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First-Response Police Officers Working in Single Person Patrols: A Literature Review

NCJ Number
Jessica Anderson; Kym Dossetor
Date Published
72 pages
This report presents a literature review on the issues of single-person police patrols both in Australia and internationally.
The literature review had four objectives. First, it determined what challenges are faced by first-response police officers who are on single-officer patrol. Second, it examined the impact that working alone has on an officer's ability to perform his/her duties. Third, it examined how decisions are made in the deployment of singe-officer patrols. Fourth, it determined whether single-officer patrol strategies meet community expectations for police performance. The challenges that face single-officer patrols pertain to changes in policing philosophy and community environment, as well as changes in crime rates and types of offenders. Regarding the impact of working alone on officers' ability to perform their duties, researchers in Australia and the United States have not found any statistical difference in injuries and deaths between single-officer and two-officer patrols. Regarding effectiveness and efficiency, single-officer patrols constitute a more efficient use of personnel resources in responding to calls for service, and research indicates that overall activity levels were comparable for one-officer and two-officer patrols. Australian research has identified a preference for two-person patrols among officers, and officers who perceived increased dangers in single-officer patrols tended to experience more stress in their work, which undermines morale and positive work attitudes. Occupational health and safety concerns led to the abolition of single-officer patrols in Western Australia. Australian research has shown that the deployment of single-officer patrols relies on the judgment of the dispatching personnel; however conditions also determine when one-officer patrols were tasked. These conditions include time of day, population density, and risk assessment according to patrol jurisdiction. Regarding community expectations, the quality of police interaction with citizens rather than the mode of patrol are apparently more relevant in improving people's satisfaction with police performance. 6 figures, 5 tables, and approximately 120 references