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1 Introduction I n 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 Jus- tice, which has sponsored a substantial body of research on police practices. 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 also included a mandate to evaluate policing programs already under way or to be sponsored by funds from the legislation itself. As part of the U.S. Department of Justice's considerable investment in law enforcement practice and research under the 1994 crime act, the Na- tional Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Community Oriented Policing Ser- vices Office (COPS), both within the Department of Justice, asked the Na- tional Research Council to establish the Committee to Review Research on Police Policy and Practices. The committee was asked to assess police re- search and its influence on policing, as well as the influence and operation of the community policing philosophy. The committee was charged with four specific tasks: · Develop an analytic framework for reviewing existing research on police operations and practices, to identify factors that contribute to crime prevention or reduction, public safety, and police service quality. · Identify other factors influencing crime, public safety and commu- nity satisfaction with policing services, and how they interact with policing practices to influence the impact of policing on the community. 11
12 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING · Identify mechanisms for accelerating the diffusion and institutional- ization of innovation in police organizations, to facilitate the adoption of scientifically supported policing strategies, tactics and technologies. · Describe shortcomings or gaps in research on the topics identified in these reviews, and summarize them in a detailed agenda for future research. In the course of our two-year study, the committee considered many aspects of police research and how to best organize our review and conclu- sions. We also set some boundaries. The committee examined police re- search done primarily since 1968, including that sponsored by the 1994 crime act. Since the vast bulk of research is devoted to local law enforce- ment agencies serving communities located in metropolitan areas, the com- mittee made an early decision to focus its attention on these departments. Research on foreign police is reviewed only to the extent that it informs specific topics in U.S. policing. Since the influence of technology on law enforcement practice has not been the subject of much social science re- search--which is the focus of this report--the committee could only trace the increasing technological capacities of the police, rather than draw con- clusions about the nature of its effects. The committee also wrote this re- port with multiple audiences in mind: policy makers, police practitioners, scholars, and other interested readers. Thus in addition to operating under constraints of existing research, we have attempted to address the com- bined interests of these communities without elevating one over the other. No single audience, therefore, will find all the answers to all of their most immediate questions. The committee compensates for whatever is lost by this multiple service by the insights derived from drawing connections among these communities. SCOPE AND THEMES OF THE REPORT The committee developed an analytic framework for organizing polic- ing research that embodies the mandate to effectively control crime and ensure justice. The police are called to prevent crime and disorder and to bring to account those who do not comply, and these goals have shaped their organization and activities. But the public also expects the police to conduct themselves in an impartial manner, producing justice through the fair, effective, and restrained use of their authority. The standards by which police success in meeting these dual expectations is judged have become more exacting and challenging, and police agencies today must find ways to respond in an effective, affordable, and legitimate way. This dual man- date forms the cornerstone of this report. Much of the committee's analy- sis focuses on the evaluation of police operations in light of these two dimensions.
INTRODUCTION 13 In reviewing this body of research, the committee was impressed by the record of growing police openness to research on all aspects of their work. This can serve as an example for all institutions responsible for public safety. Police have been far more willing to accept the use of advanced scientific methods in program evaluation, such as randomized controlled trials, than have other parts of the criminal justice system. Agencies have also been willing to allow systematic observation studies of how police interact with citizens in various situations. They have been remarkably willing to let schol- ars investigate highly sensitive issues, such as use of force and even police misconduct. The community is vitally interested in the quality of policing, and there has been an impressive amount of research on citizen involvement in policing and public safety issues. However, despite this support by prac- titioners and the community, 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 whatsoever. Each chapter of the report identifies research priorities, and among our recommendations we call for greater willingness by federal research agen- cies to take advantage of the research opportunities presented by police departments across the country. PLAN OF THE REPORT State of Research on Policing Following this introduction, Chapter 2 provides a broad overview of the development of police research. It focuses on studies that examine how American policing actually works, most of which have appeared since 1967. Early police studies arose out of concern with the fairness and lawfulness of police actions. They documented the enormous discretion enjoyed by offic- ers on the street and the racially discriminatory way in which many deci- sions were made. The next generation of studies began the tradition of contrasting the impact of legal and extralegal factors on officer behavior, reflecting a growing understanding of the complexities of street-level polic- ing. More recent work in this tradition has focused on a narrower topic, the use of deadly force by the police. It has demonstrated the important influ- ence of department policies and leadership on the rate at which citizens are killed. More recently, the issue of racial profiling sparked new interest by the public in the implications of this research. New research examines the effectiveness of civilian review and other administrative mechanisms for dealing with abuse of police authority. While fairness and lawfulness remained key issues in policing, many researchers turned their attention to other issues during the late 1970s and 1980s. Work in the field increasingly focused on the effectiveness of the
14 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING standard strategies of policing, ranging from random patrol to criminal investigations, at reducing crime. The conclusions of this research were also critical, for it appeared that many elements of the standard policing reper- toire--including random motorized patrol, rapid response to calls for ser- vice, follow-up investigations by detectives, and unfocused enforcement ef- forts--were of limited effectiveness. A notable feature of this work is the surprisingly limited role for replication studies: many of the most important lessons of research on police effectiveness depend to this day on the conclu- sions of one or a few now-dated studies. The end of the 1980s brought a new focus on the intersection between police and communities. The advent of problem-oriented and community policing heralded new attention to community-based crime prevention. Ear- lier, the concept of "co-production" had been coined to describe the depen- dence of the police on public support and involvement in their efforts to secure neighborhood safety, and this became the focus of new research. The committee notes, however, that research on the police has contributed little to the understanding of their role in the precipitous drop in crime that took place during the 1990s, despite the many claims that are made about it. Chapter 2 also describes the growing methodological sophistication of police research. Individual ethnographic research has been overshadowed by larger scale systematic observational studies; statistical studies now typi- cally employ sophisticated econometric techniques; experimental designs are used whenever possible, to increase the ability to make causal inferences in field settings; and large-scale surveys are routinely used to collect data about individuals and organizations. Organization of American Policing Chapter 3 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. There is a substantial, and growing, private policing component as well. While all of this is consistent with America's democratic tradition, it limits the ability of the federal gov- ernment 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 within this decentralized system. And fragmentation of the police industry may hinder the development of coordinated responses to domestic antiterrorism efforts, although there is almost no research on this topic at present. At the street level, policing is highly discretionary, and individual offic- ers work virtually without direct supervision. As a result, police depart- ments are highly dependent on personnel arrangements--how they recruit,
INTRODUCTION 15 train, motivate and promote officers--to achieve their goals. The commit- tee found that research on the effectiveness of all of these practices is quite limited. The highly discretionary nature of police work increases the difficulty of ensuring the fairness and lawfulness of everyday policing. Police are au- thorized to exercise their authority in encounters with the public, by issuing citations, making arrests, using physical force, and sometimes employing lethal force. While most encounters are trouble-free, the sheer volume of police-citizen contact means that a large number of individual citizens come away dissatisfied with how they were treated. There is also evidence of racial and ethnic disparities in these assessments, as well as in public opin- ion 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 little research has been conducted on these matters. Most research on detectives is dated, but the committee's review of it seriously challenges the idea that one can substantially im- prove the capacity of the police to solve individual crimes. Traffic enforce- ment commands significant police resources, but it too has escaped the attention of researchers. The emergence of racial profiling on the nation's public agenda is changing that, but the committee concluded 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 Chapters 4 and 5 assess 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 the work of patrol officers, thus excluding many impor- tant elements of police work. The committee divided research on the determinants of police behavior into analytic categories. Chapter 4 examines the impact of situational fac- tors, the background of citizens they encounter, and officers' characteristics on police work. Situational factors include features of the incident itself, the demeanor of suspects, and their immediate context. Many studies of offic- ers engaged in encounters with citizens contrast the impact of "legally rel- evant" factors with the influence of extralegal factors in shaping their on-
16 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING 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. Research finds that the impact of legally relevant factors is strong. Taking these into account, the evidence is mixed that the social class and gender of suspects play a role, and their effect may be small. The evidence is also mixed about the impact of suspects' demeanor on their eventual treatment. There is widespread concern about the differ- ential treatment of citizens based on their race, and more research is needed on the complex interplay of race, demeanor, context, and other social fac- tors in police-citizen interactions. Police handling of the mentally ill has been the subject of some research, but more is needed. Among the officer characteristics, neither race nor gender has a direct influence on the outcome of routine police-citizen encounters, and there is no clear effect of officer's attitudes, job satisfaction, or personality. While there has been much discussion of the impact of police culture on officer behavior, there is no rigorous evidence regarding its influence. The commit- tee found that research on factors linked to officer recruitment and training is surprisingly limited. There are few studies of the link between an officer's knowledge, skill, ability, or intelligence and actual police practice. There is no strong research support for police education requirements, and research on the effects of training on officer effectiveness is unconvincing. Recruit- ment and training are among the most important activities of police organi- zations, and more needs to be known about their role in ensuring effective and lawful police conduct. Chapter 5 examines the impact of organizational, community, and gov- ernmental factors on the police. The decisions and actions of officers are situated 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 the individuals who fill them. Research indicates, for example, that the policies and practices of police departments directly affect the rate at which both deadly and nonlethal force is used by officers. Ar- rests, citation rates, and measures of success in solving cases vary greatly across police organizations, as do the rate at which citizen's complaints are filed. Research demonstrates that these reflect in part differences in the size, centralization, specialization, and hierarchical structure of agencies, the for- mality of their policies regarding the use of force and other key aspects of police work, and the extent to which they have taken a geographic focus. We review the limited systematic research on "CompStat" style account- ability systems, and call for further investigation of this new management philosophy. Likewise, neighborhood and city-level factors affect both the decisions of individual police officers and the features of their departments. Police- citizen encounters occur in a neighborhood context that seems to indepen-
INTRODUCTION 17 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 will support are locally determined matters that are affected by a range of political, economic, and crime fac- tors. Local political cultures and the priorities of political leaders affect policies and spending levels as well. The police are importantly affected by the policies and practices of other parts of the criminal justice system, as well as by state and local legislation. The chapter also examines the influ- ence of the federal government in two key police areas, the handling of civil protests and responding to terrorism. Chapter 5 notes that important aspects of police work, indeed activities that often consume the majority of their time, are not captured by current data systems. It calls for the development of measures of informal applica- tions of police authority, service and assistance delivered to citizens, mobi- lizing and working with the community, and problem solving. This could be accomplished as part of the tremendous expansion of the technological capacity of police to gather, analyze, and disseminate information, which also requires careful evaluation. Crime Control Effectiveness Chapter 6 addresses research on police effectiveness at reducing crime, disorder, and fear. There has been a great deal of research on these topics, and the committee has distinguished between studies that employed ad- equate methods for studying them and others about which there is less confidence. The committee concludes that contemporary policing has relied on an operating model emphasizing reactive strategies to suppress crime. Many aspects of the "standard model" of policing are not particularly effective, despite their prominence. The standard model is defined by the more or less across-the-board reliance on random patrol, rapid response to calls for ser- vice, follow-up investigations by detectives, and unfocused enforcement ef- forts. 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. In contrast, there is strong research evidence that the more focused and specific the strategies of the police, and the more they are tailored to the problems they seek to address, the more effective the police will be in con- trolling crime and disorder. Research on police effectiveness in attacking chronic concentrations of crime--widely known as "hot spots"--has found that well-managed investigations and crackdowns can suppress crime, deter its future reappearance, and avoid simply displacing a similar number of crimes elsewhere. Discovering hot spots and tracking the effectiveness of
18 FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS IN POLICING policing efforts against them have been facilitated by the widespread adop- tion of new computer mapping and crime analysis technologies by the po- lice, another new development awaiting careful evaluation and analysis. The committee reviewed evidence of the effectiveness of two widely discussed alternatives to the standard model of policing: problem-oriented policing and community policing. Problem-oriented policing stands in sharp contrast to the standard model because of its focus on developing highly localized responses to the diverse problems that plague different communities. Community policing always involves some form of public involvement, frequently in the identification of priority problems and of- ten with some role for the community and for city service agencies in help- ing solve them. It also involves adopting a problem-solving stance that emphasizes developing local solutions to locally identified problems. Both are examples of what the report dubs "tailored" responses to crime and disorder. Both seek to look beyond the traditional exercise of the law en- forcement powers of the police to reduce crime, disorder, and fear. Our review suggests that such approaches have promise and should be the sub- ject of more systematic investigation. Lawfulness and Legitimacy Chapters 7 and 8 turn to research on the criteria by which society makes judgments about the police: their lawfulness--that is, police compliance with constitutional, statutory, and professional norms--and their legiti- macy--defined by the public's beliefs about the police and their willingness to recognize police authority. Many controversies in policing reflect these broad concerns; the recent crisis regarding racial profiling is only the most recent example of the challenge police agencies face in balancing the de- mands of effective crime control, lawfulness, and legitimacy. Research in this area includes studies of the implementation and impact of court deci- sions and administrative policies on police behavior in the field, as well as 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 off excessive and deadly force. Their compliance has been found to be variable, but it can be enhanced by 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 leader- ship, enforcement of department policies and rules, and the creation of new mechanisms for monitoring problem behavior. Research is limited on the impact of formal legal efforts to control misconduct, through criminal pros-
INTRODUCTION 19 ecution 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 oversight bodies and review commissions that have been created to impose external accountabil- ity on the police. Evidence from policing research contradicts any concern that an em- phasis on policing that is fair and restrained will necessarily undermine their crime control effectiveness, and vice versa, for fairness and effective- ness are not mutually exclusive, but mutually reinforcing. The work of this committee suggests that policing that is perceived as fair is more effective in fostering a law-abiding society, and success in reducing crime enhances police legitimacy. In the committee's view, the more lawful the police are, the more likely the public is to embrace their actions and their outcomes. Lawful policing increases the stature of the police in the eyes of citizens, creates a reservoir of support for police work, and expedites 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 is impartial and being fairly administered. The conduct of the police, the most visible representative of law and government in most citi- zens' lives, can heavily influence the strength of that judgment. This suggests the need to extend theories of police effectiveness beyond the com- munication of a deterrent threat of punishment to encompass police en- gagement with communities. Future of Police Research Chapter 9 discusses the future of police research, places it in the context of emerging federal policy that can be expected to guide it, and summarizes the committee's major recommendations. The real test of any program of research is what it accomplishes. This report identifies many lines of re- search aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of police in pursuing their dual mandate to control crime and ensure justice. Police chiefs, communities, police, and crime victims all need to know more about these issues. What has been accomplished thus far demonstrates the importance of research on policing. What will be accomplished in the future depends heavily on the priority the federal government places on fair and effective policing.