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Performance Measures for Evaluating One vs Two Officer Cars

NCJ Number
R C Larson; T F Rich
Date Published
84 pages
Quantitative models based on performance measures should be used explicitly in the negotiations about the use of one-officer and two-officer cars in police patrol operations.
The four parties to the debate over how to use the two types of cars are police management, police patrol unions, city management, and citizens. Diagrams that show the interactions among staffing levels, performance measures, and operating policies are useful for conceptualizing the negotiations process. To use this conceptual approach, however, it is necessary to have precisely defined measures that accurately represent the concerns of everyone involved in the debate. A national survey conducted in 1983 elicited these concerns and the related performance factors. The survey reached police agencies that used combinations of one-officer and two-officer cars. Responses came from 187 cities and 44 counties. The main advantages of one-officer cars were reported to be increased patrol coverage and visibility, greater flexibility in deployment, faster response time, more efficient use of staff, greater alertness of officers, and cost-effectiveness. Disadvantages listed included logistical complications, higher costs, and perceptions of reduced officer safety. However, the use of simple mathematical analysis shows that changing to one-officer cars adds only about 2 percent to costs. The performance improvements all appear to be of much greater magnitude. Thus, some beliefs about patrol cars are not valid. Figures, data tables, and appended survey instrument and summary of results.