Neighborhood – Wycoff & Skogan (1993)

Study Reference:

Wycoff, M. & Skogan W. (1993). Community policing in Madison: Quality from the inside out. An evaluation of implementation and impact. Research report. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Neighborhoods; General; Highly Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; No evidence of an effect

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study tests the internal (organizational and personnel) and external (community) impacts of an internal organizational effort designed to support community-oriented policing (COP) and problem-oriented policing (POP) in the Madison, Wisconsin, Police Department. One-sixth of the department serving approximately one-sixth of the population was developed as an Experimental Police District (EPD) to better embody COP and POP values, which strove to implement quality leadership, a healthy workplace, improved service delivery, and community benefits. The goal of this project was to bring these ideas to the experimental policing district and instill them in officers through training and other organizational changes in the workplace and workforce. After an implementation period of two years, it was determined that: a new, participatory management approach was successfully implemented in the EPD; employee attitudes toward the organization and toward their work improved; and physical decentralization was accomplished.

How was the intervention evaluated?

A quasi-experimental design was employed in which changes in attitudes of EPD employees were compared over time with attitude changes of employees in the rest of the department. Employee attitudes were measured by the administration of a written survey to all commissioned personnel three times during the two-year evaluation period. Within-group and regression analyses were conducted. Similar procedures were used for the citizen survey, which compared responses from residents within the EPD service area with those of residents in the rest of the city. Citizens were also asked about their victimization.

What were the key findings?

The report found that the successful implementation of a participatory management approach improved employees’ attitudes toward the department, decentralized operations, and reduced citizens’ fears of crime and increased their belief that police were working for the benefit of the community. However, there was no drop in victimization after an increase in police-community meetings in the target district. The authors claim that the most dramatic finding was that it is possible to change a traditional, control-oriented police organization into one in which employees become members of work teams and participants in decision-making processes.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggest that the external benefits of the COP/POP organizational change were not as numerous as the internal benefits that were measured. The authors also suggest that although the Madison example is not a perfect example because the research did not begin at the true “beginning” of the department’s reforms, traditional policing attitudes can be transformed to include a wider community-focus.

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