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Deputies' Perceptions of Citizens' Attitudes Toward Service

NCJ Number
Date Published
11 pages
This study compared the findings of a survey of citizens' attitudes toward police-related services in Ada County, Idaho, with the findings of a survey of sheriff's deputies designed to determine their predictions of citizens' attitudes on the same issues.
The Citizen Fear of Crime and Satisfaction With Sheriff Services Survey was conducted in 1997. It sought to obtain information on the public's fear of crime, attitudes toward police practices, and knowledge of services offered by the Sheriff's Office. The survey was randomly distributed to Ada County residents where the Sheriff's Office had primary patrol responsibilities. Data from 806 residents were collected. The deputies survey asked how deputies thought citizens would answer the questions in the citizen's survey. Fifty-six surveys were distributed, and 41 were returned (73-percent response rate). The comparison of the findings determined that citizens were much more interested in the problems faced by the Sheriff's Office than deputies believed they would be; and deputies underestimated citizen's perceptions of dependable ties between citizens and deputies. Although the difference was small, citizens perceived that it was slightly more difficult to form friendships with deputies than deputies expected. Citizens perceived that deputies were content to stay in their patrol cars to a greater degree than deputies expected; and citizens viewed deputies as more intimidating than deputies anticipated. Citizens believed that deputies were more concerned about their welfare than deputies expected. Deputies also underestimated how important citizens felt it was for deputies to talk to people about their problems. There were similar assessments on the two surveys regarding the following statements: Sheriff deputies are usually courteous; deputies are usually honest; deputies are usually fair; deputies should spend more time working with individuals and groups to solve problems; deputies should spend more time than they do investigating serious crime, serious criminals, and suspicious persons; and citizens and deputies work together in solving problems. Across all scores, both significant and insignificant, citizens showed higher scores than deputies thought they would. Responses to each survey question are compared for both surveys in an appendix.

Date Published: January 1, 1998