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Community Policing and Accreditation: Compatibility or Conflict?

NCJ Number
Date Published
G. Cordner, G. Williams
This analysis considers whether the police operations and administration requirements of accreditation are compatible with the operations and administration requirements of community policing (COP).
Three principal research strategies were used. One strategy conducted separate content analyses of the 897 accreditation standards in effect at the end of 1992 and the revised set of 436 standards published in 1994. In a second strategy, a survey was sent to the CEOs of 12 case-study sites and 12 other "expert" practitioners and academics selected because they had expressed particular views about the substantive impact of accreditation or about the implications of accreditation for community policing. The survey solicited evaluations of 14 hypotheses about the intersection of COP and accreditation. The third strategy involved case studies of 12 law enforcement agencies that were accredited and also engaged in some form of COP. The content analysis concluded that the accreditation standards do not directly conflict with COP, but neither do they provide strong support for community-oriented or problem-oriented police operations; the standards support a traditional, formalistic approach to police administration, yet they do not require centralization, specialization, or more hierarchy. Further, the standards are written in such a way that they are overwhelmingly process-oriented rather than outcome-oriented; as such, their real impact on the quality and nature of police services delivered to citizens is inherently problematic. Neither the 12 case-study site CEOs nor the outside experts expressed much support for the likelihood of direct conflict between accreditation and COP; they did express support for several varieties of indirect conflict, however. The case studies showed very little evidence of conflict between accreditation and COP. 5 notes and 1 table
Date Created: December 17, 2008