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Assessing Police Performance in Citizen Encounters: Police Legitimacy and Management Accountability

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2014

This NIJ-funded research project presents an effort to implement and examine the impact of building citizen assessment of service quality into police performance measurements and accountability.


The research includes plans to implement and examine the impacts of building citizen assessment of service quality into systems of police performance measurement and accountability. The project includes a police services survey to measure the quality of police services in terms of the subjective experiences of people who have contact with the Syracuse and Schenectady, NY police departments. The survey will capture citizens' perceptions of the quality of their contact with the police, views on legitimacy, and assessments of dimensions of police services. The survey results will be compiled on a monthly basis and reported to the PDs in the context of monthly Compstat meetings. The project also includes a review and analysis of in-car video footage which will be used as a means to cross-validate citizens' reports, and to establish the credibility of survey-based measures. Interviews with command staff and focus groups with uniform personnel will be conducted to assess what police managers do with this information, and how (if at all) field supervisors and patrol officers are affected by it. Additionally, the project will survey key community informants to assess the extent to which citizens are aware of organizational steps the departments are taking to monitor police behavior and hold officers accountable. Analytical techniques will include descriptive analyses; multivariate statistical techniques, including pooled cross-sectional time series from which the grantee can more systematically describe trends in the data, and estimate the impact of introducing measures of these outcomes into the Compstat process; and content analyses of qualitative interview and focus group data.

Date Published: December 1, 2014