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Impact of Community Policing Training and Program Implementation on Police Personnel

NCJ Number
Robin N. Haarr Ph.D.
Date Published
November 2000
216 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of a study that examined the impact of basic training, field training, and work environment on police recruits' attitudes toward policing in general and particularly community policing, problemsolving policing, and cultural sensitivity.
The study was conducted in cooperation with the Phoenix Regional Police Training Academy and 25 police agencies across Arizona. In 1995 the Phoenix Regional Police Training Academy revised its basic training curriculum and implemented a 606.5-hour, 16-week basic training program that integrates community policing and problem-oriented policing across the curriculum. The impact of basic training on police recruits was examined by using a single-case study pretest-posttest design of a panel sample of 446 police recruits from 14 successive training academy classes that began between December 1995 and October 1996. Police recruits were pretested (Time 1) upon entering the academy. This determined police recruits' baseline measures of job involvement, job satisfaction, and attitudes and beliefs about traditional policing strategies, community policing methods and philosophies, problem-solving techniques, the importance of building positive police-public relations, and multicultural awareness and skills. A 16-week period elapsed between the pretest and the first posttest (Time 2), which was conducted during the final 3 days of the basic training academy. A total of 446 recruits from the original panel completed the Time 2 posttest survey. Since continued assessment throughout the field training and occupational socialization processes were an essential part of the research design, a second posttest (Time 3) was conducted 12 weeks after the first posttest at or near the end of the recruits' field training process. Generally, the findings showed that the Training Academy had a positive impact on police recruits' attitudes regarding community policing and problem-oriented policing, as well as the development of police recruits' sense of capability at engaging in problem-solving activities and assessing the needs of diverse groups of citizens. At the same time, the academy had a positive impact on shaping police recruits' support for traditional policing. Field training generally failed to reinforce the positive impact of the academy training on police recruits' attitudes toward community policing, problem-solving policing, and cultural sensitivity; in fact, it had a negative impact on such attitudes. This study advised that training in support of community policing must begin with the development of awareness of its principles and practices, and this was where the academy should continue to focus; however, principles taught in the academy must be coupled with police practices that reflected what the academy was teaching. This requires that field training officers know what the academy is teaching and apply these training principles in practice, such that the recruit finds that what has been learned in the academy is being practiced in the field. Such continuity in training is most likely to develop the cognitive systems that result in attitudes, values, and beliefs consistent with community policing. Extensive tables, 61 references, and appended study instruments