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Marketing Community Policing in the News: A Missed Opportunity?

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2003
9 pages
This study examined how the police use the media to promote community policing, and with what result.
Specific goals of the study were to assess the quality of police-media relations, examine the receptiveness of the media to community policing, identify the promotional methods police use, and measure the amount and quality of press coverage community policing receives. Information about police promotional efforts was obtained from a survey of agencies in cities with populations greater than 100,000. Questions focused on the promotional strategies used, the receptiveness of the media, and how the agency viewed the quality of media coverage. To measure the number and quality of articles about community policing, the researchers reviewed newspapers in four cities. The study found that police-media relations are mutually supportive, that media representatives view the police as accessible, and that the media are accommodating when public information officers (PIOs) ask for coverage of community policing. Still, crime stories take precedence over community policing stories in media editing policies, and the coverage of community policing tends to be narrow and devoid of any discussion of goals or philosophy. The researchers advise that an effective marketing strategy for community policing might call for broader outreach and the sharing of some PIO responsibilities among other staff. The PIOs contacted report that they publish newsletters, work with neighborhood groups, operate student or citizen police academies, conduct citizen seminars, and are in touch with business and civic leaders. Any outreach strategy should be evaluated for its effectiveness. Key questions in an evaluation could include whether citizens better understand community policing, whether their support is stronger, and whether they have become involved as partners with the police. 1 note

Date Published: July 1, 2003