al. (1999) and others have observed that many agencies continue to define community policing only by the list of projects or programs that they have under way. In an earlier study, Wycoff and Skogan (1993) found that only about one-third of departments thought that structural changes were necessary to do community policing. Assessments of the adoption of policing innovations of all kinds are limited by the inadequate measurement of the structure and functioning of American departments. All of the studies cited above made extensive use of data from questionnaires distributed to police departments by mail or con- ducted by telephone. As such, a single informant who completed the survey served to represent events and processes affecting an entire organization. Studies of the reliability and validity of such studies indicate that the results can be highly contingent on who is given responsibility for representing the agency and where they are positioned in the organization. For example, multiple informants answering questions about the same police department have been demonstrated to disagree significantly on such questions as whether and when their agency adopted a policy on domestic violence and about their stock of equipment (Weiss, 1997). Finally, many are uncertain whether community policing can live up to its promises. Like many new programs, its adoption in many instances pre- ceded careful evaluation of its consequences. The effectiveness of commu- nity policing has been the subject of some research, ranging from its impact on crime to how openly it is embraced by the officers charged with carrying it out. The findings of this research are evaluated along with other policing strategies in Chapter 6. RESEARCH RECOMMENDATIONS Policing is a highly complex enterprise in terms of the structure and governance of police agencies, the roles and responsibilities of the police, and the factors that influence policing. Because of this complexity, policy
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THE NATURE OF POLICING IN THE UNITED STATES 107 makers should not expect dramatic changes in policing from any single policy or innovation. Given the decentralized structure of policing, whereby control is exercised by local units of government, there is no central con- trolling authority capable of implementing any single policy change. Nor would a policy change in one area of police responsibilities necessarily af- fect performance in other areas. In a time of rapid innovation in the fragmented and complex world of the policing industry, it is invaluable to monitor the pulse of policing in the United States. The committee recommends that the Bureau of Justice Statis- tics continue to conduct an enhanced, yearly version of its current Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey. Ongoing support for the survey, which began in 1987, has recently been supplemented by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and the committee recommends that this extensive and now yearly survey be continued. The research utility of the survey would be enhanced by ensur- ing that a panel of consistently surveyed agencies be maintained within the framework of the survey sample. The committee notes that other re- search projects have come to rely on the results of the BJS Agency Directory Survey of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which forms the basis for the LEMAS sample, and recommends that they improve and update its cover- age on a regular basis. After reviewing methodological research on agency surveys like LEMAS, the committee recommends that the Bureau of Justice Statistics conduct a special study of the validity of responses to the survey and experiment with methods to ensure accurate reporting of agency characteristics. Although several federal agencies are charged with encouraging inno- vation in law enforcement, the committee finds that little is known about the innovation process or how it can be facilitated. The committee recom- mends a special study of innovation processes in policing, one that is designed to include factors that can be influenced by federal and state governments. There appears to have been tremendous growth in the private security sector in America, but the committee was unable to identify any reliable indicators of its size or operating characteristics. The committee recom- mends a special study of the dimensions of the private security industry, and that the Current Population Survey be used to secure an estimate of the size and characteristics of the labor force in this sector. The committee recommends the launching of a periodic national sur- vey to gauge the extent and nature of police-public contacts and public assessments of the quality of police service in their community. Method- ological testing should be conducted to maximize the accuracy with which public encounters with the police can be recalled and profiles of those en- counters can be drawn. The survey should be large enough to account for
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108 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING both traffic and other kinds of encounters, including pedestrian stops. The survey should include measures of subjective assessments of the quality of those encounters. In addition, the survey should be the vehicle for gathering attitudinal data from a general sample of adults (including young adults) concerning the performance of police serving their immediate communities.
Representative terms from entire chapter: