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Effect of Victimization and the Police Response on Citizens' Attitudes Toward Police

NCJ Number
Journal of Police Science and Administration Volume: 12 Issue: 3 Dated: (September 1984) Pages: 323-332
R J Homant; D B Kennedy; R M Fleming
Date Published
10 pages
Police can reduce negative citizen attitudes toward police derived from victimization by providing crime prevention counseling for citizens.
Study data came from questionnaires mailed to 300 Detroit-area households which had experienced a residential burglary between October 1981 and March 1982 and to 300 matched control households. Completed questionnaires came from 70 victims and 73 control subjects. Nonvictims had more favorable attitudes toward the police than did victims. The manner of police followup after a burglary was an important determinant of the changes in victims' attitudes. Victims who received a crime prevention survey had a much more favorable attitude toward the police than did victims without such a survey, although the survey did not totally counteract the effect of victimization on attitudes toward the police. Police departments should recognize that victimizations represent more than a crime problem; they also represent a community relations problem for the police. Officers responding to victims should be alert to indications that the police are being blamed for allowing the crime to happen. The crime prevention survey may produce an increased perception of the police as helpless, but this is not necessarily an undesirable outcome. Overall satisfaction with the police is likely to rebound to the previctimization level. Data tables and a list of 28 references are supplied.