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Alternate Measures of Police Output

NCJ Number
American Journal of Police Volume: 1 Issue: 1 Dated: (1981) Pages: 23-35
S H Decker
Date Published
13 pages
This study measures police productivity in crime control in 25 large American cities using combinations of reported crime, arrest, and victimization data to construct clearance rates, effectiveness rates, and detection rates.
Reported crime and arrest data for 1970 were obtained from FBI sources, and victimization data were derived from the Central Cities Sample of the National Crime Panel. These three measures, when combined, present a more accurate assessment of police crime control output levels and their correlates than prior examinations, which were restricted primarily to the use of official crime figures. The productivity measures constructed from data were clearance rate (the ratio of arrests to reported crime), effectiveness rate (the ratio of clearance to victimization), and detection rate (the ratio of reported crime to victimization). Productivity measures were computed for rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, property crime, and violent crime. The findings indicate that the police were most effective in dealing with violent crime. Overall, the two new measures used confirm that there is considerable underreporting of crime and that the police make arrests for a small percentage of all crimes. Such a combination of measures could lead to a standardization of measures across jurisdictions. Tabular data and 26 references are provided.