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Evaluating Community Policing (From Evaluating Community Policing, P 149-166, 2003, Tom Van den Broeck, Christian Eliaerts, eds., -- See NCJ-203040)

NCJ Number
Kees Van der Vijver
Date Published
18 pages
This article discusses the difficulties in police evaluation and a model for evaluating the effects of community policing.
Police evaluation has always been a difficult job. The effectiveness of policing is too hard to prove. There are many reasons for this. It is difficult to manipulate the level of crime. There is a problem of measurement--only internal information is used to determine effects. The goals that should be reached are not clearly defined. Due to these problems, the criteria to evaluate police work often shift. Community policing is different from traditional police work and its evaluation must be discussed separately. Community policing is an essential element of policing and is characterized by three elements: geographical, proximity, and commitment. The role of the police has two opposing elements. The public wants harsh strategies by the police and they want supportive behavior of the police. Police work is loaded with paradoxes and dilemmas, which have to be taken into account when evaluation takes place. The complexity of policing will grow in the future. An evaluation study in the Netherlands showed that victimization, fear of crime, and problems in the neighborhood behavior improved after the implementation of community policing. Community policing evaluation should be different than traditional policing evaluation. Traditional police culture is action-oriented and about fighting crime; community policing is about solving problems, prevention, support, and presence. Traditional police officers usually have a critical attitude toward citizens; community policing presupposes a cooperative attitude and responsible citizens. Community policing demands a social professionalism rather than a legal one, requiring different skills, training, and ways of judging the functioning of the police. Community policing can only work when responsibilities are given to the workers in the field. This requires a supportive management style. A three-level evaluation model includes (1) an internal evaluation among police personnel, (2) an external evaluation with a citizen survey, and (3) in-depth interviews with key persons in local society. 51 references