This study was conducted to explore the ways
that enable the Ada County Sheriff's Office (ACSO) to examine its
behavior in five areas that embody its adoption of community policing
elements. These five areas are: (1) periodic assessments of citizens'
perceptions of crime and police services, (2) substation policing, (3)
patrol based in problem-oriented identification and resolution, (4)
performance evaluation in a community-oriented policing (COP)/ problem
oriented policing (POP) environment, and (5) the building of community
One of the goals of this project was to facilitate the ACSO's
efforts toward self reflection, and by doing so, become a learning
organization. To become a learning organization, the organization has
to be "listening" to its important audiences. In this research, those
audiences are: (1) citizens and important groups in its service
communities, and (2) personnel within the organization who are
responsible for carrying out programs.
The study was also conducted to gain strategic information from
the ACSO's environment on both transitive and recursive effects.
Transitive effect is the extent to which a program is having its
desired effect in the environment. These effects are typically
measured by outcome evaluations, though, for this study, the
researchers sought an assessment of the community in which programs
are carried out. Recursive effects are the way in which local
departmental and community actors are reacting and adapting to the
programs. These effects are often described in the language of a
process evaluation. Combined, these two effects proved an opportunity
to look at the programs' intended and unintended effects, and to
anticipate problems among those who carry out programs.
In addition to traditional methodologies, that aim to produce
statistical portraits which allow inferences regarding program
success, an organizational learning model was used. Learning models
also view program success as determined as much by how well programs
are carried out as by how they are perceived and received by their
intended and sometimes unintended audiences. As learning organization
methodologies are applied to police organizations, they are changed
from being about "private policing" engaged in a personal fight
against crime to "public policing" engaged in dealing with crimes,
public order problems, and recurring service issues as conceived,
desired, or disliked by their communities.
The strategic purpose of this methodology was to increase each
organization's environmental fit, and to do so by giving commanders
information that provides systematic public and organizational
feedback on programs and practices.
In order to "listen" to citizens and those
carrying out programs, Boise State University carried out two separate
surveys, a survey of citizens and a survey of deputies. The purpose of
the citizen survey was to track any long-term changes in residents'
perceptions in the following areas since 1997: citizen fear of crime,
citizen satisfaction with police services, the extent of public
knowledge about and interest in ideas of community policing, and
citizens' public service needs. The deputy survey was intended to
assess: (1) the current state of problem-oriented policing among the
troops, (2) whether problem-oriented policing has been embraced
department-wide or was simply a phenomenon in its contract cities, (3)
examples of successful problem-oriented projects, and (4) strategies
for enhancing the problem-oriented mandate at the sheriff's
office. The citizen survey was a random, stratified telephone survey
administered to 761 Ada County residents who receive patrol services
from the ACSO. The survey was designed to correspond to a similar
survey conducted in 1997 (DEVELOPING A PROBLEM-ORIENTED POLICING MODEL
IN ADA COUNTY, IDAHO, 1997-1998 [ICPSR 2654]) in the same geographical
area regarding similar issues. The deputy survey was a self-enumerated
questionnaire administered to deputies and sergeants of the ACSO
during a pre-arranged, regular monthly training. Twenty-four deputies
were present at the first meeting and 30 deputies were in attendance
at the second meeting, resulting in 54 deputy respondents plus an
additional five sergeants. Surveys were distributed and returned
during the first hour of training.
For the citizen survey, a random, stratified sample of
residents in rural Ada County, Idaho, who receive patrol services from
the Ada County Sheriff's Office was used, specifically residents in
the incorporated communities of Eagle and Kuna. Additional surveys
were obtained from the community of Star and unincorporated Ada
County. Individuals who received services from Boise, Meridian, and
Garden City Police Departments were not surveyed. Telephone prefixes
were used as geographic indicators to identify the residence of the
respondents. Within these prefixes, respondents were randomly sampled
using proportionate sampling techniques. More detailed geographic data
were obtained during the interview to discount the possible error of
misdesignating rural and urban respondents. The deputy survey was a
convenience sample obtained by distributing the self-enumerated
questionnaire to all deputies and sergeants who attended at least one
of the two regularly scheduled ACSO monthly block training meetings.
Citizens of rural Ada County, Idaho in 2002, and deputies
employed by the Ada County Sheriff's Office in 2002.
Citizen data were obtained through CATI telephone
surveys of residents in rural Ada County. Deputy data were obtained
through self-enumerated questionnaire given to ACSO deputies and
sergeants during their monthly block training.
Both surveys collected demographic data on all of
the respondents such as ethnicity, gender, and educational level.
Demographic information was gathered for deputies on their current
assignments in the ACSO a well as how many years they had been
employed by ACSO. Demographic variables in the citizen survey also
included type of occupation and income. The citizen survey further
examined how safe residents felt in their community, their feelings
about the ACSO and its Web site, their familiarity with different
programs associated with the ACSO, and how well they believed these
programs would work in reducing crime/their feelings on what best
reduces crime. Information was also gathered on the citizens'
knowledge about and interest in ideas of community policing, their
police service needs, and their satisfaction with the ACSO. The deputy
survey includes variables regarding their perceptions of crime
problems they had observed, or particular types of calls for
service. Data are also included about how well problem-oriented
policing had been embraced, examples of successful problem-oriented
policing projects, and strategies for enhancing problem-oriented
policing. Finally, data provide deputies' views about their
performance evaluation instrument and deputies' views of departmental
For the citizen survey, 761 interviews were
conducted. Of this, 6 were not useful, with a 99 percent response
rate. For the deputy survey, of 80 deputies, 54 deputies and 5
sergeants attended their monthly block training. All 59 completed
their questionnaire for a response rate of 100 percent.
A Likert-type scale was used