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Article

Police Training and Education  

John DeCarlo

The issue of educational entry requirements for police officers has been a perennial one. Since August Vollmer first broached the topic of police education as a serious consideration, there have been opinions on both sides of the subject. A number of presidential commissions have examined the question of a police minimum education requirement, and numerous academic studies have attempted to empirically define predictor variables which correlate higher education and different training methods with police performance. Although progress has been made in training and educating police differently, policy on police training continues to remain an important subject.

Article

Private vs. Public Policing: Innovation and Creativity in Local Law Enforcement  

Stephen T. Holmes, Ross Wolf, and Bryan M. Holmes

Private and public policing agencies share a rich history. Each was set up, designed, and organized to address specific problems, whether street crime or corporate security. Each organization type has its strengths and weaknesses depending on its environment and the types of duties assigned. However, it is only in the early 21st century that city government actors have begun to look at private police agencies as a way to supplement traditional policing services at a lower cost. The extant literature is replete with articles detailing the scope, nature, and legal authority of private police agencies, but little real-world experimentation has been done where private police agencies have been used to supplement police services in diverse high-crime neighborhoods. This article examines the history of both public and private police agencies and then details the results of an experiment in Orange County, Florida, where the sheriff contracted with one of the world’s largest private police agencies to patrol and provide additional police services to two communities in need. The results can be generalized to communities that are most in need of police services.

Article

Community Policing in Comparative Perspective  

Jacques de Maillard and Jan Terpstra

Community (oriented) policing has become one of the most popular models of policing worldwide. After its initial implementation in many Western countries, community policing has also been transferred to transitional societies, which often lack strong democratic traditions. The international diffusion of community policing should not make us forget that community policing comes in all shapes and sizes and is highly varied in its operations. After having defined the concept and analyzed its rise in Anglo-American countries, this diversity is illustrated by scrutinizing its implementation in different national configurations: a continental European country relatively open to Anglo-American influences (the Netherlands), socially homogeneous countries with a high level of trust in the police (the Nordic countries), a centralized country with an administrative Napoleonic tradition (France), and postconflict societies (South Africa and Northern Ireland). These various national trajectories highlight the common drivers and barriers in community policing reforms: political priorities (through emphasizing crime fighting or zero tolerance policing), socioeconomic disparities and ethnic tensions (which may imply a history of mistrust and vicious circles between the police and some segments of the public), professional identities and interests (disqualifying community police officers as “social workers”), and organizational resources (managerial procedures, lack of training and human resources) that may hinder the reform process. These diverse experiences also draw attention to the variety of context-dependent factors that impact the fate of community policing reforms. Political climates, police–government relations, socioeconomic inequalities, and police traditions may differ, which requires further analysis of the various political, historical, socioeconomic, and cultural contexts of specific community policing reforms.

Article

Law Enforcement and Public Health  

Isabelle Bartkowiak-Théron

The law enforcement and public health (LEPH) movement is an emerging area of practice and scholarship that aims to consolidate responses and research addressing a range of complex issues relating to areas of crime and deviance that are deeply rooted in public ill-health. Despite recent growth in political, professional, and academic interest, LEPH collaborations are not new. However, LEPH collaborative problem-solving and the associated delivery of support services to the communityremain difficult to implement, sustain, and evaluate. LEPH is a promising platform from which to view systemic change unfold, and its future appears to be increasingly important given the current calls for the abolishment or defunding of the police, with the accompanying recommendation to re-fund public health services. The opportunities for shared practices and language, as well as the debates around disciplinary remits (particularly how these remits necessarily overlap in practice), focus on how vulnerable people can benefit from the articulation or integration of joined support services in health and criminal justice. Collaborative endeavors in LEPH are not only desirable but also necessary to effectively address the significant overlapping issues presented to police and public health agencies. In a context of global public dissatisfaction with the public sector and the entrenchment of inequality and deprivation, LEPH efforts may offer the next best step to address the ways in which communities have been disadvantaged by inflexibly siloed areas of government.

Article

Race, Ethnicity, and Police–Community Relations  

Jennifer H. Peck and Richard L. Elligson

The relationship between race, ethnicity, and police–community relations can be traced through the historical development of the United States. Through the eras of slavery, the Civil Rights movement, and, most recently, the Black Lives Matter movement, police–community relations with racial and ethnic minorities are a complex and complicated area of inquiry. Although research has shown that Blacks hold the most negative perceptions of police, followed by Hispanics and then Whites, understanding race relations between minority citizens and law enforcement is tied to numerous issues. The individual and combined effects of disadvantaged neighborhood characteristics, personal and vicarious experiences with police, and media exposure to high-profile incidents of police–citizen encounters are only a few of the factors that relate to differences in police–community relations across racial/ethnic groups. To mitigate the negative effect of media exposure of high-profile incidents related to police perceptions and behaviors, organizational justice is one component of law enforcement that may offer some perspective. Additional issues that are correlated with police–community relations for Blacks and Hispanics are greater levels of mistrust between minorities and the police, over- and underenforcement in minority communities, and negative perceptions of police legitimacy and procedural justice held by minorities. Problems surrounding police culture, cynicism, and misconduct (e.g., use of force) are further areas that connect to police–community relations and are more salient for minority residents than for their White counterparts. Practices such as the use of evidence-based policing, invested partnerships between social services and law enforcement, the fair and effective use of authority and force by police, and understanding the specific needs of minority communities may provide promising areas for the enhancement of police–community relations with minorities.

Article

Police Legitimacy, Procedural Justice, and Formal Social Control  

Robert E. Worden, Beau P. Holladay, and Sarah J. McLean

Procedurally just policing (PJP) has been hailed as a path to greater police legitimacy—which is to say, public trust and confidence in police and a sense of obligation to defer to police and obey the law. Greater police legitimacy is expected to lead to improved public cooperation with law enforcement, such as in reporting crime and calling the police. PJP entails treating people with respect, allowing them “voice,” and demonstrating that their needs and concerns have been taken into account and that police decisions rest on facts and the law. Police agencies can promote PJP by training officers, deploying body-worn cameras, and enhancing the fairness with which officers are treated by the organization. Empirical evidence on these expectations is mixed and raises a number of issues that preclude causal inferences, calling for a careful assessment of research methods and findings.

Article

Police, Media, and Popular Culture  

Alyce McGovern and Nickie D. Phillips

The relationship between the police and the media is complex, multidimensional, and contingent. Since the turn of the 20th Century and the development of modern-day policing, the police and the media have interacted with one another in some way, shape, or form. The relationship has often been described as symbiotic and can be characterized as ebbing and flowing in terms of the power dynamics that exist. For the police, the media present a powerful opportunity to communicate with the public about crime threats and events, as well as police successes. For the media, crime events make up a significant portion of media content, and access to police sources assists journalists in constructing such content. But the police–media relationship is not always cozy, and at times, tensions and conflicts arise. The increasing professionalization of police media communications activities has further challenged the nature and scope of the police–media relationship. Not only has the relationship become more formalized, driven by police policies and practices that are concerned with managing the media, but it has also been challenged by the very nature of the media. Changes to the media landscape have presented police organizations with a unique opportunity to become media organizations in their own right. The proliferation of police reality television programming, together with the rise of social media, has served to broaden the ways in which the police engage with the media in the pursuit of trust, confidence, and legitimacy; however, this has also opened the police up to increasing scrutiny as citizen journalism and other forms of counterveillance challenge the preferred police image.

Article

Race and Police Misconduct Cases  

Andrea M. Headley and Kwan-Lamar Blount-Hill

Racial disparities abound in policing, and police misconduct is no exception. Literature on race and police misconduct can be categorized into three sub-themes: race and (a) civilian complaints about police misconduct, (b) public perceptions about police misconduct, and (c) officer perceptions of police misconduct. Racial disparities are apparent in the resolution of civilian complaints, and in perceptions of the ubiquity and severity of police misconduct. People of color may not always view accountability systems as legitimate or feel comfortable using formal complaint processes as a means of resolve. Officers of color report being disadvantaged by internal compliant processes, observing more misconduct than do their White peers, and feeling less comfortable with informal codes of silence. All officers generally rate misconduct involving use of force against civilians of color as more serious when compared to similar incidents involving white individuals. Officers of color, in particular, are more likely to admit beliefs that police treat people differently based on race and income. As with police outcomes more generally, race-based disparities in measures of misconduct likely persist due to a combination of complex and interconnected individual-, institutional-, and societal-level factors. Further research is needed. Lack of comprehensive reporting mechanisms nationwide poses challenges for scholars studying misconduct. There needs to be a greater diversity of methods used to study misconduct, including qualitative methods, and more evaluative studies of the variety of policies proposed as solutions to misconduct. The contexts of misconduct research must also be expanded beyond the United States and the Global North/West to offer international and comparative insights.

Article

Crime Analysis in Policing  

Eric L. Piza and Rachael A. Arietti

Crime analysis involves the use of data to study crime-related problems. This includes identifying spatial and temporal patterns of crime events, understanding the characteristics of crime scenes, and identifying high-risk victims and offenders. Work products of crime analysts provide police the ability to understand the nature of crime problems in their jurisdiction. This information is then used to develop crime prevention interventions. Crime analysis is a requirement of the types of proactive, focused, problem-solving activities that work best in policing. Crime analysis can be categorized into four broad types: crime intelligence analysis, tactical crime analysis, strategic crime analysis, and administrative crime analysis. Crime mapping has become an important skill that cuts across the different crime analysis types and informs many activities of modern police agencies. The crime analysis profession has increased in size and scope over the early 21st century. However, some core components of crime analysis have existed in policing as far back as the mid-1800s in Great Britain and the early 1900s in the United States. The evidence-based policing movement—which advocates for policy solutions to be based on scientific evidence about what works best in preventing crime—presents opportunities for further advancement of the crime analysis profession. Barriers to maximizing the benefits of crime analysis relate to inconsistent training standards, reliance on outdated models of policing, and a lack of clarity regarding roles and agency standing for crime analysts. An increased commitment to applied research efforts may help navigate these barriers in the future.

Article

Higher Education in Law Enforcement and Racial Disparity in Arrests  

Thaddeus L. Johnson, Natasha N. Johnson, Sarah Sepanik, and Maria H. Lee

Raising the educational standards for police officers represents a perennial police reform theme in the United States. Among other benefits, proponents herald college degree requirements as key to improving the quality and fairness of policing outcomes, including the chief formal response to crime: arresting suspected lawbreakers. However, the evidence base regarding college education requirements’ consequences for agency arrest behaviors is formative for various reasons, namely, the absence of studies examining whether these policies contribute to racially equitable arrest outcomes. The presented data show steeper decreases in the racial gap in Black and White people arrested for degree-requiring agencies compared to nondegree-requiring agencies between 2000 and 2016. Albeit encouraging news, the disparity rate for agencies with a college standard remains relatively higher. While what is implied is that college degree requirements alone will not resolve racial disparities in police arrests, it is premature to draw concrete conclusions about this often taken-for-granted association until more rigorous research is conducted.

Article

Policing and Missing Persons  

Lorna Ferguson and Aiden Sidebottom

Each year millions of people go missing across the globe. They do so for a number of reasons, including social conflict, natural disasters, political unrest, various personal and economic stressors, mental health issues, and as a result of an accident, foul play, or natural death. In most countries, and for most incidents, it is the police who are called upon to investigate reports of missing persons. This typically involves a process of risk assessment, investigation, and search and rescue, similar in many ways to a criminal investigation. Responding to reports of missing persons is a major source of demand for the police service, and a significant challenge, owing to common weaknesses in relevant data, the complexities in assessing risk, and a general lack of police-oriented applied research on the subject of missing people. Moreover, although most missing persons return swiftly, safely, and without the need for police intervention, a small but considerable proportion of missing people experience harm when missing, including an immediate threat to life. Further research is needed to better identify what works to reduce missing incidents and associated harms.

Article

Policing and Gender  

Katharine L. Brown and Natalie Todak

Given policing’s hypermasculine subculture, organizational structure based on hegemonic masculinity, and persistent lack of diversity among police forces nationwide, it is clear that gender has been an influential force in policing since its inception. However, while the issue has interested scholars for decades, countless questions persist surrounding its role in perpetuating many of the social problems facing policing today, such as the following: Would hiring more women and gender-nonconforming officers improve citizen perceptions of police? Would it result in more positive interactions and outcomes between citizens and police officers? How do citizen and officer gender dynamics shape the outcomes of interactions and cases, particularly gendered cases such as intimate partner violence and sexual assault? Can LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) liaison officers help to mend decades of tension between police and queer communities? Each of these gender-related questions and more have implications for the experiences of police officers, organizations, and communities and for the future of American policing overall.

Article

Civilian Oversight of Police in the United States  

Taryn Zastrow and Danielle S. Rudes

Civilian oversight of police is a tool commonly used in cities across the United States to hold police accountable for misconduct. Law enforcement agencies have a history of violence, brutality, and misconduct, specifically toward marginalized populations. Thus, oversight of police by civilians can be traced to the early 20th century, but models for implementing oversight have evolved over time. Literature on civilian oversight identifies three contemporary oversight models: investigative agencies, review boards, and auditor/monitor agencies. These models play different roles in providing oversight of police, including independently investigating civilian complaints, reviewing internal investigations of complaints, developing recommendations for police executives, and overseeing department practices and patterns. However, oversight agencies and boards often lack any legal power to enforce their recommendations, making them virtually ineffective. The lack of power held by oversight agencies can be traced to political pushback as well as conflicting organizational models within police departments. Given the variability between and within different oversight models, scholars have struggled to adequately study these agencies. However, some proposed solutions to ineffective oversight have been identified in the literature, including making the oversight agencies more autonomous. Further, when civilian oversight agencies are improved and public confidence in them increases, agencies should be provided with adequate resources to deal with the potential influx of civilian complaints.

Article

Consent Decrees and Police Reform  

John L. Worrall and Zachary A. Powell

Charged with enforcing the law and regulating human behavior, the police have considerable leeway in their ability to control the population. On occasion, situations arise in which police officers misuse their authority, resulting in racially discriminatory practices, illegal searches and seizures, abusive use of force, or other forms of misbehavior. In some cases, unconstitutional practices are isolated incidents that are restricted to the actions of a small group of officers; in other cases, misbehavior may be more emblematic of a systemic problem within a criminal justice agency. To the extent that a pattern or practice of unconstitutional behavior exists, the interest of any government, and the people governed, is in limiting official misconduct. One method of correcting unconstitutional behavior is through a consent decree, a court-ordered agreement following a major U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation that is designed to correct long-standing unconstitutional practices within police departments. Despite the fact that consent decrees have been available to the DOJ for nearly 25 years, their use is somewhat limited (especially lately, in light of the Trump administration’s resistance to their use). A small body of evidence suggests there is promise for consent decrees as a tool for correcting police misbehavior. Existing studies show consent decrees are correlated with boosted citizen perceptions of treated police departments, lower counts of civil rights litigation, and improved methods for recording and disciplining police misbehavior. The influence of a consent decree may gradually build up over time before lapsing post-treatment. In addition, focus group interviews with law enforcement officers suggest that many express apprehension about the goals of reform and the impact on the day-to-day lives of police officers. A number of questions remain unanswered that require further exploration from the field.

Article

Measuring Homicide by Police  

Matthew Renner

When police officers end a human life, the social ramifications can be immense. Recent high-profile instances of homicide by police in the United States have served as a reminder of their potential impacts. Beyond the tragic loss of life and their acute effect on the people directly involved, these incidents have become a source of broad social conflict. At many points throughout American history, homicides by police have sparked protest and civil unrest, as well as catalyzed major social movements and countermovements that have profoundly altered the direction of the nation’s politics. Social scientists have long recognized the importance of studying homicides by police to understand their causes and consequences. Efforts to do so have historically been hampered by the poor quality of data on the phenomenon. Traditional methods of measuring homicides by police that rely on voluntary reporting by law enforcement agencies or information from death certificates have been shown to be inadequate for most empirical research applications. New and improved methods of measurement began emerging around 2010. They involve compiling information on homicides by police reported by news media and/or combining multiple sources of information to measure the phenomenon, and represent a tremendous improvement. These new methods have led to the production of data that have deepened people’s knowledge of homicide by police. Even so, these data are not perfect. Researchers should be aware of the various measurement issues that may arise when employing them. Finally, as measurement of homicide by police has improved, the ability to measure nonfatal police violence has not done so correspondingly. Poor measurement of nonfatal police violence continues to limit scientific understanding of homicide by police and police violence more generally.

Article

Rural and Remote Policing  

Rick Ruddell

Although many city residents think of life in the countryside as peaceful, there are rural and remote communities with very high crime rates. In addition, some rural populations, such as Indigenous peoples and women, are at higher risk of victimization than their urban counterparts. Regardless of where one lives, levels of crime in the countryside and the formal and informal responses to those acts—including policing—have been shaped by a series of historical, political, geographic, economic, and demographic factors, and many of those factors are interconnected. Rural crime is further distinctive as some offenses, including illegal hunting (poaching) or environmental crimes, rarely occur in cities. Moreover, responses to those acts may be carried out by military organizations, nonpolice authorities, and police officers. The involvement of these quasi-police organizations in responding to rural crime is increasing in some nations. Rural is defined in this entry as a community or place with fewer than 2,500 residents located at least 30 miles from the nearest metropolitan area. Despite recognizing that crime in the countryside is unlike what occurs in cities, there has been comparatively little scholarship on rural or remote policing. Instead, most police research is conducted and disseminated by urban researchers—what some call an urban-centric focus—and as a result knowledge about rural policing is underdeveloped. There has been even less scholarship focusing on policing remote communities, and that is a significant limitation given the distinctive patterns of crime in some of these places. Although policymakers have developed a diverse range of interventions to respond to antisocial behavior, disorder, and crime in rural and remote jurisdictions, the people in these places have a common expectation: They want the same quality of policing city residents receive. The nature of rural policing, however, makes that a very difficult goal to achieve, as officers are often stretched thin and work in more dangerous conditions than their urban counterparts. Rural officers are also expected to respond to every conceivable call for service even though they often work alone and have limited backup. This is because many stand-alone rural police services are cash strapped as they draw from sparsely populated or impoverished tax bases. Inadequate funding also limits their ability to recruit officer candidates and inhibits the sophistication of investigations, opportunities for officer training, officer retention, and the ability to provide safe working conditions for their personnel. Four issues are of key importance to understanding rural and remote policing: (a) Rural crime differs from urban crime, and in some jurisdictions, the volume of crime is similar to (or greater than) city crime rates, although the nature of crime differs (e.g., some types of crimes occur more often in rural places); (b) rural officers carry out their day-to-day duties in a distinctively different manner than municipal officers; (c) the informal and formal expectations for rural officers are higher than their counterparts working in urban areas; and (d) the challenges of rural policing are magnified in remote locations.

Article

Police Violence  

Jenna Milani, Ben Bradford, and Jonathan Jackson

The ability of the police to assert social control and reproduce social order depends, crucially, on the capacity to use force to achieve these ends—whether when restraining someone attempting to self-harm or shooting dead an armed terrorist. But what do we know about police use of force in the United States and England and Wales? Why does unjustified police use of force occur? And why do citizens have different views on the acceptability and unacceptability of various forms of police violence?

Article

Policing Sex Workers  

Susan Dewey

Regulatory and legal approaches to prostitution are subject to considerable debate among researchers, policymakers, and those tasked with the everyday enforcement of measures intended to control, abate, or otherwise manage the sex industry. Law, policy, and everyday policing practices all contribute to the de jure and de facto organization of the sex industry at the levels of policy formulation, coordination between police, social services, and other socio-institutional forces, and encounters between sex workers and criminal justice professionals. Despite considerable cultural-contextual variations, researchers have ascertained three predominant approaches to regulating prostitution worldwide: criminalization, legalization, and decriminalization. Each of these approaches takes a unique form in the specific cultural context in which local authorities implement them, thereby generating special issues for policing with respect to ideological frameworks and police–sex worker encounters. Taken together, the philosophical and pragmatic concerns raised by policing or otherwise regulating prostitution encompass an extraordinary gamut of deeply human concerns regarding political power, sexual behavior, individual rights, historically rooted inequalities, and state responsibility

Article

Cyberpolicing  

Jin R. Lee

Cybercrime is generally understood as behaviors that involve the use of virtual environments and/or networked computer systems to generate harm. This broad definition of cybercrime captures a variety of different online behaviors, including interpersonal violence offenses such as cyberbullying and online harassment, as well as those involving the unauthorized use and access of computer systems such as malware dissemination, ransomware, and distributed denial of service attacks. Cybercrimes are policed by both law enforcement (e.g., local, state or provincial, federal) and extralegal agencies. Local law enforcement agencies are composed of police officers, who are generally tasked with maintaining public order within a specific municipality or county, including investigating crimes, apprehending offenders, and implementing crime prevention mechanisms (e.g., educating the public on available resources; proactive neighborhood patrol) within their local jurisdiction. State and provincial law enforcement agencies are larger police forces that are generally responsible for conduct that occurs within their wider state and provincial borders, including conducting highway traffic control and providing forensic services to smaller local agencies residing within their state or province. State and provincial agencies often become involved only when local forces are limited in their resources to adequately respond to an incident or when local jurisdictional conflicts exist. Federal agencies operate at the highest level of law enforcement, because they deal with crimes that involve homeland security. In fact, federal agencies can obtain cooperation among several national jurisdictions depending on existing political ties and extradition agreements. Several extralegal agencies (e.g., Internet Crime Complaint Center; Computer Emergency Response Teams) are also active in responding to cybercrime incidents. These agencies, which may develop from either public or private sectors, generally perform acts that support law enforcement, including facilitating communication and information sharing between victims and law enforcement agencies. Despite efforts to sanction online offenses, research suggests that cybercrimes present several challenges for law enforcement agencies across all levels of government. First, cybercrime offenders often anonymize their attacks and offline identities, making arrests and criminal prosecutions extremely challenging. Second, even if offenders and their actions are identified, agencies are limited by their geographic location and jurisdiction. Third, the technical nature of cybercrime means that victims may not be aware of their victimization until months after the attack, which may affect the identification of digital evidence necessary to prosecute an offender. Fourth, law enforcement officers may not possess the knowledge and expertise needed to secure and investigate a digital crime scene adequately. One approach that could improve how cybercrimes are enforced and regulated is the paradigm of evidence-based policing (EBP). EBP is a collective effort involving law enforcement agencies, academic researchers, and industry personnel/practitioners, whose central focus is to develop a robust evidence base that can identify current and emerging problems in policing, examine possible solutions to these problems using rigorous scientific methods, and monitor these solutions over extended periods of time to ensure successful outcomes are maintained. Knowing which operational practices work best in different situations will not only lead to a more intentional use of officers’ time and agency resources but also strengthen public perceptions of law enforcement in responding to cybercrime calls for service.

Article

Causes and Consequences of Police Self-Legitimacy  

Heather Prince, Kiseong Kuen, and Danielle S. Rudes

In recent years, research on policing, police legitimacy, and police decision-making has increased dramatically in part due to several high-profile police use of force and deadly shooting incidents in the United States. This line of studies largely focuses on individual-level factors such as police procedural justice during interactions with citizens from the perspective of the public. However, a growing body of studies suggests that police authority and legitimacy is not only formed by citizens’ evaluations and perceptions derived from police behaviors during the interactions. It is also shaped by factors from both individual-level and structural-level external sources of police organizations, such as citizens’ animus toward the police and crime rates of the jurisdiction. More importantly, research suggests that police culture and organizational-level factors, such as organizational justice and feeling recognition from others in an organization, play large roles in shaping officers’ self-legitimacy. The sense of low self-legitimacy derived from the above sources can lead officers to make racially biased decisions to reinforce their legitimate status with the public. Officers’ decision-making as well as their perceptions of self-legitimacy, by interacting each other, can play crucial roles in police negative behaviors toward citizens, such as use of deadly force, especially toward racial minorities. Some organizations have implemented changes such as implicit bias and procedural justice trainings, or body-worn camera requirements, but changes must be made at the overall organizational level to reduce racially biased police decision-making.