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Policing Neighborhoods: A Report From Indianapolis

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 1998
2 pages
Publication Series
In the summer of 1996, trained observers accompanied police patrol officers in 12 of 50 police beats in Indianapolis to assess police officer interaction with communities and the effect of this interaction on the quality of neighborhood life.
Researchers interviewed more than 95 percent of police patrol officers, 93 percent of supervisors, and more than 1,200 randomly selected residents of the 12 neighborhoods. It was found that about 25 percent of police officer time was spent in encounters with the public. Police-initiated encounters with the public outnumbered those resulting from a dispatched assignment. Most police contacts were not with suspects but rather with citizens who sought police assistance or from whom police sought assistance. Police and citizens showed high levels of cooperation during encounters. Virtually all police officers agreed that assisting citizens was as important as enforcing the law, but more than 80 percent said enforcing the law was by far a patrol officer's most important responsibility. In addition, most police officers gave high priority to handling service calls, long a hallmark of traditional, reactive policing. More than 40 percent rated seizing drugs, guns, and other contraband among their highest priorities. Lower priorities included reducing citizen fear of crime, reducing public disorder, encouraging public involvement in neighborhood improvements, making arrests, and issuing citations. Police officers serving particular beats tended to rate a range of neighborhood problems as more severe than did residents. About half of citizens rated police officers as excellent or good in working with residents to solve problems, with lower ratings in neighborhoods characterized by higher distress; 77 percent of citizens were very or somewhat satisfied with police services. Future issues associated with problem-oriented policing in Indianapolis are noted.

Date Published: July 1, 1998