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Surveying Clients To Assess Police Performance - Focusing on the Police-citizen Encounter

NCJ Number
Evaluation Review Volume: 5 Issue: 3 Dated: (June 1981) Pages: 397-408
Date Published
12 pages
Reasons for surveying all the types of clients encountered by the police to assess police performance are presented and discussed, using illustrations from the literature.
The generality of questions which are usually asked of survey respondents severely limits the interpretability of typical survey research on police. However, evaluations that use the client as an informant can improve the usefulness of survey research for program assessment by focusing on those aspects of police service which the client observes directly, particularly those in which the respondent took part. The evaluator who uses this method must be careful to sample the complete range of police clients. Surveys often cover only victims, but this group typically represents only a small proportion of the people with whom the police deal. In addition, research has shown that participants' roles in their encounters with the police and the nature of the problem which produced the encounter both affect the participants' evaluations of police actions. For example, one study found that suspects who were subjected to officer-initiated enforcement were much more likely to evaluate police lower than were those who were involved in citizen-initiated encounters with the police. Similarly, the severity of the problem which generates the citizen-police encounter has been shown to have a positive and significant correlation with a crime victim's safisfaction with police performance. Thus, failure to include and specify the complete range of clients associated with a program will probably produce biased conclusions about the program's benefits and costs. Notes and 24 references are provided. (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1981