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Fairness and Effectiveness in Policing: The Evidence

NCJ Number
Date Published
427 pages

The book explores modern police work as social science research and recommends solutions to challenges faced by law enforcement to effectively control crime and ensure justice.


The book explores policing and provides answers to the most basic questions regarding what police do, how police work is organized, the expanding responsibilities of police, the increasing diversity among police employees, and the complex interactions between officers and citizens. It also addresses such topics as community policing, use of force, and racial profiling, and evaluates the success of common police techniques. Finally it looks at the issue of legitimacy. Each chapter of the report identifies research priorities; eight recommendations provide specific guidance to communities, to State and national lawmakers, and to police themselves. Following the introduction, chapter 2 provides a broad overview of the development of police research, focusing on studies that examined the practices of American policing since 1967. Chapter 3 traces major themes in the development of American policing, and describes a policing industry that is highly diverse and decentralized, as well as locally controlled and financed. Chapters 4 and 5 focus on police behavior, and addresses issues regarding the effectiveness and lawfulness of policing. Chapter 4 examines the impact of situational factors, the background of citizens that the police encounter, and the officers' characteristics on police work. Chapter 5 examines the impact of organizational, community, and governmental factors on the police. Chapter 6 addresses the research on police effectiveness at reducing crime, disorder, and fear. Chapters 7 and 8 explore research on the criteria by which society makes judgments about the police; their lawfulness, that is, police compliance with constitutional, statutory, and professional norms; police legitimacy as defined by the public, and their willingness to recognize police authority. Chapter 9 discusses the future of police research, discusses it in the context of emerging Federal policy guidelines, and summarizes recommendations. Tables, figures, references, and appendix

Date Published: January 1, 2004