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Public Response to Community Engagement Patrols in High Crime Areas

NCJ Number
Policing-an International Journal of Police Strategies & Management Volume: 42 Issue: 5 Dated: 2019 Pages: 917-930
Kimberly B. Kahn; Kris Henning; Greg Stewart; Brian C, Renauer; Christian Peterson; Renee J. Mitchell; Yves Labissiere; Sean Sothern
Date Published
14 pages
This article reports the findings and methodology of a program to improve residents' opinions of the police in Portland, Oregon.
Officers conducted community engagement patrols (CEPs) in 60 high-crime areas. The CEPs prioritized non-investigative contacts with community members to build trust and promote positive police-community interactions in designated high-crime locations. It was hypothesized that community members living in/near intervention sites would report greater exposure to officers, more positive interactions, and feel more positively about police than residents in control areas. A total of 90 crime hot spots were identified, using crime reports and calls for service. Locations were randomized into three groups: 2 CEPs/day (n=30), 4 CEPs/day (n=30), and control (i.e., no supplemental patrols, n=30). Officers were dispatched to treatment locations via the computer-aided dispatch system for 90 consecutive days, resulting in 16,200 scheduled CEPs. Surveys were mailed to 11,760 households immediately after the intervention ended, and 1,537 were returned (13.1 percent). Residents from intervention areas reported a higher number of positive police contacts; whereas contacts that residents perceived as negative did not differ between the three conditions. Community attitudes, including perceived police legitimacy, were generally unaffected by CEP dosage. The overall conclusion of the evaluation was that although the intervention succeeded in providing more opportunities for residents' positive contact with police, positive attitude change toward police may require longer term strategies. (publisher abstract modified)