Community Policing and Changing Crime Rates: Does What Police Do Matter?
Beckman, Karen Anne
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Community policing is one of the most significant transformations in American policing (Maguire and King, 2004). While many assert that community policing played a significant role in the decline of national index crime over the last decade, research has yet to fully explore the contribution of community policing activities to aggregate crime trends (Eck and Maguire, 2001; GAO, 2005; Levitt, 2004; Zhao and Thurman, 2004). To fill this gap, this study assessed police involvement in eight community policing activities between 1997 and 2000. Focusing on subgroups of jurisdictions determined to be the most different on the basis of index crime rate change between the four year period of study, the research tested whether police involvement in community policing distinguished jurisdictions measuring improvement from those measuring worsened total, property, and violent index crime rates. Overall, the study found no discernible relationships between police involvement in the community policing activities of interest and improvements in index crime rates within the subgroups of jurisdictions and time period examined. These findings suggest community policing alone will unlikely affect crime change and emphasizes the need for improving measures of community policing practices in support of studies of effectiveness.