The Old Louisville
Journal

Volume 22, Issues 10 & 11
Volume 23, Issue 1
January 2001

Page 1

Chair Notes

Letters to the Editor

5th District Police Study

St. James Art  Show

Community Events

Property Improvement

Zoning and Land Use

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Crime Victims' Satisfaction with Police Services in the Fifth District

The following is excerpted from a June, 2000, study by Richard Tewksbury, Ph.D., and Angela West, Ph.D., of the Department of Justice Administration at the University of Louisville. It was commissioned based on rising concerns about the nature of interactions between Louisville's police officers and its citizens. This research suggests that, in the Fifth District at least, crime victims have good experiences with the police.

Findings
The goal of this research was to determine Fifth District residents' level of satisfaction with the Louisville Division of Police, and to assess what factors contribute to this satisfaction. To measure satisfaction, respondents were asked to rate their most recent contact with officers from the Fifth District on a ten point ordinal scale (1 =low/bad, 10=high/excellent). Respondents were asked to rank their satisfaction with the officers on five items: 1) officer courtesy/politeness; 2) speed of response; 3) officer concern for the individual; 4) officer helpfulness; and 5) overall satisfaction with the contact. Percentages of respondents rating officers at each level are presented in Table 1. As can be quickly seen, large percentages of respondents highly ranked their satisfaction with the officers in most of the areas.

Conclusion
Despite the negative press that police officers in general tend to receive, and despite the negative public perceptions evolving from highly publicized cases of real and alleged police misconduct, citizens in the Fifth District are generally well-satisfied with police response to their calls for service. In particular, the most satisfied citizens were those who perceived the officer as courteous, concerned, and helpful. While Fifth District residents reported their least strong level of satisfaction with speed of response, this factor seemed to contribute little to someone's overall satisfaction. In fact, the strongest contributing factor to a citizen's overall satisfaction was the officer's helpfulness. This factor encompassed the officer providing "important information that helped [the respondent] better deal with [his/her] situation; provided referrals of contact information for other resources, if necessary." The second most important factor was display of concern in which the officer "seemed to care about [the respondent's] well-being, asked about possible injuries" and "indicated concern for [the respondent's] future safety."

For the most part, victim demographics had little impact on satisfaction, with the exception of the individual's sex. Female crime victims were significantly more satisfied than male residents with police services. This is not wholly unexpected, however. Previous research in Louisville, and in the 5th District specifically, has suggested that women may hold more positive attitudes towards police than men. The reason for this is unclear, however. This may be due to a tendency of women to report more positive views about services in general, or this may be a function of the form and tone of officers' interactions with men and women in the community. Future research needs to address this issue in more depth.

While examination of the impact of demographics is important for what it does say about officer/citizen interactions (i.e. that men and women feel differently), it is also important for what it does not say. The data do not indicate any significant differences in satisfaction levels based on race, education, or age. That is, persons of all races, education levels, and ages were equally satisfied with their interactions with officers.

Table 1: Citizen Satisfaction Ratings (in percentages of respondents)
   

Courtesy
%

Speed 
%

Concern
%

Helpfulness
%

Overall Satisfaction
%

Lowest  6.0 4.1 8.0
2 2.1 2.0
3 2.0 2.0
4 2.0 2.1 2.0 4.0
5 12.0 6.3 4.1
6 6.1 6.3 4.1 2.0
7 110.0 6.3 8.2 8.0
8 12.2 24.0 10.4 14.3 14.0
9 18.4 12.0 12.5 14.3 14.0
Highest 59.2 36.0 54.2 44.9 50.0
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

 

 

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