Date of Award

9-5-2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Criminology

First Advisor

Alida V. Merlo, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Willard T. Austin, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Dennis M. Giever, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Daniel R. Lee, Ph.D.

Fifth Advisor

Thomas H. Short, Ph.D.

Abstract

Community policing is one of the most significant transformations in American policing (Eck & Maguire, 2000). Scholars have suggested that community policing might have a general role in the last decade’s crime drop (Eck & Maguire, 2000; Marvel & Moody, 1996; Zhao, Schreider, & Thurman, 2002; Zhao & Thurman, 2004). However, previous empirical studies examining community policing and its relationship to crime at the aggregate level yielded inconclusive results (Beckman, 2006; Government Accountability Office [GAO], 2005; MacDonald, 2002; Muhlhausen, 2001; Zhao & Thurman, 2004). This study utilized three major data sets consisting of LEMAS 2003, two waves of UCR (2004 & 2005), and the U.S Census 2000 data to examine the relationship between community policing and crime at the national level. The results of multiple-regression analyses indicate that only one dimension (training and problem-solving) of community policing has a significant relationship with crime rates. The direction of this relationship is positive, suggesting an increase in the level of implementation of training and problem-solving practices is associated with higher crime rates. As hypothesized, the problem-solving partnership dimension of community policing is negatively associated with crime rates. However, this finding is only valid for large agencies. Among the departmental control variables, only the number of police officers per 1,000 residents consistently yields a significant positive relationship with crime rates. Parallel with the literature, the contextual variables are all positively associated with crime rates with a few exceptions. In support of the study’s hypotheses, it was found that the effect of the level of implementation of community policing differ in small and large agencies. The difference is also evident for some contextual and departmental factors. These findings along with possible policy implications and directions for future research are discussed.

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