Homicide and the Compassionate Cop

Responding to a shooting is a high-tension event for police. But it can also be a moment for building community trust—if survivors, eyewitnesses and family members of victims are treated with more empathy and respect, according to the Urban Institute.

Soon after her son was shot, his mother was called by an Oakland, Ca., police officer offering a ride in his patrol car.

He wanted “to make sure I was OK,” the woman recalled.

But the words of comfort quickly turned into an interrogation.

“He drove me around the neighborhood and asked if I knew what happened…probably because I have other sons and he probably thought they would know,” she said.

crime scene

Photo by booturtle via Flickr

The incident, described in a series of Urban Institute studies of how police respond to shooting events, was an example of how a focus on solving crimes without taking into account the emotions of survivors or community fears can perpetuate distrust, and fuel a climate that leads to more violence, researchers said.

The studies, conducted in partnership with the Urban Peace Institute, concluded that law enforcement was more effective when investigations were conducted with compassion, respect and transparency.

This was true even under the high-stakes pressure of a murder investigation, researchers said.

Going “beyond the yellow tape” at police crime scenes to apply the principles of procedural justice in dealing with shooting victims and relatives can even save lives, the researchers suggested.

“Police play a critical role in reducing community violence, but their legitimacy can be undermined by lack of community trust, particularly in high-crime communities where intervention is needed most,” the study authors said.

“Along with enabling community trust, procedurally just policing has the potential to address the needs of homicide victims and their families as well as prevent the spread of gun violence.”

The studies, undertaken to advise the Oakland Police Department on applying procedural justice to its policies and practices, were based on interviews with police, local community groups, crime victims, and family members.

The recommendations come as tensions and mistrust continue to undermine police-community relations in many U.S. cities.

Last week, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was sentenced to 81 months in prison for the 2014 killing of unarmed youth Laquan McDonald—a sentence that angered McDonald’s relatives and that activists called little more than a slap on the wrist. 

And a federal monitor appointed to oversee the Baltimore Police Department concluded that it would take years to reverse the corruption and racism that plagued the force.

Principles of Procedural Justice

The Urban Institute studies identified four approaches associated with procedural justice that were critical for improving police-community relations when law enforcement responded to a shooting scene, and during the subsequent investigation:

  • Treating victims and eyewitnesses with dignity and respect;
  • Taking the time to hear their accounts and answering questions even under the pressure of a live investigation;
  • Avoiding judgement and being transparent about what officers are doing in the scene;
  • Sharing as much information as possible within the limits of an ongoing investigation;

One study looked specifically at how survivors and family members of Oakland shooting incidents between 2011 and 2017 perceived contrasting police responses, making clear that empathy and compassion made a big difference.

One victim recalled his pleasure when a police officer visiting him at the hospital treated him with respect.

“He didn’t treat me like a criminal,” he said. “I was legitimately a victim and I felt that way even when he left. He left me use his phone. He was solid.”

But many other examples, like the police officer who turned giving a lift to the mother of a shooting victim into an interrogation, left a bad taste.

When police interviewed victims of one incident, a survivor remembered, “it wasn’t about ‘are you OK?’ or ‘Are you going to make it?’ It was just like who did it?”

Eyewitness told stories of police joking or laughing at a murder scene and being rude or brusque—even though such behavior might have been the police officers’ own way of dealing with stress.

The studies noted that many officers were themselves beginning to realize the importance of balancing the priorities of a crime-scene investigation with the needs and sensitivities of affected communities.

“We were brought up in a time that (sic) it didn’t matter what the public thinks,” one veteran officer admitted to the researchers. “Now, we understand public perceptions play an important role in our success.”

Innovative Strategies

In one of the studies, researchers reviewed innovative approaches in nine U.S. communities that were successfully applying procedural justice principles to their investigations.

Examples included:

  • The chief of the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Police Department placed the office of the coordinator of victim services next to his own office to underline his department’s commitment to victim-centered and trauma-informed approaches to police work;
  • Milwaukee police are partnering with local churches to ensure chaplains or other community religious leaders are present at crime scenes to provide emotional and spiritual care to victims;
  • The San Diego Police Department sends seven-person teams to every homicide scene in order to have sufficient staff on hand to both investigate the event and engage community members;
  • Within 48 hours of every homicide, the Richmond, Va., police department initializes a program called Community RESET (Rapid Engagement of Support in the Event of Trauma), under which officers accompanied by counselors conduct door-to-door interviews with residents in the neighborhood—with the aim of identifying and addressing community trauma.

While the net effect of many of these efforts remains to be studied, the researchers said they demonstrate a growing consensus that traditional forms of police interaction with crime victims and survivors had to change.

“Treating people as individuals is an important form of giving them dignity and respect,” the study said, noting that interviews with Oakland shooting victims and families showed that a “perceived lack of compassion was often related to the sense of being treated as though the shooting situation was routine.

“Compassionate interactions affirm the humanity and value of a person.”

The most poignant statement about the Oakland Police Department (OPD) came from the residents themselves.

The researchers wrote: “Many simply said, ‘Can OPD just be human at the scene?’”

The three studies can be downloaded here.

from https://thecrimereport.org

‘Disrespect’ by Cops Reduces Civilian Reporting of Crime: Study

The frequency and tone of police stops are critical factors in whether individuals will contact police in the future to report crimes, according to a new study.

Individuals who are stopped and questioned by police are less likely to report crimes, according to a study published in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency,

Drawing on data collected by the Vera Institute of Justice in 2012 as part of a study that focused on areas of New York City marked by high rates of crime and police stops and arrests (Harlem, South Bronx, Jackson-Heights, Jamaica and East New York/Bedford-Stuyvesant), the researchers found that a greater number of lifetime stops correlates with a lower likelihood of police notification, and with lower ratings of both police legitimacy and effectiveness.

“Willingness to report crime is …one of several mechanisms that enable the mobilization of law as an immediate antecedent of citizen behavior, and is the lifeblood of police work,” said the study.

Researchers also noted that those who felt disrespected by the police were less willing to report crimes, regardless of whether they were satisfied with how the police handled the encounter.

“The more individuals see the police as aligned with their own values and dispositions, the more they should be willing to support them, to engage them, and to abide by these shared expectations,” the study said.

Significantly, individuals who perceived the police as legitimate and effective were 37 percent more likely to report crimes.

They also found that reporting intentions are relatively higher among women, employed persons, and those who perceived a greater likelihood of future victimization.

Data revealed no pattern related to  race and ethnicity, which they claimed was “perhaps due to the specific nature of our sample or the use of alternative markers of stratification such as employment or foreign-born status.”

However, researchers said that during involuntary encounters with police, tensions are higher, which can make encounter-based evaluations of the police less relevant for general assessments of law enforcement legitimacy and effectiveness, as well as for reporting intentions.

“It is also important for research because more detailed information on the appraisal process of personal experience can inform theory development on the mechanisms of citizen compliance and cooperation,”  they wrote.

The study was prepared by Andres F. Rengifo, Lee Ann Slocum and Vijay Chillar.

A full copy the report can downloaded here.

This summary was prepared by TCR staff reporter Megan Hadley.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Crime Victims Don’t Report If They Don’t Trust Cops: Study

Police should focus on policies and practices that lend themselves to “procedural fairness,” according to researchers who conducted interviews of 687 victims of non-sexual crimes in Seattle.

Crime victims’ perceptions that they will be treated unfairly or not taken seriously by the police reduce the probability of them reporting offenses to law enforcement by 11 percent, according to a new study appearing in the Journal of Criminal Justice.

The study was authored by Hyounggon Kwaka, a criminal justice professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Rick Dierenfeldt, a social, cultural and justice studies professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; and Susan McNeeley, a research analyst at Minnesota Department of Corrections.

The authors analyzed a portion of the Seattle Neighborhoods and Crime Survey (SNCS) that centered on crime victimization, which was conducted in 2002–2003. The sample for the current study was limited to the 687 respondents who identified as being victims of non-sexual violent crime within two years prior to taking the survey.

Participants were asked if they had been “physically attacked, beaten up, or threatened” in the past two years.If they had, they were asked a series of questions about the most recent assault victimization.

They were also asked to indicate whether they agreed that police treat wealthy people better than poor people, white people better than African Americans, Asians and Hispanics, and English-speaking people better than non-English speaking people.

Approximately 40 percent of the assault victims reported the incident to the law enforcement, and according to the researchers’ analysis, perceived that procedural injustice had a negative impact on participants’ decision to report the crimes. Black victims were especially less likely to report crime when their distrust of police effectiveness was higher.

“It is possible that vicarious experiences with the police acquired from family, peers, and neighbors resonate among black residents, exacerbating negative views of police,” the researchers write.

Furthermore, non-injured victims with greater perceptions of procedural injustice were less likely to report their victimizations to the police. However, injured victims were more likely to call the police, despite maintaining heightened perceptions of procedural injustice.

The researchers say their findings have practical and theoretical implications.

“First, police agencies should focus on policies and practices that lend themselves to procedural fairness,” the researchers write. “Simply stated, police practices should be designed to avoid potential negative consequences during police-citizen interactions, including conflict/resistance, violation of citizens’ constitutional rights, and police use of excessive force.”

The study supports previous studies indicating that crime victims don’t report offenses because they don’t trust police. A recent study, for example, found that though hate crimes are surging globally, they remain underreported in part because victims lack trust in law enforcement.

A full copy of the current study can be downloaded here.

J. Gabriel Ware is a TCR contributing writer.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Crime Victims Don’t Report If They Don’t Trust Cops: Study

Police should focus on policies and practices that lend themselves to “procedural fairness,” according to researchers who conducted interviews of 687 victims of non-sexual crimes in Seattle.

Crime victims’ perceptions that they will be treated unfairly or not taken seriously by the police reduce the probability of them reporting offenses to law enforcement by 11 percent, according to a new study appearing in the Journal of Criminal Justice.

The study was authored by Hyounggon Kwaka, a criminal justice professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Rick Dierenfeldt, a social, cultural and justice studies professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; and Susan McNeeley, a research analyst at Minnesota Department of Corrections.

The authors analyzed a portion of the Seattle Neighborhoods and Crime Survey (SNCS) that centered on crime victimization, which was conducted in 2002–2003. The sample for the current study was limited to the 687 respondents who identified as being victims of non-sexual violent crime within two years prior to taking the survey.

Participants were asked if they had been “physically attacked, beaten up, or threatened” in the past two years.If they had, they were asked a series of questions about the most recent assault victimization.

They were also asked to indicate whether they agreed that police treat wealthy people better than poor people, white people better than African Americans, Asians and Hispanics, and English-speaking people better than non-English speaking people.

Approximately 40 percent of the assault victims reported the incident to the law enforcement, and according to the researchers’ analysis, perceived that procedural injustice had a negative impact on participants’ decision to report the crimes. Black victims were especially less likely to report crime when their distrust of police effectiveness was higher.

“It is possible that vicarious experiences with the police acquired from family, peers, and neighbors resonate among black residents, exacerbating negative views of police,” the researchers write.

Furthermore, non-injured victims with greater perceptions of procedural injustice were less likely to report their victimizations to the police. However, injured victims were more likely to call the police, despite maintaining heightened perceptions of procedural injustice.

The researchers say their findings have practical and theoretical implications.

“First, police agencies should focus on policies and practices that lend themselves to procedural fairness,” the researchers write. “Simply stated, police practices should be designed to avoid potential negative consequences during police-citizen interactions, including conflict/resistance, violation of citizens’ constitutional rights, and police use of excessive force.”

The study supports previous studies indicating that crime victims don’t report offenses because they don’t trust police. A recent study, for example, found that though hate crimes are surging globally, they remain underreported in part because victims lack trust in law enforcement.

A full copy of the current study can be downloaded here.

J. Gabriel Ware is a TCR contributing writer.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Slow Down, Officer: An Experiment in ‘Building a Better Cop’

Can changing the way cops think on the job make communities trust them more? The results of a Seattle experiment that trained officers to gather and process information differently showed participants made fewer arrests and were involved in fewer use-of-force incidents, according to a study released Wednesday.

Police officers who took part in training designed to help them apply the principles of procedural justice to their daily routines were involved in fewer use-of-force incidents, and made fewer arrests than their peers, researchers found.

In a study released Wednesday in Criminology & Public Policy, a journal published by the American Society of Criminology, randomly selected officers were trained in what researchers termed a “slow-thinking” approach that encouraged them to modify how they gathered, processed and responded to information in areas with high incidences of crime.

The experiment was conducted in Seattle between May and November 2013, during a time when the local police department was experiencing a high turnover in leadership and was under a federal monitor. A group of officers were randomly selected to participate from among a pool of those who worked in high-risk “hot spots.”

“The goal of the program was to influence the way that officers think about even the most mundane aspects of their job, potentially reducing the frequency with which officers engaged in behavior that could be perceived by the public as unjust,” the study said.

During program meetings, officers were prompted to reflect on their thought processes and actions during relatively benign encounters, and supervisors were trained to engage the officers in the concept of procedural justice, which is based on the principle of treating all citizens with fairness and dignity, including those suspected of criminal behavior.

Reformers both inside and outside police ranks believe procedural justice is a critical factor in rebuilding trust and legitimacy for police in often hostile communities.

The six-month experiment was designed as a “low-risk, low-intensity” program, in which participating officers could determine when and for how long the sessions lasted–and were invited to be candid with supervisory personnel who conducted the trainings.

“The goal was to remind officers that authority does not always perfectly coincide with total control,” the authors of the study wrote. “Allowing the officer to speak freely did not mean that the sergeant was not in charge of the meeting, in the same way that allowing citizens to speak does not need to diminish an officer’s control over a situation.”

To assess the results of the experiment, researchers compared the behavior of officers participating in the study with a control group of non-participating officers, using traditional performance measurements such as arrests. (They noted that there were no standardized criteria for measuring performance according to procedural justice principles.

The study found that in the six weeks following a supervisory meeting, participating officers were “less likely (than non-participating officers) to resolve incidents with an arrest and less likely to be involved in use-of-force incidents.”

The authors added: “Furthermore, we found that the largest reduction in arrests occurred among officers who worked beats where there was a moderate level of ‘predicted risk,’ which we defined by using the frequency with which other officers used force, were injured, or were the subject of citizen complaints after working in that area.”

The authors said their results prove that “a relatively minor supervisory intervention may cause substantive changes in how police and citizens interact with each other.”

The study, entitled “Can You Build a Better Cop? Experimental Evidence on Supervision, Training, and Policing in the Community,” was conducted by Emily Owens, of the University of California, Irvine; David Weisburd of George Mason University and Hebrew University; Karen L. Amendola of the Police Foundation; and Geoffery P. Alpert of the University of South Carolina and Griffith University.

A full copy is available for download here.

This summary was prepared by Deputy TCR Editor Victoria Mckenzie. She welcomes readers’ comments.

from https://thecrimereport.org

‘Negative’ Prison Culture Puts Communities at Risk, Report Warns

Prisons that foster a “culture of negativity” for both inmates and correctional workers make our communities less safe, according to a review of a February prison riot in Delaware. The review, led by a team from the Police Foundation, urges correctional authorities to recognize their “core” role in preventing recidivism.

Prisons that foster a “culture of negativity” for both inmates and correctional workers make our communities less safe, warns a study of a Delaware prison revolt that took the life of a correctional officer earlier this year.

The report, an analysis conducted by the Police Foundation of the February 2017 hostage-taking incident at Delaware’s James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, argued that corrections officials must take more seriously their “core” role in avoiding the high rates of recidivism that contribute to mass incarceration in the U.S.

By nurturing a culture that emphasizes “trust and legitimacy” inside prison walls, correctional authorities can ensure that inmates won’t carry their resentment and bitterness with them when they return to civilian life—and reoffend, the report said.

“It is important for correctional executives and correctional officers to recognize that most incarcerated individuals will, at some point, be released from institutional confinement and free to re-enter society,” said the report, noting that roughly 600,000 to 700,000 individuals are released from state prisons annually.

The report warned that “adversarial” and hostile prison environments not only make such facilities more dangerous places to work “but also make communities less safe once offenders subjected to these conditions are released.”

Editor’s Note: A 30-state study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics based on data collected between 2005 and 2010 found that two-thirds of released prisoners were re-arrested within three years, and three-quarters within five years. The study was released in 2014.

Instead, the report continued, corrections authorities should create an environment in which disputes are handled fairly and transparently—applying what many criminologists call “procedural justice.”

Sgt. Steven Floyd. Photo courtesy American Police Beat

The report was commissioned by Delaware Gov. John C. Carney after inmates at the Vaughn prison took workers hostage on February 1 in an 18-hour siege that left one corrections officer, Sgt. Steven Floyd, dead and several other workers and inmates injured. It was the second incident of inmate unrest at the facility in less than a month.

An independent review of the hostage-taking was conducted by a team from the Police Foundation, a think tank founded in 1970 to support innovative practices in policing. The review was led by retired Delaware Family Court Judge William L. Chapman, Jr. and former U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly, III.

Gov. John C. Carney. Photo by Delaware Department of Agriculture via Flickr

The team issued a preliminary report in June. The final report was released September 1.

In his response to the final report, Gov. Carney acknowledged that “we have systemic issues within our correctional system that must be addressed, and we are committed to addressing them.”

The 54-page final report contained dozens of recommendations for specific improvements in training and staffing for corrections workers and in the operations of the Delaware Department of Corrections—as well as a sweeping indictment of the correctional “culture” of the Delaware facility.

In the years leading up to the incident, the Vaughn state prison was characterized by an “institutionalized culture of negativity…in which administration executives, correctional officers, support staff, and inmates view one another as adversaries,” the report said.

Photo courtesy Delaware Department of Corrections

In a scathing assessment, the report linked inmate unrest to “adverse working conditions for correctional officers…inconsistently implemented rules and regulations, an inmate grievance procedure deemed unfair, a distrusted medical/mental health system, and a real lack of morale permeating the line officers.”

But the report also made clear that changes in specific policies, such as higher pay and better training for correctional workers and greater access to educational programs for inmates, must be accompanied by a focus on transforming the prison environment.

It urged adopting “procedural justice as the guiding principle” in the interactions between corrections administrators and staff, and between correctional staff and inmates.

“Correctional officers, much like law enforcement officers, have to strike a delicate balance between the enforcement of rules and their guardianship over inmates in order to ensure all around safe operations,” the report said.

“(But) it is important they ensure inmates are protected from undue harm and are being treated fairly and equitably.”

The authors of the report cited a warning by the 2015 President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing that if new rules and policies conflicted with the “existing culture” of law enforcement organizations, “behavior will not change.”

“This lesson is directly applicable to correctional organizations,” the report said.

A full copy of the report is available here.

This summary was prepared by TCR executive editor Stephen Handelman. Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Building Trust in Police: What Really Works?

The authors of a study of police-civilian interactions in two cities in New York State say their findings challenge assumptions in the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing that simply treating citizens with fairness and respect is sufficient to restore trust and confidence in law enforcement.

Building trust and legitimacy was the first of six “pillars” identified by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing as essential for police reform. The Task Force urged police agencies to establish procedural justice as the “guiding principle” in police interactions with citizens for developing that trust.

Will police departments accrue greater public trust and legitimacy by promoting procedural justice—roughly defined as the fairness with which police authority is applied—in street encounters?

We don’t believe they will.

As well-grounded in theory and empirical evidence as this prescription appears to be, we believe it rests on a misdiagnosis of organizational dynamics and public attitudes.

In our recently published study of policing, Mirage of Police Reform, we found that citizens’ assessments of procedural justice are shaped much less by how officers use their enforcement powers—such as using physical force or conducting searches—than whether they use them.

Here’s what we mean.

When people encounter police, the procedural justice that they perceive is associated with their trust in law enforcement and their sense that police deserve to be obeyed. In other words, it is linked to their perceptions about the “legitimacy” —or lack of legitimacy— of the police.

A large body of research demonstrates the strength and consistency of these empirical relationships.

Police who are “procedurally just” treat people with dignity and respect, give them an opportunity to explain their situations and listen to what they say, and explain what police have done and/or will do. By doing so, they make clear that officers are taking account of people’s needs and concerns, and are basing their decisions on facts.

The National Research Council’s Committee to Review Research on Police Policy and Practices (on which one of us served) asserted that legitimacy is thus “created” in individual police-citizen encounters.

With this research in mind, we worked with police departments in Schenectady and Syracuse, two cities in upstate New York, to make procedural justice a measure of performance for which police managers were held accountable.

Over the course of 18 months, we regularly surveyed people who had recent contacts with police as a result of a call for assistance, a stop, or an arrest; we summarized and reported survey results to command staffs through the departments’ Compstat meetings.

Supposing that “what gets measured gets managed,” we anticipated that managers and field supervisors would pay attention to how their officers treat citizens, and that procedural justice and public trust would thereby improve.

Robert E. Worden

But we found a mixed reception to the administrative push for procedural justice among patrol officers, field supervisors, and mid-level managers. Some officers were receptive; some exhibited a tempered receptivity; others were quite skeptical. Some platoon commanders made procedural justice a frequent topic in roll calls; others neglected it.

With the introduction of these performance measures into Compstat, we detected no significant changes in citizens’ perceptions of, or attitudes toward, police in either city. Citizen satisfaction with police was fairly high at the outset of our study, leaving only little room for improvement.

We linked survey data on citizens’ subjective experience to independent measures of officers’ overt behavior—based on structured observation through the audio and video recordings of officers’ activities which Schenectady police routinely provided. (Syracuse police had neither in-car nor body-worn cameras.) We measured both officers’ procedural justice, e.g., displays of respect, attentive listening—and procedural injustice, e.g., discourtesy, ignoring citizens’ questions—and we discovered that citizens’ perceptions are weakly related to the former and only moderately related to the latter.

Our findings contradict the claim that legitimacy is “created” through police-citizen interactions. We saw no change overall in observed procedural justice, which was moderately high in the first place; or in procedural injustice, which was uniformly low.

However, in one platoon, whose commander and supervisors were all supportive, officers’ behavior measured by procedural justice standards modestly improved.

These findings make sense from the perspective of institutional behavior. The technology of policing—the process of turning the “raw materials” of community conditions and individual crises into the finished products of safer neighborhoods and resolved situations—is not well-developed, and a limited understanding of how and how much police contribute to desired social outcomes makes it difficult for anyone to assess how well police are performing.

The public’s demands on police therefore often rest on assumptions that positive outcomes will follow from the adoption (or imposition) of particular organizational forms, such as community policing, civilian review of complaints, and early intervention systems for misconduct. But in fact such forms often fail because they are only loosely coupled with the technical “core” of policing, where the work is performed—mainly in patrol.

Sarah McLean

Since the procedural justice of officers’ actions is not normally measured, everyone could assume that when a department “adopts” procedurally just policing, its commitment is honored on the street. But the implementation of administrative mandates is determined by officers’ interpretations of their meaning. The procedural justice model would likely be weakly implemented in any case, even if it might nevertheless have symbolic appeal to the community.

Meanwhile, the behavior that tends to generate police-community friction—such as the use of physical force or searches of vehicles or persons—would remain unaddressed. It’s not that we think that procedurally just policing is a bad idea – far from it. But as a reform prescription, our findings lead us to conclude that it offers false hope for better police-community relations.

 As pointed out above, individual officers’ decisions about whether to use their coercive authority matter far more to public perceptions of police legitimacy than how they use it. Searches negatively affect citizens’ assessments of their contacts with police (unless they accede to them). So does the use of physical force.

We conclude that public trust in the police is closely tied to these critical exercises of authority. The experiences of some police agencies suggest that regulating these aspects of police performance will be more effective at achieving police “legitimacy” than mandating certain types of behavior to achieve “procedural justice.”

The Cincinnati Police Department is sometimes mentioned as an example of successful reform, partly because the frequency with which Cincinnati police use physical force has declined substantially. We believe that one key aspect of reform there involved use-of-force policies and procedures that were at least moderately coupled with street-level practice.

Supervisors were empowered to supervise—not merely to enforce policy but to guide officers in developing and using effective tactics. Such coupling cannot be taken for granted—the Ferguson Police Department had a similar policy on the books—but can be achieved and sustained.

Robert E. Worden is the Director of the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety, and Associate Professor of criminal justice at the University at Albany, SUNY. Sarah J. McLean is the Associate Director and the Director of Research and Technical Assistance at the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety, Inc. They welcome comments from readers.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Distrust Cops? Respect the Law? High-Crime Areas Say Yes to Both

If you live in a high-crime neighborhood, chances are you think cops are biased. But a new Urban Institute survey suggests that you are also more than willing to work with them to keep your community safe.

Photo by Christopher Schmidt via Flickr

A survey of high-crime neighborhoods in six cities found that residents are willing to work with police to help solve crimes, attend community-police meetings and even participate in voluntary patrols—even though they believe law enforcement is often biased and prone to misconduct.

The findings released today by the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center  add  weight to other research and anecdotal evidence underlining the importance of community policing strategies.

The study, by Nancy La Vigne, Jocelyn Fontaine and Anamika Dowell, was based on door-to-door surveys conducted between September 2015 and January 2016 in Birmingham, Al.; Fort Worth, Tx.; Gary, In.; Minneapolis, Mn.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Stockton, Ca.

Researchers conducted interviews in person or by phone with a sampling of 1,278 adults in neighborhoods selected because of their high crime rates and large populations of poor and unemployed individuals—neighborhoods which are commonly characterized by strained relations with law enforcement.

Summarizing the findings, the study said that a majority of those surveyed did not believe that police acted in “procedurally  just”  ways, such as trying to help  people they encountered, treating them with dignity and respect, or giving them a chance to tell their own side of the story.

More than half (55.5 percent) agreed with the statement that “police officers will treat you differently because of your race/ethnicity.”  And only a small percentage believed police departments in their cities made community concerns a priority.

Nevertheless, a majority believed laws should be obeyed and were likely to report a crime or suspicious activity to police. Almost half said they would volunteer to help solve a crime, and just over 41 percent said they were even willing to patrol the streets to help police identify suspicious activity.

The study, which was conducted on behalf of the National Initiative for Building Community  Trust and Justice, was unique in being targeted directly at the neighborhoods most affected by high violence.

The study authors said their findings underscored  research elsewhere showing that “despite often deep distrust in law enforcement over all, individual relationships with individual patrol officers can be strong and positive.”

The full study is available here.

 

 

from http://thecrimereport.org