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Community Policing in Local Police Departments, 1997 and 1999

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2001      202/307-0784


WASHINGTON, D.C.- From 1997 through 1999 the percentage of local police officers throughout the nation who were designated community policing officers increased from 4 percent to 21 percent, according to a new report from the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). State and local law enforcement agencies had almost 113,000 full-time sworn personnel who served as community policing officers or otherwise regularly engaged in community policing activities during 1999, it said. This included an estimated 91,000 local police officers.

Community-oriented policing seeks to address the causes of crime and to reduce fear of crime and social disorder through problem-solving strategies and police-community partnerships. Typically it involves a greater use of foot and bicycle patrols and frequent meetings with community groups.

Among other things, the report determined that:

  • Sixty-four percent of departments, representing 86 percent of the U.S. population served by local police, had full-time officers engaged in community policing activities during 1999, compared to 34 percent of the local departments serving 62 percent of the population in 1997.
  • Eighty-seven percent of local police officers were employed by a department that provided community policing training for new recruits during the 2-year period ending June 30, 1999.
  • Eighty-five percent of all local officers were employed by a department that provided such training to at least some in-service officers.
  • Sixty-three percent of local police departments, serving 85 percent of U.S. residents used routine foot and/or bicycle patrols.
  • Ninety percent of local police departments serving 50,000 or more residents gave patrol officers responsibility for specific geographic beats. The report noted that this may facilitate community policing goals, such as the development of citizen and business contacts and the formation of problem-solving partnerships.
  • About half of all officers worked for a department that actively encouraged them to engage in problem-solving projects on their patrol beats, and about a third worked for a department that included these projects in work performance evaluations.
  • As of June 30, 1999, 69 percent of local police departments serving 96 percent of all residents, had met with community groups within the past year, and 40 percent of all departments, serving 71 percent of all residents, had formed a problem-solving partnership within the past 3 years.
  • Among departments that held regular meetings with citizen groups, 76 percent met with school officials and students, 52 percent met with neighborhood associations, 50 percent met with business groups, 45 percent met with senior citizen groups and 41 percent met with domestic violence groups.
  • During 1999, 92 percent of all residents were served by a local police department that provided residents with routine access to crime statistics or crime maps, compared to 70 percent in 1997.
  • Sixty-two percent of residents were served by a department that had an Internet homepage in 1999, compared to 48 percent in 1997.

The data are from a report BJS prepared with the cooperation of the Department's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) agency. BJS queried 3,246 state and local law enforcement agencies about their community policing personnel, training, policies and programs. In 1999 there were an estimated 13,524 local police departments in the U.S. They employed about 436,000 full-time sworn officers.

The special report, "Community Policing in Local Police Departments, 1997 and 1999" (NCJ-184794), was written by BJS statisticians Matthew J. Hickman and Brian A. Reaves. Single copies may be obtained from the BJS fax-on-demand system by dialing 301/519-5550, listening to the complete menu and selecting document number 227. Or call the BJS clearinghouse number: 1-800-851-3420. Fax orders for mail delivery to 410/792-4358. The BJS Internet site is:


Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained from the Office of Justice Programs homepage at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov

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After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354

Date Published: February 25, 2001