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From the Archive

Police Corruption: A perspective on its nature and control

This week's From the Archive is a monograph that sought to define and describe the problem of police corruption for administrators and persuade them to take a more concrete role in developing effective ways of combating the problem.

“Failure to discuss corruption openly has permitted it to flourish. A dearth of research on the subject handicaps police administrators, elected officials, journalists and citizens anxious to address the problem of corruption.”

This report does not make suggestions about how to stop corruption. Instead police administrators are encouraged to create their own programs and policies based on the information detailed in this report. Many questions were left unanswered with the hope that police organizations would conduct their own research to address the problem of corruption.

To download the full article click here.

The Big Six: Policing America's Largest Cities

This installment of From the Archive is a 1991 report comparing the "Big Six" U.S. police departments. The Big Six cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Detroit) differed in size, age, and personality; however, they shared the same problems of crime, drugs, and urban decay. Although the police departments in each of these cities faced similar challenges, they knew little about each other’s department. The Police Foundation sought to address this gap by creating a questionnaire for each department that would obtain a large amount of comparative information about policies and operations of the six agencies.

A representative from each agency came to the Police Foundation to create a common vocabulary around policing and to discuss differing views on conditions and practices in police organizations.

This study found that these six cities differed greatly on many fronts, including number of arrests for violent crimes, selection and entry requirements, and police vehicle accidents.

To download the full article click here.

Mutual Aid: Multijurisdictional Partnerships for Meeting Regional Threats

This week’s From the Archive addresses the issue of multijurisdictional partnerships. Through surveys and roundtable discussions with police chiefs this report exposed critical areas that could assist law enforcement leaders in managing new issues faced in policing post-9/11. One of the areas was the use of mutual aid agreements and multijurisdictional partnerships. Today, mutual aid agreements are used regionally to address domestic and international threats, such as terrorism. Greater collaboration has the potential to increase the effectiveness of preventing future attacks.

Creating effective mutual aid agreements is a difficult task; it requires detailed planning and outlining participation requirements, assessing vulnerabilities inherent with such an agreement, establishing oversight, and conducting training and promoting funding for this collaborative approach.

To address these factors, the Police Foundation highlighted key efforts by regions across the nation to work in these cooperative partnerships across jurisdictions. Law enforcement agencies should consider studying these cases to understand how to partner with regional agencies effectively to address terrorism prevention, preparedness, and response.

To download the full article click here.

Patrol Staffing in San Diego One- or Two-Officer Units

This week's From the Archive is an early study on the impact of one- versus two-officer patrol units. The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) and the Police Foundation worked together to determine if there were any differences between one-officer and two-officer patrol units. Key metrics evaluated by the study included:

  • Unit performance- the type, quantity, and quality of services performed.
  • Unit efficiency- the unit time and cost associated with comparable levels of performance.
  • Officer safety- the rates of assaults on officers, resisting arrest situations, vehicle accidents, and officer injuries resulting from comparable levels of exposure.
  • Officer attitudes- the preferences and opinions of assigned patrol officers.

Results suggested that two-officer units produced lower levels of service, were less efficient, and were less safe than comparison one-officer units. The authors concluded, “On the basis of this study, two-officer regular patrol units do not appear to be justified in San Diego. Separate comparisons of unit performance, efficiency, and officer safety under current conditions all suggest that one-officer units are at least equal to and often more advantageous than two-officer units”.

To download the full article click here.

The San Diego Field Interrogation Final Report

This week's From the Archive highlights early work conducted by the Police Foundation on the method and impact of field interrogations. This study was part of the Police Foundation’s initiative to promote the use of scientific experiments in police agencies and to show police chiefs how useful experiments can be to improve police practices. The Police Foundation started with the assumption that police officers should be more proactive, rather than reactive, to reduce crime rates in their communities. To evaluate the effectiveness of proactive practices, the Police Foundation sponsored the San Diego Police Department’s Field Interrogation Project. The goal was to determine if field interrogations (FI) could suppressible crime and have a positive impact on the community.

Geographic areas were assigned to three treatment conditions: (1) FIs conducted as business as usual, (2) FIs conducted by patrol officers given special training to "minimize friction between the department and the public", and (3) no FI activity.

Findings suggested:

  1. In the no-FI areas, suppressible crimes (defined as robbery, burglary, grand theft, petty theft, auto theft, assault/battery, sex crimes, and malicious mischief / disturbances) increased during the time when no FIs were being conducted. Incidents declined once FIs were reinstated.
  2. Monthly frequency of suppressible crimes did not differ between the regular FI or special FI areas.
  3. It was not possible to determine which suppressible crimes were most effected by the treatment conditions.
  4. Neither the frequency of FIs nor the type of FI training given to patrol officers had a major influence on the attitudes and opinions of San Diego citizens about police activity. However, subjects of FIs were more positive about the police when stopped by officers that had received the special training.

To download the full article click here.

A Progress Report on Women in Policing

This From the Archive report explored the extent to which women were being employed as sworn officers in state and municipal departments across the United States. Published in 1981, the purpose of the study was to analyze the effects of specific personnel practices designed to support full employment of women in policing. To this end, an effort was made to place the employment status of women in policing in its full historical and sociopolitical context.

The methodology used in this report included case studies and a national survey. From these two methods, the Police Foundation was able to address employment of women in many important areas of policing: eligibility, recruitment, selection ,rank, training, promotion, and assignment.

This report concludes that the greatest challenge for women in policing in the eighties was to overcome barriers to promotion and obtain a more significant proportion of supervisory and police-making positions in police departments.

The full article is available in our electronic library.

Controlling Street-level Drug Trafficking: Evidence from Oakland and Birmingham

From the Archive, this study used Oakland, CA and Birmingham, AL to test the effectiveness of several different policing models for controlling street-level drug trafficking. The study examines the model’s impact on the reduction of reported crimes as well as citizens’ perceptions of their own safety and the extent of crime in their neighborhoods. Data were obtained through multiple door-to-door interviews in both Oakland and Birmingham. The Police Foundation combined survey data with reported crime date to evaluate and analyze the different models of policing practices.

This Research in Brief highlights the study’s findings with an in-depth look at how large police departments are dealing with drug trafficking and drug-related crime. The study concluded that the new methods of policing left citizens believing that police were more effective than compared to other tactics. Furthermore, crime rates in the experimental neighborhoods decreased, particularly for violent crimes.

The full article is available at the link.

From the Archives- Police Personnel Exchange Programs

Police agencies are insular by nature. Personnel within an agency tend to execute their jobs the way the it has always been executed and the structure and organization of an agency remains stable over long periods of time. The limitations of this approach are obvious: police agencies cannot develop new practices and ways to execute their jobs if they do not incorporate new ideas. Police agencies can and should learn from other agencies.

Thus six chiefs of police from Northern California police departments worked with the Foundation to create an exchange program for officers. Past exchange programs were unstructured, too short, or based solely on observations and were not evaluated to test their effectiveness. This exchange program sought to change this. The program ran from September 1974 to March 1975.

Findings suggest...Click here to read more

From the Archives - Drug Enforcement in Public Housing

In this installment of From the Archive, we take a look at a 1993 study focused on crime in public housing. The sale of illegal drugs and other drug-related crimes is a highly visible and serious problem in public housing communities. The difficulties law enforcement officers face, including trying to gain the trust of those in public housing units and the fear produced by constant criminal activity, exacerbates the issue.

As a result, the City of Denver, CO created the Narcotics Enforcement in Public Housing Unit (NEPHU). The NEPHU worked to reduce the availability of drugs in 10 public housing development areas. The Police Foundation was contracted to evaluate the effectiveness of the NEPHU program in two Denver housing development areas.

The study found...Read more

From the Archive: Assessing Law Enforcement Ethics

Law enforcement officers confront situations that generate ethical dilemmas on a daily basis. Transgressions against ethical standards, whether legal or cultural, have the ability to undermine public confidence in the agency and the profession. In this 1996 study, the Oregon Department of State Police (OSP) took a proactive approach to understanding the prevailing ethical culture in their agency by conducting mail surveys (n=615) and telephone surveys (n=36) of sworn personnel.

Major findings included...Click here to continue reading.

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