Study Reference:

Connell, N. M., Miggans, K., & McGloin, J. M. (2008). Can a community policing initiative reduce serious crime? A local evaluation. Police Quarterly,11(2), 127-150.


Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Neighborhoods, General, Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective


What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study examined an officer-initiated community policing strategy implemented by a suburban police department that aimed at decreasing crime and increasing community relationships. The core elements of this intervention included accountability, collaboration, decentralization, and problem-solving. Officers were held accountable for crime in their assigned geographic region within the police beat and were rated on their ability to implement community policing. They worked with local community members to identify recurring problems and then selected and implemented responses to those problems. The researchers note several unique characteristics of the initiative that they considered particularly important. First, the intervention was initiated at the patrol officer level within the department. Second, the officers selected for inclusion in the initiative believed in the value of community policing; these officers were enthusiastic about the potential of community policing and sought new ways to implement community policing strategies. Finally, the intervention integrated all aspects of the community policing model.


How was the intervention evaluated?

The evaluation examines the impact of the intervention on crime (violent, property, and drug crimes) using a quasi-experimental design. The intervention was launched in one police beat, while two areas similar to the intervention site on several important characteristics were chosen as comparison sites. All three beats received the same level of police financial resources, but only the intervention site employed the community policing approach. The authors compared the rate for each of the three crimes before (66 months) and after (18 months) the intervention and compared the changes in the treatment beat to those in the comparison beats, using crime reports data.


What were the key findings?

The intervention resulted in an abrupt and permanent decline in the level of violent (around 43%) and property crimes (around 22%) at the treatment site, while there was no change in the comparison areas. Drug crime declined in the treatment and comparison sites, suggesting that this decline was due to something other than the community policing program. The implemented community policing program was clearly-defined, comprehensive, and implemented thoroughly, compared with many other previous community policing strategies.


What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggest that community policing strategies as a package can be effective in a suburban setting. They also suggested that, in order for community policing to be effective, it is important to clearly define the strategy and implement the strategy with integrity.


Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?

All studies in the Matrix on neighborhoods

More information on community policing

Telep and Weisburd’s systematic review on police practices

Gill et al.’s systematic review on community policing

The COPS office