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Policing for People

NCJ Number
Date Published
12 pages

This discussion of the concept of policing for people focuses on the processes involved in policing, the six characteristics that the public associated with good service from their police, data on police effectiveness in providing these services, and a reform agenda that promotes for policing for people.


The six elements of policing for people are attentiveness, reliability, responsive service that is client-centered, competence, proper manners, and fairness. These criteria are not new, but little in the current police reform movement promotes these ideals and gives them the attention they deserve. The few studies that have focused on police performance in these areas suggest that ample opportunity exists for increased responsiveness in the form of comfort and reassurance for citizens who have experienced some form of trauma and that disadvantaged citizens appear to receive a disproportionate share of police disrespect. The data also suggest that the amount of time police officers spend with citizens is a crude measure of attentiveness. Changed mission statements, new rules, and training are unlikely to change police attitudes and motivations. However, skill training can be effective if it demonstrates how police officers' jobs will be easier and if highly respected officers try the new techniques and show their colleagues that they work. The most promising ways to improve internal accountability include using more extensive checklists regarding how officers handled incidents and providing meaningful external oversight through external audits. These proposed reforms have existed for decades and now should be tried. 23 references

Date Published: January 1, 1999