Neighborhood – Trojanowicz (1986)

Study Reference:

Trojanowicz, R. (1986). Evaluating a neighborhood foot patrol program: The Flint, Michigan Project. In Dennis Rosenbaum (ed.) Community crime Prevention: Does it work? Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Neighborhood, General, Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study evaluates the Neighborhood Foot Patrol Program (NFPP) in Flint, Michigan, which was conducted in 14 neighborhoods between January 1979 and January 1982. The program included three primarily principles/efforts. First, citywide planning meetings were held as far as a year in advance of the formal beginning of the program. Second, assigned officers were expected to be familiar with their neighborhoods, to recognize potential problems, and to make referrals to the appropriate social agencies when it was necessary to do so. Third, the Flint program operated on the assumption that citizens themselves had an important role to play in the prevention of crime and maintenance of public order as the “eyes and ears” of their neighborhoods.

How was the intervention evaluated?

Three methods of data gathering and evaluation were used: (1) several hundred interviews were conducted with community residents, block club leaders, business people, clergy, foot patrol officers, and others; (2) members of the research team talked with community residents and police officers informally; and (3) the daily, weekly, and monthly reports of the foot patrol officers were sampled to determine how they had used their time. For the formal evaluation, information was developed through five primary sources: personal interviews, crime statistics and calls for service, monitoring (daily, weekly, and monthly reports submitted by foot patrol officers), media content analysis, and intervening variables that could not be controlled during the three-year experiment. Early in the experiment, an attempt was made to establish 14 comparable control areas to measure crime rates and calls for service and compare them with the 14 experimental areas. This, however, was not maintained through the course of the evaluation. As the popularity and expansion of foot patrol increased, many parts of the proposed control areas were provided with foot patrol services.

What were the key findings?

Results revealed that in the year before the inception of the Foot Patrol Program, there were 4,085 crimes reported in the 14 experimental areas. In 1981, the year of the final evaluation, there were only 3,730 crimes reported in these areas. Further, almost 70 percent of the citizens interviewed during the final year of the study felt safer because of the Foot Patrol Program. Of the 280 residents interviewed during the third year, 42 percent said they knew exactly what the duties of the foot patrol officers were; additionally, more than 64 percent said they were satisfied with the program, and more than 61 percent said that protection for women, children, and the elderly had been increased. Finally, more than 90 percent of the 280 residents interviewed were aware of the Foot Patrol Program; most agreed that foot patrol officers were more effective than motorized officers.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The author suggests that this study provides evidence that foot patrol officers can perform many traditional police functions more cheaply and efficiently than can other units of the police department; and because they have the potential for reducing crime, they can lead to additional savings for society.

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