This study used a multi-method approach in examining the implementation and effectiveness of three models of police consolidation: 1) merger of agencies; 2) regionalization, in which two or more agencies join to provide services in a broader area; and 3) contracting by municipalities with other organizations for police services.
The study conducted field visits, surveys of residents and police officers, and analysis of crime data in four communities that had consolidated their police services. The four communities were selected because of their variety in size; model of consolidation; region of the country; rates of crime; because their chiefs provided support for the project; and because their consolidations were sufficiently recent for the retention of administrative data prior to the consolidation, but old enough to have adequate post-consolidation data. The study examined the effects of consolidation on levels and clearances of crime, resident perceptions of consolidation, and staff perceptions of consolidation. Overall, this study found that consolidation contributes to reducing crime levels at reduced costs. It can also gain the support of residents and officers. Analysis of resident perceptions of the police under consolidation found that residents with more than a high-school education and who believed that the merged agency kept the community safe viewed the police as effective; however, homeowners and those concerned about police response times were less likely to view the police as effective. Blacks and Hispanics had less confidence in the police, as did crime victims. Officers were more likely to support consolidation if they perceived it as improving their community, their organization, or their working conditions. Communities that consider consolidation might consider which particular model is most likely to satisfy residents' and officers' needs.
Report (Grant Sponsored)
Date Published: January 1, 2018