This report presents the methodology and findings from a national survey of police public information officers (PIO's) and media personnel in large cities, so as to determine how police agencies are promoting community policing in the news media.
The study involved national surveys of PIO's (n=203) and news personnel (n=420). The law enforcement survey focused on the strategies used to market police departments in the news, the personnel responsible for this marketing, how receptive the news media were to these strategies, what could be done to increase effectiveness in these areas, and general perceptions of the media's coverage of crime. The media survey addressed the police sources relied on for crime information, their perceptions of their relationship with the police, the amount and type of coverage of community policing, and what could be done to improve police-media relationships and increase coverage of community policing. Overall, the findings indicated that the relationship between police organizations and media organizations was typically accommodating, cooperative, and mutually supportive. Almost all of the police agencies relied primarily on PIO's to disseminate information about the department. PIO's had considerable access to the major media outlets within a city. The most important factor in how the media viewed the quality of their relationship with the police was accessibility to police data and police personnel. PIO responses to the survey indicated that they had very little time to promote community policing initiatives, since most of their time was spent providing the media information on specific crime incidents. Police agencies tended to assign the task of promoting community policing to officers other than PIO's. Although police agencies had not made significant efforts to promote community policing through the news media, the news media were very accommodating when police requested coverage for a community-policing activity. Overall, however, community policing had been a low-priority news topic. The recommendations based on these findings are that police agencies should devise and implement broad marketing strategies to increase public awareness and involvement in community policing activities; increase the number of personnel and the amount of funding devoted to marketing community policing in the news and in the community; include strategies for marketing community policing in police training curricula; and evaluate whether a broad marketing strategy is effective. Extensive tabular data, 19 references, and appended questionnaires
Date Published: January 1, 2001