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Criminal Victimization and Perceptions of Community Safety in 12 Cities, 1998

THURSDAY, JUNE 3, 1999        202/307-0703

New Process Collects Data on Victimization, Citizen
Perceptions of Police and Crime

     WASHINGTON, DC   Eighty-five percent of
residents surveyed in 12 cities reported satisfaction with the
police who served their neighborhood, according to a 1998
Justice Department survey released today.  The proportion of
residents reporting that they were "very satisfied" or
"satisfied" with the police ranged from 97 percent in
Madison, Wisconsin to 78 percent in Washington, D.C.  Few
residents in the 12 cities   about 3 percent   said they were
"very dissatisfied" with the police.
     More than half of all respondents said they were
familiar with the term "community policing," and 54 percent
said that police officers practice community policing in their
neighborhoods.  Across the 12 cities the percentage of
residents who thought that their local police practiced
community policing ranged from 42 percent in Knoxville to
67 percent in Chicago.  Sixty percent of respondents
indicated that in the past 12 months the police had worked at
least "somewhat" with neighborhood residents on crime
prevention and safety.
     "The high degree of citizen support for America's
neighborhood police officers is a testament to the dedicated
men and women who work day in and day out to establish
relationships with residents in their communities," said
Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder.  "These relationships
help citizens and police work together to promote community
     Criminal Victimization and Perceptions of
Community Safety in 12 Cities, 1998 reports the results of
surveys sponsored by the Department's Bureau of Justice
Statistics (BJS) and Office of Community Oriented Policing
Services (COPS).  The cities surveyed were Chicago, Illinois;
Kansas City, Missouri; Knoxville, Tennessee; Los Angeles,
California; Madison, Wisconsin; New York, New York; San
Diego, California; Savannah, Georgia; Spokane, Washington;
Springfield, Massachusetts; Tucson, Arizona; and
Washington, D.C.  
     In addition to data on community policing, the
publication also reports on the rates at which residents are
victimized by crime and citizen perceptions of crime in the
12 cities.  Key findings include:
*        Nationally, black residents in urban areas have
         experienced a higher rate of violent crime than
         urban whites.  This is also the case for black
         residents across the 12 cities surveyed.
*        In each of the cities, victims said that less than
         half of the violent crimes involved a weapon.
*        Less than half the residents in each of the
         cities were fearful of crime in their
         neighborhood.  Less than 1 in 10 in each of the
         cities said they were "very fearful."
*        In six cities, at least 20 percent of residents
         who said they were afraid of becoming a
         victim of street crime carried a weapon (knife,
         gun, club, mace, stun-gun) for self-defense.
     Although BJS annually publishes national data on
criminal victimization, this study marks the first effort in 20
years to gather data on victimization and community policing
at the city level.  In response to requests from the law
enforcement community for information on crime rates and
the effectiveness of community policing in their
neighborhoods, the project served as a model for city-level
surveys nationwide.  
     To support locally initiated citizen surveys in
additional cities, BJS and the COPS Office have developed a
Windows-based software survey package that can be used to
collect information on criminal victimizations, citizen
attitudes toward the police, their willingness to report crimes
to the police, and the impact of community policing strategies
on crime and neighborhood conditions.
     "Gathering data on crime and community policing at
the local level not only supplements our national data, but
also allows local officials to identify their particular crime
control needs," said BJS Director Jan Chaiken.  "As part of
the Justice Department's emphasis on police working with
residents in their neighborhoods, we are giving local law
enforcement agencies tools to learn more about crimes and
public opinion that may not be reported to the police."  
      Community policing is a crime fighting strategy that
encourages law enforcement to work in partnership with the
community to solve crime problems.  To date, the COPS
Office has awarded more than $5.9 billion dollars to more
than 11,300 agencies.  Over 87 percent of the country is now
served by law enforcement agencies doing community
     "The results of this study validate this
administration's efforts to support community policing and
fund 100,000 officers for our nation's neighborhoods," said
Joseph E. Brann, Director of the COPS Office.  "Individual
officers across our country are reaching out to work with
neighbors, schools and business leaders to create safer
communities and enhance the quality of life."
     The full report is available online at
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cvpcs98.htm.  A
copy may also be obtained through the BJS fax-on-demand
system by dialing 301/519-5550, listening to the complete
menu, and selecting document number 156 for the main
section of the report and document number 155 for the
technical statistical appendices.  Printed copies of the report
are available by calling the BJS Clearinghouse at 1-800/732-3277 and
requesting document number NCJ 173940.  Local
jurisdictions may also obtain the survey software package by
calling the BJS Clearinghouse at 1-800/732-3277.
     More information on the COPS program is available
at http://www.usdoj.gov/cops.  Statistics on the justice
system are available through the BJS Website at
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs.  BJS is a component of the
Office of Justice Programs, which provides information on
criminal justice programs and research at
     Media should call OJP's Office of Congressional and
Public Affairs at 202/307-0703 or the COPS
Communications Office at 202/616-1728.

After hours contact: Mike McCarthy at 202/305-0779.

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Date Created: May 27, 2009