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Street-Level Policing in Cincinnati: The Content of Community and Traditional Policing and the Perceptions of Policing Audiences

NCJ Number
James Frank; Kenneth J. Novak; Brad W. Smith
Date Published
236 pages
This research examined several issues related to the implementation of community policing by a department (Cincinnati Police Department) that used a split-shift model in which community police officers were part of a specialized unit within the department.
The specific issues analyzed were how community policing was translated into practice, what community policing meant for the line officer, how citizens viewed community policing, how officers viewed community policing, how community policing impacted the delivery of police service, and how community policing impacted the decision-making of police officers. The research used 442 observations or "ride-alongs" that involved 131 different beat officers and 32 different community-policing officers. Observers coded information on 2,691 encounters between the police and the public. A total of 147 useable surveys of officers were completed, and 613 usable citizen surveys were obtained (53.3-percent response rate). Two activities, random motorized patrol and administrative tasks, were performed to a far greater extent than any other by community-oriented-policing (COP) officers and consumed approximately twice as much COP time as the next most frequent activity (personal time). Activities typically associated with COP philosophy (community-based service activities, problem-focused activities, meeting with service providers, and information gathering) consumed approximately 15 percent of the typical work day of neighborhood officers. Still, COP officers, compared to beat officers, devoted significantly more time to community-based services; problem-focused, information-gathering activities; meetings with other non-police service providers; administrative duties; and personal activities. Beat officers spent significantly more of their shifts interacting with citizens in the context of specific crime incidents, investigative activities, and traffic enforcement. Overall, COP officers engaged in almost two and one-half times as many casual encounters (encounters not directly related to police business) as beat officers. COP officers were less likely than beat officers to arrest a citizen. Overall, a majority of both types of officers had positive beliefs about the utility and usefulness of problem-solving, although COP officers reported higher levels of support. COP officers believed their job required them to be more creative, more deliberative in developing street-level policing strategies, and more involved in decision-making than beat officers. A high percentage of citizen respondents were aware of the community policing in their neighborhood, and almost 75 percent indicated they were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the police in their community; 65.6 percent were "satisfied" with police efforts in working with residents of the neighborhood to solve problems; 75 percent reported satisfaction with the job the police were doing to prevent crime in their neighborhoods. 29 tables, 5 figures, 120 references, and appended research instruments and codes