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Process Evaluation of an Effort to Engage Police in Alternative Responses to Neighborhood Drug Problems, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
70 pages
This report presents findings from a process evaluation of a New York City program, La Bodega de la Familia, that involved community representatives and police working together to develop alternative responses to neighborhood drug use and crime.
The program's work with police stemmed from the program's focus on family case management services, which were designed to keep drug users in treatment and out of jail or prison. As part of its efforts, "Bodega" sought to enlist local police officers in contacting and referring families to their program as part of their response to a routine complaint call or in responding to inquiries by family members of a recent arrestee. The first goal of the process evaluation was to describe and assess Bodega's efforts to enlist the police in formulating new responses to community drug problems. A second goal was to identify and explore factors that underlie the responses of police officers and local residents to drug users and drug-related crime. A multimethod approach focused on qualitative data. Findings indicated little use of the program by police during the 28-month study period; 41 of the 647 referrals to Bodega during this period came from police, and only 9 came from patrol officers. The program was disproportionately used by specialized officers who worked on domestic-violence and public-housing cases, and parole and probation officers made significantly more referrals to the program than police. Researchers concluded that patrol officers' lack of commitment to program goals was based in their view of drug users as "junkies" who "do not have families." In addition, they were unaccustomed to including program referrals in routine service calls. Although Bodega succeeded in building support from senior police administrators, it was unsuccessful in engaging the support of precinct officers and their supervisors. Training and explicit directives to patrol officers are recommended. 87 references and appended focus group questions for precinct police, the Bodega client interview schedule, and focus group questions for community residents and Bodega clients

Date Published: January 1, 2005