Perceptions of Police and Safety in a Small Town

Stacey D. Nofziger, Kansas State University
L. Susan Williams, Kansas State University

A great deal of research has been conducted to determine what influences community attitudes toward police. In a second body of literature, researchers have studied community fear of crime or feelings of safety. This study is an attempt to bring together these two literatures by examining how perceptions of police and feelings of safety are related to each other. In addition, this study contributes to these literatures by examining these issues in a largely rural, non-metropolitan county in the mid-west. The data was collected as part of an annual evaluation of the county Police Department. Preliminary analyses indicate there is a significant correlation between perceptions of police competence and feelings of safety in the community. The next step of this project is to conduct regression analyses to determine to what extent perceptions of police can predict feelings of safety. We expect that positive direct experiences with the local police or general perceptions of police competence will increase feelings of safety.

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Updated 05/20/2006