National Center for Community Policing
School of Criminal Justice
Michigan State University
MSU is an affirmative-action, equal opportunity institution.
This publication was made possible by a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to the School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University. The information contained herein represents the views and conclusions of the authors and not necessarily those of the Mott Foundation, its trustees, or officers.
Copyright © 1986
The National Neighborhood Foot Patrol Center
However, it should be made quite clear at the outset that this paper
is intended to raise more questions than it can answer. It is not designed
to provide a model for optimal training for police officers involved in
community policing. Rather, it serves to identify the kinds of information
that must be gathered before selection and training decisions are
made. It also targets issues, such as cost, that must be resolved before
structuring an effective program for selection and training of police officers
involved in community policing.
Basic Job Assessment
To be able to address training considerations for any job requires knowing what constitutes effective performance of the job in question. All complex organizations, perhaps especially police departments, face a major problem in developing productivity measures that adequately evaluate actual performance. Typically, what is missing from most productivity standards is a thorough job analysis. Unless you know what the job really entails, gauging performance at any organizational level is virtually impossible. What is needed is a clear role definition, one that results from an in-depth study of the group being evaluated.
In the case of police officers, what makes analyzing their job so difficult is that their relationship with the community they serve is so complicated. As Spencer Parrat observed back in 1937, "Police administration is a composite of many variables, behaviors, states of mind or attitudes and external conditioning factors" (Parrat, 1937: 895-905).
Instead of discussing what officers actually do on the job, most police performance literature tends to focus on innate character traits of individual officers. Traits such as intelligence, analytical ability, sensitivity, and moral character are often used as standards in the evaluation process. Administrators who rely on these criteria frequently ascribe poor police performance to a lack of training, or to "failure to recruit the right types of people, failure of society to instill appropriate values in young people of today along with the failure of the educational system to develop appropriate skills" (Christian, 1980: 147).
While such a system relies on standards that risk being dangerously subjective and difficult to assess fairly, administrators with a more quantitative bent risk erring on the side of substituting standards that only superficially appear to be fair and objective. Assessing police performance on the basis of standards based on the number of traffic tickets issued, along with the number of arrests, convictions, security checks, etc., at first seems like a suitable way to measure actual performance. However, the obvious flaw in this system is that the most easily countable items may not be the ones of greatest benefit to the community.
Studies show that police officers typically spend only 20 percent of their time dealing with actual crimes or violations (Goldstein, et al., 1977). The majority of the rest of their time on the job is devoted to service-oriented aspects of the job. In fact, Kelling claims that although it is not an accurate view, "[t]he myth of the police as primarily a crime-fighting, deterring, and investigating agency is deeply engrained in our society." He suggests that if service activities do dominate crime-fighting, then police may need to be recruited and trained differently, training more on conflict management and social relations, improving police-community relations (Kelling, 1978: 174-5).
Communities and neighborhoods are complex social structures, with varying normative patterns. A system of evaluation that employs such simplistic assessments ends up judging activities that have little to do with what is required to do a good job, focusing on only a fraction of how most officer's spend their time. Also, of course, such a system risks promoting abuses. Officers pressured to meet arbitrary "quotas" to secure raises and promotions may well distort the role they should play in favor of fulfilling the administrator's expectations, rather than in providing the kind of police performance the community wants and needs.
The critical issue is how police performance standards and productivity measures can be structured to relate to actual job functions, so that these can be used to project realistic training guidelines. The police role must be defined in ways that can serve as a foundation for effective evaluation. And specifically, the role of the officer in community policing must be defined, keeping in mind that this approach differs from traditional policing because it is a special effort to create a symbiosis between police officers and the communities they serve.
It should be admitted at the outset that little is known about the actual activities of officers involved in community policing programs. Social scientists usually assume community policing differs greatly from traditional motor patrol, and some evidence exists that this assumption is valid, at least in terms of output. But actual comparisons of the functions of community policing and motor patrol are far from exhaustive or definitive. What is known is that motor patrols are reactive, responding to incidents once they occur. "Because the patrol division of any police department is organized to react to citizen requests, it must deal with numerous matters citizens define as police matters. Differences in citizen and police definition of these matters, and expectations concerning enforcement behavior, often give rise to conflict" (Reiss, 171: 70).
Community Policing, on the other hand, attempts to be more proactive, preventing problems from occurring. Motor patrol officers respond to traffic accidents and violations. They also handle various calls for service, monitor suspicious persons or groups, and investigate crimes. While it is true that those activities mean motor patrol officers interact extensively and often intensively with citizens, exchanges are normally reactive and proscriptive.
Motor patrol officers, especially those trained in the school of "professionalism," tend to limit their activities to the incident proper, soliciting a small constellation of "facts." Often, the citizens they deal with are traumatized, either from personal victimization or from the anxiety of being investigated, so they offer little useful information. Under such conditions, officers and citizens both tend to exchange scant information that transcends the parameters of the incident at hand. Therefore, neither contributes much to the identification and resolution of broader community problems.
Increasing police enthusiasm for sophisticated technology also appears to contribute to the absence of social intimacy between officers and citizens. The persuasiveness of telephones, the use of radio dispatches, the isolation of officers in their patrol cars, and the attendant emphasis on rapid police response time have all contributed to depersonalizing the interactions between police and citizens. The resulting irony is that while the number of calls the officers handle has increased, thereby making them more efficient, the quality of policing has been devalued and the exchange of useful information has constricted.
Yet, information is the lifeblood of police work. Acquiring, processing, and interpreting information are critical elements in any effort to deal with crime and other community concerns. Without complete, accurate information on an aggregate scale, police work is much more difficult. Developing linkages between officers and citizens is an integral dimension of law enforcement, since these linkages serve as the conduit through which community needs and values are translated into effective police activity. The interaction implicit in community policing programs can be viewed as a nexus that transforms officers into proactive agents of social control.
To determine the effectiveness, efficiency, and cost benefits of community
policing without a detailed analysis of the activities of both community
police officers and motorized officers is impossible. A comparative perspective
should make it possible to generate two distinct measures of police performance
and service, so that both jobs can be evaluated fairly. In addition, there
must be an analysis of community needs and desires, so that performance
profiles of community policing officers and traditional motorized officers
can be judged fairly in how they reflect the requirements of the communities
Present Training of Police Officers
As alluded to earlier, criticism by police administrators about the performance of their officers usually revolves around selection and training deficiencies. Specifically, they contend that the types of people who apply for and receive police jobs do not automatically become the best officers, and they also insist the current educational system, whether high school or college, fails to prepare young people sufficiently for a career in professional law enforcement.
Most often mentioned as a potential solution is development of a comprehensive, in-depth training program for new officers, though specifics about such training, especially basic training, remain a subject of debate. They also suggest that an ideal system would include identifying basic characteristics required in an effective officer, so that these traits could be codified into a model that could be used in the selection process. Standardizing training is also universally accepted as a valid goal in any attempt to provide effective training overall.
Almost all states in the United States have at least some statement of policy regarding minimum selection and training standards for police officers, though, unfortunately, many states, through their state training councils rely on voluntary compliance. A wise few have mandatory standards for selection and training.
There are many good reasons why standards should be systematically developed and validated.
The study identified a total of 649 separate police tasks that were then segregated into training groups on the basis of (1) activities that are significantly related and (2) inherently related to instructional content that indicates that certain tasks should be grouped together to facilitate the training process" (Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Training Council: Executive Summary, 1980: 14). The result was that several task groups emerged, with several tasks listed beneath each group. Chart I illustrates the titles of the training task groups and the selection task groups.
The process not only included identifying relevant tasks, each task was then rated high, minimum, or low in terms of (1) training priority, (2) task-learning difficulty, and (3) task-delay tolerance. Numbers (1) and (2) are self-explanatory, but task-delay tolerance refers to the consequences that would result if performance of the task is not accomplished quickly. As an example, assessing the task of administering first-aid to victims at the site of a traffic accident would rate a "high" on all three scales. It is inherently a top priority, learning the first-aid skills required is difficult, and delaying the task could result in the death of the victim.
Beyond Job Analysis
Obviously, developing realistic job productivity and performance measures requires a sound basis, and task analysis of the police officers' position is an essential part of the process. It provides the foundation that can help in (1) determining characteristics of the kinds of persons who should be selected as future police officers and (2) providing the proper elements in basic training that can achieve the task objectives.
However, all too often, the process stops with task analysis alone. Yet, the environment in which police officers operate is so complex that task analysis by itself is not enough to provide a solid basis for selection and training standards. Most evaluation systems erroneously assume that it is the police force, in other words the police officers and their supervisors and administrators, who are the sole "users" of the system. Therefore, it follows that most systems rely exclusively on input from individuals working in police departments when they determine what tasks are relevant to police work, and this means that any succeeding task analysis conducted risks reflecting the narrow biases of the police. The broader issues that should be addressed are: Who should determine what tasks the police should perform, what are the priorities, and are these relevant to the community's needs and desires for safety and service?
Obviously, there must be a legal basis for the operation of police officers,
and those laws shape much of the role officers must perform. There are
also basic police tasks, such as apprehending offenders and dealing with
traffic accidents and violations, that no one would dispute. However, what
is often forgotten or ignored by police administrators, policymakers, and
political leaders is that the taxpayers, the residents of the community,
are equal "users" of the system. Therefore, it is vital that they should
have input into the process of developing the role, duties, and functions
of police officers. In this regard, even advanced police departments
have not adequately addressed community input. Indeed, community
policing attempts to take the community into consideration.
The Flint Experiment
The Flint Police Department operated solely with traditional motor or preventive patrols until July 1979, when the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation provided substantial funding for implementation of experimental, community-based foot patrols (Trojanowicz, 1982). Flint's Neighborhood Foot Patrol Program was unique in many ways. It emerged from an initiative that intentionally integrated citizens into the planning and implementation process, through citywide neighborhood meetings in 1977 and 1978. Its mandate was to attack three areas of concern: (1) the absence of comprehensive neighborhood organizations and services, (2) the lack of citizen involvement in crime prevention, and (3) the depersonalization of interactions between officers and residents.
The program began in 1979 with 22 foot patrol officers assigned to 14 experimental areas that comprised about 20 percent of the city's population. The activities and efforts of the foot officers were designed to address seven basic goals:
More extensive reports of the Flint experiment are available, but, briefly, the Flint Neighborhood Foot Patrol Program, reduced the crime rate 8.7 percent. Even more dramatic was the reduction in calls for service, down 42 percent over the period from 1979 to 1982. This reflects the fact that citizens themselves began handling minor problems, with the foot officer acting as a mediator on an informal basis, thereby negating the need for a formal complaint.
Not only was the impact on calls for service significant, research evidence also indicates that the citizens felt safer. They also reported overall satisfaction with the program, felt it had impacted the crime rate positively, and that it had improved police-community relations. Studies also showed foot patrols brought about a closer interaction between citizens and police; 33 percent of neighborhood residents knew their foot patrol officers by name, while 50 percent of the rest could provide accurate descriptions of foot officers.
Citizens also reported feeling that foot officers were more effective than motor patrol officers in encouraging crime reporting, involving citizens in neighborhood crime prevention efforts, working with juveniles, encouraging citizens in self-protection, and following up on complaints. The Flint foot patrol officers themselves reported they felt safer than their motor patrol counterparts. The foot patrol officers said they felt integrated into the communities they serviced, which minimized their sense of isolation, alienation, and fear.
Indeed, the Flint Neighborhood Foot Patrol Program was so successful that the citizens of Flint voted to tax themselves to pay for an expanded program. They passed a tax millage in August 1982 that extended the program to the entire city. Then the three-year tax renewal was passed in June 1985 by a 67 percent margin, even higher than the approval level in 1982. Currently, Flint has 64 foot beats, covering the entire city.
Community policing, whether it is foot patrol parking the squad car and walking for a period of time each day, riding a motorscooter, or some other approach that puts the officers in close contact with the community, is on the increase. There are now more than 200 communities nationwide that have been identified as having some types of community policing program. As mentioned before, because community policing directly involves citizens in the process, assessing performance is even more complex than for traditional motor patrols. Relying on task analysis alone, though it is important, does not address the increased citizen involvement inherent in this program. Again, the question becomes: who determines police tasks and who determines what priority they should have? Community policing implies that community residents not only have an interest but a voice in how their police department operates. The concept implies that they should have continual input in determining the tasks they feel are most important.
Increasingly, the growing number of police departments establishing community-based programs are seeking input from community residents. In fact, in many communities, the impetus for such programs begins at the grass-roots level in the community itself. Residents identify tasks they feel are necessary for an improvement in their quality of life, then they transmit those needs and desires to the police department so that they can work together to improve public safety.
Chart 4 illustrates one type of a short police service questionnaire that can be used to obtain input and opinions relevant to police service. Obviously, there are a number of other methods that can be used to gather information other than a formal survey. Face-to-face interaction is, by far, the best method, but when a community is large, and broad-based input in necessary, a survey may be the most feasible method available.
It should also be noted that soliciting input from community residents
is not without its share of detractors. Many police administrators and
politicians are reluctant to relinquish any of their authority in setting
up guidelines concerning what tasks the police should perform in the community.
So adding this component to the job analysis process as a means of determining
selection and training standards is potentially controversial.
Motor and Foot Patrol Profiles
Using community input to determine and update the police role is an important element in developing police tasks" which ultimately provides a measure for police performance. However, since community policing in its present form is a relatively new phenomenon, and because its focus is decidedly different than traditional policing, making specific judgments about the differences between motor and foot patrols is difficult.
In Flint, Michigan, even though both foot patrol officers and motor patrol officers provide full-service law enforcement, the foot officers have a special additional mandate to make a conscious effort to focus on the social service aspects of the job, bringing problems to a resolution. The goal is to have the officer act as a community diagnostician, catalyst, a linkage person, an educator, and a specialist in crime prevention. Since they patrol and interact in the same areas day after day, week after week, they are expected to develop a degree of intimacy with community residents that can translate into an effective, cooperative relationship. And besides individual face-to-face meetings, they are also expected to communicate through public speaking, and by preparing information for community newsletters.
That makes the two forms of patrol in Flint very different. Each operates on its own relatively distinct organizational objectives, and each has its own managerial pattern. Foot officers mobilize citizens in order to provide a matrix within which the community can identify and deal with many of its own problems, including, but not limited exclusively, to crime. With the advice, consent, and direction of citizens, foot officers target, address, and resolve specific community-level concerns-juvenile alienation, victimization of the aged, neighborhood safety and security, and so on.
This means a foot patrol officer's roster of duties to perform that day might include identifying various community residents who would be willing to help set up athletic programs for young people during the summer, youngsters who would otherwise have too much free time on their hands. Later, the officer might address a senior citizens' group about home security. One creative Flint foot patrol officer resolved a problem community residents were having with a gang of young people who were tearing up a local park by working with these youngsters to help them see themselves as protectors of the facility. This effort transformed the young people from vandals into guardians.
Another unique and important element in the community policing approach is its focus on quality-of-life issues. For example, many community residents rightly perceive "disorder" as more of a concern than actual crime. Abandoned cars, deteriorating vacant buildings, unrepaired potholes in the street, all contribute to an atmosphere of urban decay. Neighborhoods that appear to be on their way down often become magnets for crime (Wilson and Kelling, 1982).
In the role as liaison between community residents and the other official agents of social control, including both governmental and nongovernmental agencies, the foot patrol officer helps first by identifying the problems. Then the officer mobilizes community support to attack the problems, serving as the link between the community and the appropriate agencies. And, because of the mandate to carry problems through to resolution, the foot patrol officer provides whatever follow-up might be necessary to insure the agencies responsible take effective action. In this role as community catalyst, the foot patrol officer works in tandem with the community to provide grass-roots solutions to problems that might otherwise go unchecked, engendering an environment in which crime can breed.
In comparison, motor officers continue to adhere to the narrow preventive strategy of "crime control," reacting only to events after they occur. Most motor patrol officers perceive social service as an annoying interlude between bursts of "real" police activity-pursuit, investigation, arrest. Foot officers, on the other hand, enjoy a comprehensive, integrated, and realistic sense of being involved directly in the community, as social service agents whose work helps provide community-based crime control.
While motor officers suffer long periods of inactivity between bouts of frenzied, intense activity, foot officers maintain a more consistent level of goal-oriented activity. During "down" periods, most motor officers do not use their skills in proactive efforts. Foot officers not only exercise their proactive skills constantly, they also develop and nurture new talents in the community, through their linkage and catalyst capacities.
The supervisory and management role in foot patrol is not as directed and uniform as it is in motor patrol. Supervisory and command personnel involved in community policing serve as resources and conduits for foot patrol officers and their communities. They become the repository for citywide information, which facilitates community involvement in the crime-prevention and crime-solving process. Ideally, supervisors coordinate and prioritize community activities according to available resources and community needs. The goal is to avoid imposing cumbersome bureaucratic procedures on either the foot patrol officers or the community residents.
While the foregoing helps to capture the flavor of the differences between motor and foot patrol, the distinctions drawn are quite general. To determine the specific differences in the tasks each group performs, a research study was designed to develop performance profiles of foot versus motor officers (Payne and Trojanowicz, 1985). By analyzing the daily reports filed by foot and motor officers during October 1983 and May 1984 (chosen to avoid peaks and lulls in police activity), it was determined that there were nine categories of activity common to both foot patrol and motor patrol (see Chart 5): felony arrests, misdemeanor arrests, investigations initiated (through observation or citizen report); establishing value of recovered property; investigations assigned (by a radio dispatcher or field supervisor); noting premises found open; stopping suspicious person(s); parking violations; and public service rendered (a general category that includes assisting motorists, aiding stranded visitors, etc.).
The study also identified seven areas of activity foot patrol officers perform exclusively (see Chart 6):
Motor patrol officers have four activities they perform exclusively (see Chart 7):
An analysis of the data contained in these three charts concerning tasks performed by motor patrol officers and foot officers shows that motor patrol accounts for a greater number of the common activities. For example, motor officers produced six times the number of felony arrests than their foot officer counterparts logged, and they were assigned three times the number of investigations by dispatchers or supervisors compared to foot patrol officers. On the other hand, foot officers initiated almost twice as many investigations on their own, when compared to motor officers, and they provided roughly seven and a half times the number of services to the public.
The results also show that foot officers self-initiated many more activities than their motor counterparts. Activities initiated by foot officers also focused on the activities that only they perform, such as making business and home visits, business and home security checks, etc. In comparison, the self-initiated tasks per-formed by motor officers focused on issuing hazardous and nonhazardous tags to motorists, as well as policing some traffic accidents, and all these activities are exclusively the province of motor officers. What Table 5 shows is that traditional police work is dominated by motor officers, while Table 6 shows that foot officers engage citizens in direct contact in a proactive mode far more than their motor counterparts do.
The study also addressed the issue of the quality of officer-resident contact. Table 8 shows that foot officers had substantially more contact with citizens than motor officers did, adding in the number of people in the audience where foot officers gave speeches might skew the results even further. In any event, while foot officers claimed 3,964 contacts compared to 2,778 for motor officers, a further effort was made to distinguish between adversarial and nonadversarial contact, a critical element in police-resident relations. The results show that 91 percent of the foot officers' contacts with the community were nonadversarial, while the reverse, 91 percent of motor officers' contacts were adversarial.
Besides establishing the kinds of tasks each patrol performs and the types of community contacts they make, the study also analyzed the time involved in performing these various police tasks. The results show that both motor and foot officers spend time in training, roll call, patrol, and dealing with complaints. The study also identified six time components exclusive to foot patrol and three that are exclusively the job of motor patrol. Time components exclusive to foot patrol include: working with senior citizens, speaking at schools, office work, administration, juvenile activity, and meetings. The three time components exclusive to motor patrol are: responding to alarms, traffic stops, and desk/court duties.
Table 9 shows how foot and motor patrols spend their time. The first four activities, the ones both patrols share in common, reveal that foot officers spend about eight times the amount of time in training compared to motor officers. This stems from the fact foot patrol officers in the program regularly attend scheduled training programs beyond firearms training, while no similar training exists for motor patrol.
Foot patrol officers also spend two and a half times more time at roll call compared to motor officers. This reflects the fact motor officers spend only about 12 minutes a day at roll call, since it is designed to be a more formal kind of information exchange. Foot patrol officers spend roughly a half hour at roll call because it is targeted to address a number of other functions. First, it provides a vehicle for foot officers to share information about conditions on their beat with other officers in their sector, in addition to assigning specific complaints. Foot patrol roll call is a more informal dialogue, serving as an information exchange mechanism for the officers and a feedback mechanism for the supervisor.
The time component study also shows that motor patrol officers expend 12 times the effort on complaints compared to foot officers. This is because their quick response time and mobility often make them the logical choice for such calls. However, it should also be noted that dispatchers and supervisors do not always make sufficient use of foot patrol as resource personnel to handle complaints. Only a small percentage of calls for service demand immediate attention. Efforts have been made to continue to educate those who assign complaints about the increased role foot officers could play. The study also shows foot patrol and motor officers spend about the same amount of time on patrol, though again the nature of that activity differs greatly, since motor patrol officers are isolated in vehicles, while foot officers are visible and accessible on the street.
Table 10 shows that the amount of time that foot officers spend performing the kinds of activities they share in common with motor patrol (training, roll call, patrol, and complaints) constitutes far less of their average workday than it does for motor officers. Foot Patrol officers spend roughly 65 percent of their time involved in these four comparable activities, while motor officers spend approximately 94 percent of their time on these activities the two patrols share in common. It is quite apparent this difference stems primarily from the vast difference in the amount of time spent handling complaints. While training requires roughly 5 percent of a foot officer's time, compared to only I percent for motor officers, and roll call consumes almost 7 percent of the foot officer's day, compared to less than 3 percent for a motor officer's, the big difference is that handling complaints takes up 41 percent of the motor officer's time, but less than 4 percent of the foot officer's workday (see Chart I 1).
As Chart II shows, foot officers spend the bulk of this time they save performing the six activities they exclusively provide (listed as "other" in the chart): senior citizen activities, speaking at schools, office work, administration, juvenile activity, and meetings. This means they are spending slightly more than a third of their time performing primarily proactive kinds of duties that would otherwise go undone, since they do not constitute part of the motor officer's duties.
Also of note in the time component analysis (Chart 9) is the cost component that can be used to determine certain costs associated with the two different kinds of patrols. The study showed that by using both direct and indirect costs, I percent of a foot officer's day costs $1.90, while I percent of a motor officer's day costs $1.99. Most of the increased cost for a motor officer stems from the increased cost to provide a patrol car and the slightly higher administrative costs that accrue because of a lower supervisor-to-supervisee ratio.
Using those figures to analyze the patrol time figures, it would seem that since both kinds of officers spend roughly the same amount of time on patrol, the cost to provide this service does not differ depending on the type of officer involved. However, after all activities are organized into specific time blocks, the data show that foot officers make use of this free patrol time to perform business and home visits and security checks, locate open premises, check on suspicious persons, and perform public service duties. The foot officers' daily log sheets show they average one such activity every 41 minutes they are on free patrol.
In comparison, motor officers log only one activity for every 81 minutes on free patrol, with their activities focusing on the duties they provide exclusively. As a result, a cost comparison showing it costs $16.23 for each service a foot patrol officer provides, compared to $33.58 for each service a motor patrol officer performs. A cursory look makes it appear taxpayers are getting almost twice the "bang for their patrol buck" from foot patrol, but this graphically illustrates why such comparisons and judgments are not so easily made. For instance, $33.58 seems cheap if the activity the motor patrol officer is performing is administering first-aid to a traffic accident victim who might die otherwise, while $16.23 does not seem such a bargain if the foot patrol officer's activity is telling a stranded visitor to Flint that his motel is around the comer.
What this entire study proves is that one kind of patrol can never substitute for the other; they are complementary. What price tag can you attach to an incident when a motor officer arrives in time to prevent someone's death? On the other hand, what price tag is justified to reflect the benefits that derive from the increased intimacy and goodwill between officer and resident implicit in community policing? Consider the role each kind of patrol can play in a potential business break-in. Once the crime is in progress, the quick response capability that motor patrol can provide might be able to provide the intervention necessary to prevent violence from erupting. On the other hand, an effective foot patrol officer, through proactive efforts, might have thwarted that crime before it occurred, by teaching the store owner how to harden his site against such crimes. Or perhaps their combined efforts prevented tragedy because the foot officer advised the owner to install the alarm that brought the motor patrol assistance.
What price tag can fairly be placed on the efforts made by both patrols? And what price tag should be attached to the benefits that derive from the increased intimacy between officer and resident implicit in community policing?
While this study shows how officers in Flint spend their time now, it
cannot be expected to assess how those roles are changing. The community
input that is an integral part of the foot patrol program will undoubtedly
lead to change, which has implications for training and selection. For
instance, dealing with the homeless and with the growing numbers of mainstreamed
mental patients who wander the streets creating a sense of disorder was
not targeted as a primary goal in the Flint program. Over time, however,
community residents may well decide this is a function they want their
foot patrol officer to provide. To do the job requires teaming about the
problems those groups face, as well as what agencies are there to help.
Indeed, without community input, such a task might never become part of
the foot officer's job.
Police Officer Input Into Training
Chart 2 shows that in the 440 hours of basic training that Michigan police officers receive, relatively little time is spent learning skills that relate directly to the foot patrol officer's special mandate. A look at the curriculum shows that some elements taught as part of patrol procedures provide some training in the special skills required. Interpersonal relations/ conflict mediation accounts for nine of the 46-hour patrol procedure package, divided among topics such as interpersonal relations, family dispute mediation, and civil dispute mediation. An additional six hours of patrol procedure training devoted to working with juvenile offenders and their families also directly applies.
This total of 15 hours of training means that slightly less than 3 percent of the future foot patrol officer's training time is spent learning the skills that are critical in performance of this special mandate. This illustrates why not only should community residents be a primary source of input on what they expect from their police department and its officers, the officer who actually performs the job should also have a strong say concerning what kinds of training would provide him or her the skills required to do a good job.
Sixty-four foot patrol officers each have an individual beat in Flint, and together they cover the entire city. Fifty-seven foot patrol officers were interviewed to solicit their opinions on training needs for community policing officers, as well as to identify personal characteristics that could be used as selection criteria. (The total does not add up to sixty-four because of resignations and suspensions.) The interviews focused on three main concerns: what special training had these officers received, what kind of training did they say they want and need, and what kind of person do they think makes the best foot patrol officer.
First, the 57 foot patrol officers were asked: What training have you received that pertains specifically to foot patrol: 28 percent reported receiving no special training at all, while 72 percent said they received at least some special training for the job.
Of those who said they had received special training, 31 percent reported attending a special three-day seminar on community policing at Michigan State University. This training option included seminars on the history of community policing, techniques and methods of involving the community in the crime-prevention and crime-solving process, special techniques foot officers can use to diagnose community needs, how to link problem citizens to appropriate social services in the community, and methods of organizing block clubs and neighborhood associations. In addition, the program offered information and training in media relations, labor management issues, human relations, and communications. Guest speakers from community policing programs across the nation, from cities such as New York and Miami, also provided seminars on their programs, including methods of operation.
Again, of those who said they had received some special training, the greatest number (56%) said their training consisted of a two and one half day program presented by the Flint Police Department, specific for foot patrol officers. This program covered topics ranging from learning Flint ordinances, to identifying community resources, to understanding how to interface with other units of the Flint Police Department.
The second most common form of special training involved a brief orientation, ranging from two hours to half a day. These sessions typically provided an explanation of the role and function of foot patrol officers, with experienced Flint foot officers on hand to answer questions. Thirty-nine percent of the officers who said they had received special training reported this was the form the additional training had taken. The remaining 7 percent said their training consisted of learning about the duties, roles, and functions of foot officers on their own, by reading materials about foot patrol or studying various materials on community policing. (Percentages total more than 100 percent because some officers received more than one type of training.) All of this special community policing training was, of course, in addition to the basic police academy training each officer must complete before becoming a sworn officer of the Flint Police Department.
As these results show, training among Flint foot patrol officers varied widely. Some received intense instruction, with detailed, specific information about the roles, duties, and issues of the foot patrol officer's job. Those who attended the three-day Michigan State University conference were also exposed to information about other programs nationwide. On the other hand, others simply had to learn what they could on their own, while a substantial number received no targeted training at all.
The Flint foot patrol officers were then asked: What additional training would have been helpful to you as a foot officer? A third (33 percent) offered no suggestions, but two-thirds (67 percent) provided specific suggestions that fell into three broad categories:
Category One included an update on laws and ordinances. Many foot patrol officers said they wanted training that would keep them current on all laws, not just ones specific to foot patrol. For instance, they wanted information on OUIL (Operating Under the Influence of Liquor) and traffic tickets, though typically these are used by motor patrol officers. What foot patrol officers also wanted was constant updating about city services, since these are constantly changing, and they play an important role in the community policing officer's role as the community's linkage person to other agencies. The foot patrol officers also said they wanted continuing information concerning city organizations, ranging from the Salvation Army to mental health and employment services and agencies.
Category Two involved training in public speaking and organizational skills. Because foot patrol officers do a great deal of public speaking, both to groups and on a one-to-one basis, they said they wanted assistance in finetuning these skills. In addition, they also stressed the need for more emphasis in training on human relations skills in general. In particular, they also wanted more information about how to organize block clubs and recreational programs. A number said they wanted training in how to organize programs and activities for the elderly, including information on how to maintain and sustain such programs.
Category Three discussed the need for increased training in conflict management. Many officers expressed great concern that they needed more help in learning how to deal with spouse abuse, child abuse, tenant problems, and general family problems. In addition, many officers said they would benefit from structured opportunities for interaction among foot patrol officers, so they could share experiences and identify what does and does not work in the field. The officers also said they wanted more knowledge, assistance, and experience in identifying psychological problems among their residents, so that they could make appropriate referrals.
While these results help identify training needs, from the foot patrol officer's perspective, they also help identify potential criteria for the job selection process. The Flint foot patrol officers were asked specifically: What type of people make the best foot officers? The following responses add up to more than 100 percent because some officers provided multiple answers.
The most important characteristics a foot patrol officer should have
35% Self motivation, independent, innovative
33% Communication skills
30% Compassion and caring
23% Extrovertion, friendly
12% Community service oriented, sells program
12% Extensive police experience
11% Ability to motivate people, likes to work with people
7% Flexibility, open-mindedness, adaptability
7% Organizational skills
It should be noted that these answers were given within the context
that police officers need a sound legal basis for their operations and
actions. In addition, it was also assumed that all officers would be trained
in firearms, first-aid, and CPR. However, the skill areas identified as
important by foot patrol officers differ greatly from the areas motor patrol
officers typically identify as necessary for the effective operation of
Issues and Limitations
In our attempt to ultimately determine an appropriate training model for community policing, we have discussed manners of acquiring the necessary information to build such a model. However, we must also be aware of various issues and limitations previously pointed out in the law enforcement literature. For instance, Reiss (1971: 53) claims that officers are most likely to be hostile and derisive when the citizens are antagonistic and disrespectful. However, Wilson (1978: 29) warns that "what is true about public opinion is less important than what the police think is true because a misinterpretation or personal experience is harder to correct than a misreading of an opinion poll." This suggests that in our attempt to evaluate the police officers' interaction with the community, we must examine their perceptions of problems, regardless of the reality of existence as actual problems.
Kelling (1978: 180) discusses the importance of availability and management of information: "How can we improve the quality and quantity of police-citizen contacts so that citizens report more crime, give police information-both formally and informally-about crime patterns, and discuss their concerns?" This is an important issue to examine in our questioning of citizens concerning their needs and ideas of optimal policing. However, a limitation that Krajik (1978: 13-14) discovered in an analysis of a Kansas City directed patrol experiment was a disappointing response from the citizens-they did not want to get involved, and police officers ended up feeling like "salesmen."
A final caveat that Krajik (lbid: 8) discloses in an analysis of the
New Haven, Connecticut, "Demand-runs" experiment is that "officers do not
like to be told what to do on patrol. In fact, many of them like their
jobs for the very reason that they are independent." This is inevitably
a potential problem in changing the definition of police work and the role
of the police officer, such as in a transition to community policing.
This publication began by pointing out that performance and productivity are impossible to evaluate unless there is a firm understanding of the role of and expectations for police officers in modem society. In addition, that role must be analyzed, and Michigan was used to illustrate the kind of training standards that some progressive states provide. Michigan was also used as an example of how a task analysis of the police officer job can be used to develop a model of behaviors and characteristics that can assist in selecting suitable future police officers. Mic