Perhaps the oldest tradition in policing, foot patrol is widely used by many agencies and has become a topic of renewed discussion as law enforcement leaders contemplate how to improve community engagement, partnership, and trust. With this renewed focus comes the need for practical guidance on how agencies can and should implement a foot patrol strategy that is both effective in reducing crime and disorder and beneficial to agency relationships with the community. To address this need, the Police Foundation, with the support of the Charles Koch Foundation, conducted a series of case studies on police use of foot patrol to develop a practical guide for police agencies, officers, and executives on how to effectively implement an evidence-based foot patrol strategy. With its early involvement in foot patrol research and its mission of improving policing through science and innovation, the Police Foundation was uniquely suited for this task.
After a review of the extant research on foot patrol, the Police Foundation identified five law enforcement agencies that have committed to a foot patrol strategy with specified goals, dedicated foot patrol personnel, targeted deployment areas, and an emphasis on community engagement. Site visits were then conducted at each agency to observe the foot patrols and to conduct interviews and data collection with officers, supervisors, and members of the community.
The most important finding of the study was that foot patrol facilitated relationship-building between officers and members of the community. Improved relations with the community subsequently enhanced the enforcement and problem-solving capability of the officers and also changed how the officers were viewed by the community. However, researchers found that agencies can face a number of challenges when deploying foot patrol officers, such as resource constraints, identifying appropriate performance measures for officers, and fostering internal acceptance for community engagement activities performed by foot patrol officers.
The report, entitled Engaging Communities One Step at a Time, is available for download here.
Vice President, Strategic Initiatives
Foot patrol, implementation, community engagement, crime and disorder, evidence-based, community, police, problem-oriented policing, partnership, practical, strategy, strategies, trust