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Measuring Resident Perceptions of Police and Community Safety: Findings from the Local-Area Crime Survey

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2021
54 pages

Based on data from the Local-Area Crime Survey (LACS) conducted in 2015 and 2016, this report presents findings on crime victimization and resident perceptions of police and community safety.


The LACS is one of several initiatives undertaken by the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) to increase the availability of victimization data of interest to local jurisdictions. Based on the need to expand knowledge about crime victimization and community and police perceptions at local geographical levels, BJS commissioned Westat to develop and test a household survey about crime victimization, neighborhood safety, and police performance. This resulted in the fielding of the LACS in 2015 and 2016. It is intended for use by states, municipalities, or other jurisdictions and entities in assessing levels and trends in public safety. The LACS was conducted in 2015 and 2016 in the 40 most populous U.S. metropolitan areas. The survey, which was mailed to representative samples of households in these areas, was called the American Crime Survey. It asked household respondents, who answered on behalf of their households, about their perceptions of police, perceptions of community safety, and fear of crime. It also collected information on the percentages of households and people affected by crime in the prior 12 months. The current report presents 2015 findings on the variation in resident perceptions within and across these large metropolitan areas and highlights the use of these indicators for understanding local patterns of crime and reporting to the police. The report’s focus is aggregate geographical differences within selected metropolitan areas; it does not include additional breakdowns of the data by demographic or other respondent characteristics. 39 figures

Date Published: April 1, 2021