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Politics of Police Reporting in Indianapolis, 1948-1978

NCJ Number
Law and Human Behavior Volume: 6 Issue: 3 and 4 Dated: (1982) Pages: 327-342
Date Published
16 pages
The paper interprets crime statistics from the Indianapolis Police Department in view of news reports and interviews covering police crime control between 1948-78.
In the mid-1950's, the police shifted their policies from proactive enforcement (emphasizing vice, traffic, and juvenile arrests) to reactive enforcement (taking citizen crime reports). Under proactive enforcement, police were chided for not being responsive to citizens, whereas under reactive enforcement, they were blamed for failing to control crime (as crime reporting rates rose dramatically). The Indianapolis experience shows what can happen when police are caught in the political cross-fire. Police can expect that once crime statistics are touted as indicators of police success, they will be viewed as indicators of failure when they add up in the wrong direction. In becoming reactive and dependent on calls from citizens, the police put themselves in a no-win situation. Police would be better off if relieved of responsibility for defining the size and shape of the crime problem. Graphs and 22 references are included.

Date Published: January 1, 1982