Policing in a laboratory

The Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment is regarded as a milestone in police operations because it served as a medium in evaluating police action in a well-defined setting. The experiment involved the implementation of three kinds of police beats in the city for a substantial period of time. In addition, these beats were conducted in 15 defined areas of Kansas City. The experiment is important to police authorities because it addressed major questions such as whether the police authorities were active enough to control and ultimately prevent crimes in the city.

In addition, the experiment also addressed the question of whether the public would notice if there were any changes that were implemented with regards to police activity and public safety in a particular area. The experiment involved three types of police beats based on their action to calls or their visibility in patrolling their area of surveillance. The first police beat involved no regular surveillance of their assigned area of responsibility.

The second police beat was assigned to perform the defined normal frequency of surveillance, while the third police beat involved at least two times more surveillances in their area of responsibility. The experiment was conducted for exactly a year and this length of experimentation was enough to determine whether any changes did occur in Kansas City. The results of each police beat was collected through different methods, including interviews and surveys of crime victims, as well as the actual number of crimes that were committed during the entire experimental period.

The number of arrests during the entire experimental year was also collected. Additional surveys were also conducted that asked the regular citizens of the city different questions that related to their attitude towards police officers and their degree of fear for their safety in the city. One of the findings of the experiment showed that the residents of the city were not aware that some changes in police activity were implemented in the city during the entire year of experimentation. In addition, the experiment also showed that the three police beats did not affect the crimes rates in the city.

At the same time, the perceptions of the citizens with regards to public safety remained the same regardless of the changes in police activity. One of the shortcomings of the experiment was that there was no significant interaction between the police officers and the citizens unless a crime was already committed. It should be understood that public safety entails the cooperation of both law officers and the society at large, wherein both parties can provide input with regards to what is needed in order to achieve a safe environment.

It is thus possible that the experiment magnified the division between the public and the law enforcers. It is also probable that the public perceives these police officers as not part of the public because of the authority that they command. It would have been helpful if the experiment included a survey of the residents of the city and questions were asked in relation to what these individuals wanted in terms of police visibility and their fear of safety (Loo and Tsui, 2007).

Once the responses of the survey were gathered and studied, then the results from this survey could be used as guidelines in their design of the police beats. However, the experiment only involved ideas that originated from the police agency itself and thus the viewpoint of the citizens were not included. It would be interesting to know the results of another study that involved the input of the residents of a city and implementing their suggestions in the types of police beats that are assigned to each area in the city.

Reference Loo, B. P. and Tsui, K. L. (2007). Factors affecting the likelihood of reporting road crashes resulting in medical treatment to the police. Injury Prevention, 13,186-189. Conclusions drawn The Kansas City Police Department drew the conclusion that routine preventive patrol in marked police cars has little value in preventing crime or making citizens feel safe and that resources normally allocated to these activities could safely be allocated elsewhere.