The dominant framework in American policing in
the last decade has been community policing. Not only is community
policing immensely popular with police administrators and the public,
it has become a cornerstone of crime control policy nationwide. While
much has been written on the concept and emergence of community
policing, little is known of how departments translate these concepts
into practice. Although numerous descriptive studies have been
conducted regarding the nature of community-oriented policing,
there is a dearth of scientific study regarding community policing's
concrete effects on police departments and police officers.
Similarly, most research on community policing has failed to explain
what effect community policing has had on the daily tasks of police
officers. If community policing entails that policing be
decentralized, solve community problems, make officers proactive and
creative, and involve community members, then in what specific tasks
are community police officers engaged to this end? This study sought
to examine the impact of community policing on police officers'
activities in Ohio. It was guided by these primary questions: (1) Has
there been a change in police officer activities since the advent of
community policing? (2) Do the reported tasks of officers working in
agencies that reported adopting community-oriented policing differ
from those in agencies not adopting community policing? (3) Does
departmental commitment to community policing affect officers' tasks?
To determine if the advent of community policing
had changed the activities of line-level police officers, the study
employed three sources of data. First, the 1981 Ohio Peace Officer
Task Analysis Survey was conducted to measure police officer tasks.
Over 300 Ohio police agencies participated, and the final sample
included responses from 1,989 police officers. This survey contained
groups of specific task statements categorized into subsections such
as administration, arrest, search and seizure, patrol, community
relations and crime prevention, and traffic. To determine what tasks
police officers performed, the original questionnaire listed the task
statements and asked police officers to tell how often they performed
each task. Officers could respond from 0 (never) to 5 (daily).
Recognizing that community policing had not yet begun to enjoy
popularity when the first sample of officers was questioned in 1981
and that the job of policing and the training needs of peace officers
had changed over the past 15 years, the Ohio Office of Criminal
Justice Services again conducted a task analysis survey of a sample of
police officers throughout the state in 1996. The survey instrument
was changed from that of the 1981 survey to better assess needed
knowledge, skills, and abilities for police officers. Nonetheless, the
1996 survey instrument included 23 items taken directly from the
earlier survey. These 23 items are the only variables from the 1981
survey that are included in this dataset, and they form the basis of
the study's comparisons. A total of 1,689 officers from 229 police
departments responded to the 1996 survey. While the 1996 Peace Officer
Task Analysis survey was in the field, the local police agencies
included in the task analysis survey sample were asked to complete a
separate agency survey to determine if they had a community policing
program. This agency questionnaire gathered data on whether the police
department had a community-oriented policing program, described the
components of the program, and determined the level of departmental
commitment to community-oriented policing. A total of 180 departments
returned responses to this agency survey.
Agencies having at least one full-time officer were
sampled for the agency survey, and individual police officers were
randomly selected from the agencies that received the agency survey.
All police officers in Ohio.
Individuals and agencies.
self-enumerated mail-back questionnaires
Both the 1981 and 1996 task analysis surveys
collected information on police officers' age, race, sex, and job
satisfaction. Items regarding police officers' job tasks included
frequency of conducting field searches of arrested persons,
handcuffing suspects, impounding property, participating in raids,
patrolling on foot, giving street directions, mediating family
disputes, and engaging in school visits. The 1996 agency questionnaire
gathered data on whether the police department had a community
policing program or a mission statement which emphasized community
involvement, whether the COP program had an actual implementation date
and a full-time supervisor, whether the respondents were currently
assigned as COP officers, and whether the department's COP officers
had had supplemental training.
Specific response rates are not available.
However, 1,989 police officers from over 300 police departments
responded to the 1981-1982 Ohio Peace Task Analysis survey, 1,689 police
officers from 229 police departments responded to the 1996 Ohio Peace
Task Analysis survey, and 180 departments responded to the agency
survey, while 49 departments did not respond at all.