National Archive of Criminal Justice Data

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Evaluation of Community Policing Initiatives in Jefferson County, West Virginia, 1996-1997 (ICPSR 2800)

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This data collection was designed to evaluate the implementation of community policing initiatives for three police departments in Jefferson County, West Virginia: the Ranson Town Police Department, the West Virginia State Police (Jefferson County Detachment), and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. The evaluation was undertaken by the Free Our Citizens of Unhealthy Substances Coalition (FOCUS), a county-based group of citizens who represented all segments of the community, including businesses, churches, local law enforcement agencies, and local governments. The aim was to find answers to the following questions: (1) Can community policing have any detectable and measurable impact in a predominantly rural setting? (2) Did the police department do what they said they would do in their funding application? (3) If they were successful, what factors supported their efforts and were key to their success? and (4) If they were not successful, what problems prevented their success? The coalition conducted citizen surveys to evaluate how much of an impact community policing initiatives had in their county. In January 1996, research assistants conducted a baseline survey of 300 households in the county. Survey responses were intended to gauge residents' fear of crime and to assess how well the police were performing their duties. After one year, the coalition repeated its survey of public attitudes, and research assistants interviewed another 300 households. The research assumption was that any change in fear of crime or assessment of police performance could reasonably be attributed to these new community policing inventions. Crime reporting variables from the survey included which crime most concerned the respondent, if the respondent would report a crime he or she observed, and whether the respondent would testify about the crime in court. Variables pertaining to level of concern for specific crimes include how concerned respondents were that someone would rob or attack them, break into or vandalize their home, or try to sexually attack them/someone they cared about. Community involvement variables covered participation in community groups or activities, neighborhood associations, church, or informal social activities. Police/citizen interaction variables focused on the number of times respondents had called to report a problem to the police in the last two years, how satisfied they were with how the police handled the problem, the extent to which this police department needed improvement, whether children trusted law enforcement officers, whether police needed to respond more quickly to calls, whether the police needed improved relations with the community, and in the past year whether local police performance had improved/gotten worse. Specific crime information variables include whether the crime occurred in the respondent's neighborhood, whether he/she was the victim, if crime was serious in the respondent's neighborhood versus elsewhere, whether the respondent had considered moving as a result of crime in the neighborhood, and how personal safety had changed in the respondent's neighborhood. Variables relating to community policing include whether the respondent had heard the term "community policing" in the past year, from what source, and what community policing activities the respondent was aware of. Demographic variables include job self-classification, racial/ethnic identity, length of residency, age, gender, martial status, educational status, and respondent's town of residence.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

Dataset - Download All Files (1 MB)

Study Description

Citation

McCoy, Diane, C. EVALUATION OF COMMUNITY POLICING INITIATIVES IN JEFFERSON COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA, 1996-1997. ICPSR02800-v1. Charles Town, WV: FOCUS (Free Our Citizens of Unhealthy Substances) [producer], 1997. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2000. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02800.v1

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)

Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (95-IJ-CX-0088)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   community involvement, community organizations, community policing, crime reporting, fear of crime, law enforcement agencies, police citizen interactions, police performance, program evaluation, public opinion, rural areas

Geographic Coverage:   United States, West Virginia

Unit of Observation:   Individuals.

Universe:   All Jefferson County residents in 1996 and 1997.

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The user guide, codebook, and data collection instrument are provided as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided through the ICPSR Website on the Internet.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   Community policing to date has been primarily an urban phenomenon, without much attention to its applicability to small towns or rural settings. This study offered a test of the transferability of the community policing practices to a rural community. Police executives in Jefferson County, West Virginia, had identified the need to improve the relations between the police and the community for several reasons. First, the problem of crime was growing faster than police resources. This fact necessitated better utilization of community resources in the form of volunteers, neighborhood watches, and open communication between police and citizens. Second, past public support of the advocacy of local police had been poor. Lastly, local police desired more open dialogue with the African-American sectors of the county. During the summer of 1995, most local police forces in Jefferson County received federal funding from the United States Department of Justice to implement community policing. In applying for these funds, each department outlined specific tasks it intended to undertake with the funds. The Free Our Citizens of Unhealthy Substances Coalition (FOCUS), a county-based group of citizens who represented all segments of the community including businesses, churches, local law enforcement agencies, and local governments, observed and evaluated the implementation of community policing initiatives for three police departments in Jefferson County. Through use of citizen surveys, the coalition set out to evaluate how much of an impact community policing initiatives had in their county. The aim was to find answers to the following questions: (1) Can community policing have any detectable and measurable impact in a predominantly rural setting? (2) Did the police department do what they said they would do in their funding application? (3) If they were successful, what factors supported their efforts and were key to their success? and (4) If they were not successful, what problems prevented their success?

Study Design:   Community policing initiatives in Jefferson County were not implemented until late January or February 1996. The FOCUS Coalition conducted a baseline telephone survey of public attitudes between funding in mid-1995 and implementation in early 1996. In January 1996, research assistants surveyed 300 households in the county. Survey responses were intended to gauge residents' fear of crime and to assess how well the police were performing their duties. After one year of community policing, the FOCUS coalition repeated its survey of public attitudes, and research assistants interviewed another 300 households. The research assumption was that any change in fear of crime or assessment of police performance could reasonably be attributed to these new community policing inventions. The telephone interviews were conducted during evenings and weekends to assure the inclusion of those who worked during the day outside the home. Quality assurance for the interview was provided through pretraining and test interviews, direct supervision, and a comparison of results between interviewers. The interviews were conducted by three research assistants who were hired and trained for that purpose. The interviewers identified the FOCUS coalition as the entity conducting the survey, and provided both its phone number and that of the county sheriff for verification purposes.

Sample:   Random sample.

Data Source:

telephone interviews

Description of Variables:   Crime reporting variables from the survey included which crime most concerned the respondent, if the respondent would report a crime he or she observed, and whether the respondent would testify about the crime in court. Variables pertaining to level of concern for specific crimes include how concerned respondents were that someone would rob or attach them, break into or vandalize their home, or try to sexually attach them/someone they cared about. Community involvement variables covered participation in community groups or activities. Police/citizen interaction variables focused on the number of times respondents had called to report a problem to the police in the last two years, how satisfied they were with how the police handled the problem, the extent to which this police department needed improvement, whether children trusted law enforcement officers, whether police needed improved relations with the community, and in the past years whether local police performance had improved/gotten worse. Specific Crime information variables include whether the crime occurred in the respondent's neighborhood, whether he/she was the victim, if crime was serious in the respondent's neighborhood versus elsewhere, whether the respondent had considered moving as a result of crime in the neighborhood, and how personal safety had changed in the respondent's neighborhood. Variables relating to community policing include whether the respondent had heard the term "community policing" in the past year, from what source, and what community policing activities the respondent was aware of. Demographic variables include job self-classification, racial/ethnic identity, length of residency, age, gender, martial status, educational status, and respondent's town of residence.

Response Rates:   There was a 30-percent response rate for both the 1996 and 1997 surveys.

Presence of Common Scales:   Several Likert-type scales were used.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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