Public Opinion of Police: Determinants of Citizen Satisfaction of Police Services

Venessa Garcia, Monmouth University
Liqun Cao, Eastern Michigan University

Public opinion of criminal justice systems has been found to be essential for the proper functioning of police departments. Research has revealed that public opinion has a large influence on police operations and policies. This study explored determinants of satisfaction with a police department's overall presentation and effectiveness. In a study of 235 residents of a small northeastern city in the United States, we examined minority status, victimization, suspect status, age, sex, and perceptions of safety in relation to satisfaction with the police. Our analyses revealed that minorities, victims of property crime, prior suspects, younger individuals, men, and individuals who did not feel safe were less satisfied with the police. The study concludes that police departments must work harder at gaining public trust and confidence among minority groups and as well as work toward increasing public feelings of safety in order to ensure proper support of departmental policies and programs.

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Updated 05/20/2006