A Contingency Approach to Explaining Variation in the Implementation of Community Policing

Jeremy M. Wilson, The Ohio State University

The proliferation of community policing has been accompanied by a good deal of literature detailing "how to get started" and case-studies that attempt to gauge the process and effectiveness of community policing strategies. However, relatively little research has explored the contextual and structural factors that influence the way in which police organizations implement community policing on an aggregate level. Contingency theory is used to develop a theoretical model that illustrates how these factors influence each other as well as how they determine the structural type of implementation (i.e., specialized unit, designated officers, specific policy) and organizational commitment (i.e., devotion of human resources) to this form of policing. In addition, this model links the way in which the structural type of and devotion of human resources to community policing in turn influence day-to-day community policing activities conducted (e.g., train officers in problem-solving and use on patrol and as part of evaluation, meet with citizens groups, provide crime data to citizens, etc.). This model is tested using data on over 3,000 police organizations from the 1997 Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS).

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Updated 05/20/2006