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Perceptions of Service Recipients from the Street Level. A Response to LaFrance and Lees "Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Differential Perceptions of the Residents. They Serve An Exploration and Preliminary Rationale

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Executive Forum Volume: 18 Issue: 1 Dated: October 2017 Pages: 43-52
Date Published
October 2017
10 pages
This article first examines findings from previous research that seem to indicate a fundamental difference in perception of service recipients between two distinct law enforcement managers: the elected county sheriff and the merit-appointed municipal police chief, and it then considers whether these schema should be expected to manifest themselves in the values of first-line supervisors as measured by the views of street-level officers in each type of agency.

Scholars and practitioners in criminal justice and public administration have long debated the proper terminology that should be used in describing the residents in a jurisdiction who fund and receive services from local law enforcement agents. This debate is not simply one about semantics. Nor, at its heart, is it about street-level outputs. Instead, this debate encapsulates core normative questions about the relationship law enforcement agencies ought to develop with those they serve and protect. The current article argues that identified differences between elected county sheriffs and appointed police chiefs should appear in the responses of street-level deputy sheriffs and police officers, leveraging evidence from a large N survey of thousands of deputies and officers. The findings do not support theoretical expectations, reaching statistical significance and, given the sample size, substantive meaningfulness, but in the opposite direction than the researchers expected. A discussion of these results is provided. Recommendations are offered for subsequent avenues of future research on this timely and important topic. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: October 1, 2017