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National Survey of Police Patrol Deployment Methods

NCJ Number
D A Pearson
Date Published
121 pages
Municipal police departments were surveyed for the techniques used in deploying available patrol manpower and in evaluating effectiveness of deployment planning.
The survey sample was drawn from a population universe containing all police departments serving cities with populations ranging from 50,000 to 500,000. Of these 283 cities, a random sample of 113 cities received questionnaires. Responses from 55 departments (48 percent) were returned and tabulated. The survey questionnaire sought to determine (1) who makes patrol deployment plans in each of the participating cities; (2) what criteria are used in making deployment decisions; (3) how time and geographic units are used in plotting crimes and calls for service; (4) what methods are used for analyzing patrol data; and (5) what criteria are used in deployment evaluations. Survey data were tested for significance. The results demonstrated that little relationship exists between population and the criteria used for deployment. Generally, police departments placed equal importance on the factors thought to be measures of the need for police services, and these factors were not as limited as may be thought. Likewise, the criteria used to measure the effectiveness of deployment plans were also varied; the two most consistently use criteria were reported crime and response time. Although computerization of deployment data is growing in usage, informal review and command discretion are still often used. Since deployment decisions depend on the criminal, geographic, demographic, economic, and value orientation of the population, no single formula or method of deployment can be devised. A deficiency in the survey data was the lack of information on the methods used to measure input and output factors and on how the relative importance of each is determined. Definitions of key terms and an extensive review of related literature are included. Data are presented in tabular form. A bibliography and appendixes containing the questionnaire and a participants' list are provided.