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Police Patrol. Management Question: How do you most effectively allocate police personnel? Answered with the tools of scientific management. PATROL - the backbone of policing Majority of officers assigned to Patrol provide the bulk of police services Patrol officers as “Gatekeepers” to CJS

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police patrol

Police Patrol

Management Question: How do you most effectively allocate police personnel? Answered with the tools of scientific management.

PATROL - the backbone of policing

Majority of officers assigned to Patrol provide the bulk of police services

Patrol officers as “Gatekeepers” to CJS

Patrol is the formative part of an officer’s career

Assignments based upon seniority

New officers start where? Patrol

Street experience is shared among all officers: bonding

Patrol considered least desirable assignment

police patrol2

Police Patrol


Deter Crime

Enhance sense of public safety through police presence

To make officers available for service delivery by physically distributing them throughout space

police patrol3

Police Patrol


Number of Officers: Police-Population Ratio

Has little relationship to crime rate or calls for service

Cities with high crime often have more officers

Allocation & Distribution of Officers to Patrol

Based on workload formulas

Time of Day (more serious crime at night)

Location (crime/disorder more common in poorer areas; lower income disproportionately racial minority)

Questions: -No standard among police depts. -Geographic changes in neighborhoods

organization delivery of patrol


Assignment to Shifts & Areas

Variety of Assignment Methods

Seniority System


Research (PERF) on frequent shifting shows effects include loss of sleep, health probs, on-the-job accidents, family probs, low morale

Hot Spots: Areas that receive a disproportionate number of calls for service

Sherman (1989) Minneapolis Study: 5% of addresses account for 64% of calls (60% no calls)


types of patrol


Most (84%) police patrol is automobile

Cars provide more efficient patrol than foot

Cover more area, pass each point more often

Patrol in an unpredictable manner

Respond quickly to calls for service

Shift from foot to car occurs from 1920-1950s

Consequences of patrol cars

loss of direct contact with citizens (especially law-abiding)

citizens may begin to see police as “occupying army”

police operations

Police Operations

Foot Patrol

Police-community relations crises of 1960s restores use of foot patrols

Also important in community policing models


coverage area is much more limited



gains in police-community relations

more on patrol as the modal method of policing
More on Patrol as the Modal method of Policing
  • Number of officers per patrol unit:
    • How many officers do you commit to a unit?
      • 1 or 2
      • Most involve single officer,
      • though police rank and file have traditionally called for more 2 officer units. Why?
      • Rank and file concerns about 1 officer units unfounded:
        • Assaulted less often
        • Made more arrests
        • Wrote more crime reports
styles of patrol
Styles of Patrol
  • Individual Styles of officers are important
    • Amount of work accomplished (productivity: volume of arrests, response to calls for service) depends on officer work style
    • Active
      • Officer-initiated actions (stops, questioning, traffic, frisking)
    • Re-active
      • Citizen initiated work: Officers may be passive or active in their response to complaints
styles of patrol11
Styles of Patrol
  • Supervisory Styles also important
    • How closely is patrol work scrutinized by shift supervisor? Expectations for appropriate police behavior & productivity impact patrol
    • Research on Patrol Sergeants supports this idea
    • Active role of Sergeants often is in terms of suggestion: protection of discretion as a fundamental part of police work
  • Organizational Styles
    • JQ Wilson: 3 Styles:
      • Watchman: emphasizes peacekeeping; not aggressive in law enforcement; little control over officers
      • Legalistic: aggressive crime-fighting; greater control over officers
      • Service: responsiveness to community expectations; more common in low-crime communities
how effective is patrol
How effective is Patrol?
  • Aspects of evaluating the effectiveness of police patrol:
    • Response Time is the gold standard for police & Public
      • Response time should increase likelihood of arrest
      • Should increase satisfaction with police
    • Research does not support Response Time
      • Little direct impact on clearance rates
      • Largely due to cold crime phenomena
        • Discovery time by citizens
        • Reporting time to police
        • Both are largely beyond police control
use of time on patrol
Use of Time on Patrol
  • How is patrol time utilized by cops? Largest breakdown is b/t committed vs. uncommitted time
  • Lots of contradictory evidence about how much time is committed time
  • Regardless, police presence is always provided by patrol, even if officers are “evading” duty.
how effective is patrol14

How effective is Patrol?

Random Patrol

Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment 1972-73

Landmark event in American policing

1st scientific experiment of patrol effectiveness

Funded by 3rd party (Police Foundation)

Research Design

15 Beats divided into 3 groups

Reactive Beats: no preventive patrol, officers only respond

Proactive Beats: beats patrolled 2-3 times normal rate

Control Beats: normal level of patrol

Measured impact of different levels of patrol

patrol effectiveness

Patrol Effectiveness

Research Design

Measured impact of different levels of patrol

Criminal Activity

Reported Crime


Victimization Survey

Community Perceptions and Attitudes

Officer Behavior and Dept Practices

Findings & Implications

No significant effect on:

criminal activity

citizen feelings of safety

citizen attitudes toward the police

crime rates

citizen recognition of different levels of patrol

patrol effectiveness16

Patrol Effectiveness

Explanations for non-findings?

Patrol spread too thin

Crimes occurring indoors unaffected

“Phantom” effect of patrol

Levels of patrol were only thing tested, not officer activities

Stimulated interest in application to tests of Foot Patrol (Newark Foot Patrol Experiment 1978-79)

Similar design


Little or no impact on measurable serious crime

Significant improvement in community perceptions:

less fear of crime

More positive attitudes about police (vice-versa)

police operations17

Police Operations

Police Investigations

1) Police are expected to help prevent crime (most frequently through patrol)

Basic element of COP & POP

Rejects traditional model that police are responsible for crime control

2) Apprehend Criminals

Requirements: a. learning of a crime

b. official recording

c. attempt to ID and arrest

police operations18

Police Operations

Police Investigations

Factors influencing the reporting of crime:

Learn through reactive response most common

Citizen reporting highly discretionary (gatekeepers)

Police rarely discover crimes in progress

Victims report roughly 35% of the time

Influences on reporting: seriousness, violence, injury, expense of loss

Reasons for not reporting: crime unimportant, pessimistic about anything being done, crimes as private

police operations19

Police Operations

Police Investigations

Myths about Detective Work: The CSI complex: Exciting, Requires courage/skill, all crime is “solvable”

Organization of Investigations: located in different unit, size varies tremendously

Detective Position: high status, discretion, autonomy, no uniforms, defined measures of performance

Status varies by unit (homicide highest)

police operations20

Police Operations

Police Investigations

Investigation is 2 Staged Process:

1) Preliminary Investigation (5 Steps)

- ID and arrest of suspect

- Aid to victims (medical)

- Securing crime scene

- Collecting physical evidence

- Preparing preliminary report

Patrol makes 80% of all arrests (suspect near the scene)

police operations21

Police Operations

Police Investigations

2) Follow up investigations

case is assigned to detectives for follow up

- routine activities: interviews, crime scene

- secondary activities: canvassing witnesses, discussing case with super., collecting evidence

- tertiary activities: discussion of case with other officers, interviewing suspects, checking records, conducting stakeouts

police operations22

Police Operations

Police Investigations

Arrest discretion: arrests occur in only about half of the situations where sufficient evidence exists to arrest (Black 1984)

Officers influenced by situational factors: severity, evidence, victim behavior, victim/suspect relationship, suspect demeanor

what is an arrest
What is an arrest?

4 Perspectives:

  • Legal: When a suspect is not free to leave
  • Behavioral: may include command to stop; physical restraint (cuffs)
  • Subjective: Citizen perception
  • Official: arrest report filed, records vary in different departments and at different stages

Consequence? Many people believe an arrest has occurred when no record of an arrest exists

success failure in crime solving
Success/Failure in Crime solving

From a police standpoint, success is when an arrest is made

Most important factor in successful arrest is knowledge of suspect identity

Most common: violent crime; V/O relationship

21% of all reported Index Crimes are cleared

Much of this is due to “structural” factors of the case. Evidence is mixed on whether police can have an impact on investigation success

Technology is not as useful a tool as culture views it (3% of NYPD cases with usable fingerprints result in an arrest)

improving investigation special techniques
Improving Investigation & Special Techniques

Encourage more Cooperation:

  • Between police and citizens
  • Between patrol and detective units

Special Investigation Strategies:

  • Undercover work
    • Problems: socializing officers to “lie”, going native, weakens ties to conventional others, lack of supervision
  • Informants
    • Especially useful in “victimless” crimes (drugs); basis of exchange creates appearances of conflicts of interest; integrity of police; quality of informant info
crimes that define contemporary police work
Crimes that define Contemporary Police Work
  • Drugs
      • Crack has been the defining influence on police work in the past 20 years
      • Business competition in illicit markets creates violence
      • Decrease over the past decade
    • Proactive Approach is somewhat unique relative to police responses to other kinds of crime
contemporary police work drug enforcement strategies
Contemporary Police Work: Drug Enforcement Strategies
  • Supply Reduction
      • Buy & Bust: undercover officers pose as buyers
      • Trading Up: (Identify “kingpins” through lower level dealers as informants)
      • Penetration of Drug Networks through long-term undercover work
      • Crackdown: intensive enforcement in specific areas (neighborhoods)
      • Effective? Generally no…
        • Threat of arrest is not effective as a deterrent – why?
        • Replacement effect in network
        • Trading Up ineffective
  • Demand Reduction
      • Drug Education Programs (DARE)
      • Largely ineffective
  • Continue to operate proactively
      • Generate positive publicity
      • High profile “busts” create the appearance of effectiveness
crimes that define contemporary police work28
Crimes that define Contemporary Police Work
  • Drugs continued:
    • Impact on Minorities in the War on Drugs?
    • Minimal Racial differences in drug use
    • Significant differences in drug arrests
  • Hate Crimes
  • Gangs
  • Domestic Violence?