Participation as an Indicator of Success: The Role of Citizens' Groups in Predicting the Efficacy of Community Policing Programs

Erica L. Schmitt, The American University

Despite widespread political and financial support, many evaluations of community policing initiatives offer little evidence that these programs have an impact on crime and other quality of life indicators. In addition, these evaluations often overlook the level of community participation Since COP philosophy is constructed around the basic premise that both community members and police officers must participate in the law enforcement function, it stands tro reason that the greater the level of community involvement, the more effective the community policing program. Furthermore, research in the public policy arena indicates that ambiguous policies, such as many of the unstructured community policing initiatives, need an intermediary to succeed. One intermediary, and measure of community involvement, is the number of crime-and/or justice-oriented interest groups active within a jurisdiction. It is hypothesized that cities with a larger number of these interest groups will experience greater success in implementng effective COP programs and initiatives than cities with fewer groups. This research will also attempt to determine whether the success of a program is contingent upon the participation of a particular number of groups or if the successful participation of citizens' groups is dependent upon the jurisdiction.

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Updated 05/20/2006