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Remarks by the Honorable James K. Stewart, Director of the National Institute of Justice, to the FBI National Academy 158th Graduating Class, Quantico, Virginia, August 1, 1989

NCJ Number
J K Stewart
Date Published
14 pages
At least two traditional police axioms, that random patrol deters crime and that rapid response is essential, have been proved by research to be invalid and even counterproductive.
Those two axioms led to police departments investing in large fleets of patrol cars, personnel increases, and the 911 system. Law enforcement authorities conducted an experiment in Kansas City, Missouri, in the 1970s, in which the city was divided into a section with no ongoing police patrol, a section with a regular patrol, and a section with a greatly increased patrol. After a year, these different deployment strategies had little or no effect on public safety or the crime rate. Police carried out a second study in Kansas City that demonstrated that police response time was unrelated to the probability of making arrests or locating witnesses. The crucial factor was actually the time it took citizens to report a crime. In Wilmington, Delaware, police management used this evidence to priorize the type of police response, including delayed response, telephone reporting, walk-in reporting, and scheduled appointments, based on the nature of the call. Recommendations for reallocating officers and resources focused on reducing the public's fear of crime and increasing the community's sense of security, through strategies such as establishing police minicenters, promoting door-to-door contacts between officers and citizens, and organizing community associations. Police research has also tested a new policy of problem-oriented policing, in which officers identify groups of incidents (continuing auto thefts or burglaries in a specific neighborhood), then draw upon a wide variety of public and private resources to solve the problem. The results of problem-oriented policing have been encouraging. Empirical police research will continue to separate good police practice from bad, and allow police management to progress toward truly preventive procedures.