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Making Every Encounter Count: Building Trust and Confidence in the Police

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Issue: 256 Dated: 2007 Pages: 8-11
Date Published
January 2007
4 pages
Publication Series
This article presents the findings of five projects funded by the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) that explored factors related to citizen satisfaction with the police.
The findings of these studies indicate that citizen satisfaction with the police is shaped by demographic variables, neighborhood crime conditions, and experiences with the police (whether firsthand or indirect). The findings suggest that the first step in building good relations with the community is to analyze and respond to citizens' expectations of police across a range of types of police-citizen encounters. Race was not found to be a direct factor in citizen satisfaction with police. Due to its correlation with other demographic variables, neighborhood crime rates, and experiences with police, race was an indirect influence on the level of satisfaction with police. When people form opinions about the police based on their interactions with them, citizens tend to focus on the quality of the interaction process more than the outcome. This pertains to the officer's demeanor, clarity of communication, respectfulness, and fairness. Citizen's currently held attitudes toward police were found to play a critical role in determining their judgments about police in subsequent interactions with police. 11 notes

Date Published: January 1, 2007