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Citizen Complaints: What the Police Should Know

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 67 Issue: 12 Dated: December 1998 Pages: 1-5
R R Johnson
Date Published
5 pages
This review of research on citizen complaints against the police highlights several areas of dysfunction between the police and the community.
The research shows that there is a misunderstanding between the police and young males from lower socioeconomic neighborhoods and also suggests a general lack of faith in the police by most ethnic minority groups. This indicates a need for community policing strategies and efforts to repair these relationships. The community members should view the police as their partners in making the neighborhood a safer more positive place to live. In many cases, however, the police are viewed as outsiders who unduly harass residents. Research shows the importance of interpersonal communication in police work. Police agencies should hire mature, educated officers with strong communication skills and then provide further instruction and experience in communication techniques. Human relations and cultural diversity training assist in preparing officers to handle stressful situations in a mature and professional manner. Finally, research shows that the problems of police corruption and brutality still exist, although not as often as the media suggest. By removing brutal officers from the ranks and prosecuting corrupt officers for their crimes, the law enforcement profession will gain support from the community. Police agencies should handle every complaint from a citizen with concern and professionalism. Listening to citizen complaints shows the department what concerns exist within the community and also shows how the community feels about their police service. By taking corrective action to reduce the causes of citizen complaints, police supervisors improve the quality of police service. 15 notes