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Educating the Public About the Police: The Lima PSA Project, Final Report

NCJ Number
Mitchell B. Chamlin Ph.D.; Christopher R. Stormann M.S.
Date Published
144 pages
This project analyzed the impact of televised public service announcements (PSAs), aired for 3 months in Lima, Ohio, to educate the public about the police and to inform citizens on how to behave during encounters with the police.
The project specifically focused on whether PSAs were effective in transferring knowledge to citizens about the police, whether the PSAs had an impact on resident satisfaction with the police, and whether the PSAs had an impact on the behavior of citizens interacting with the police. Three telephone surveys of 1,541 Lima residents were conducted to obtain data on the effectiveness of 4 PSAs: (1) helpful tips if pulled over by the police; (2) helpful tips for police emergencies and action scenes; (3) helpful tips for disturbances and disagreements with the police; and (4) the police role and community-oriented policing. Findings demonstrated that the four PSAs effectively imparted information on how to handle disagreements with the police but that they had little impact on citizen knowledge of traffic stops and emergency situations or on resident satisfaction with the police. Moreover, impact assessments of PSAs on two measures of citizen-police interaction, resisting arrest and police use of force incidents, were equally disappointing. Possible explanations for the weak findings and their implications for future research are discussed. Three appendixes provide additional information on the project methodology and findings. 60 references, 28 tables, and 1 figure