Wednesday, February 25, 2015

More cops does not automatically equal safer city

I want to be a police officer

The number of police is a "measurable," though, so every story about how safe people feel inevitably includes a line like this.
Among the rise in violent crime, New Orleans averaged more than one non-fatal shooting per day -- 398 -- in 2014, compared to 322 in 2013 -- a 24 percent increase. A WWL-TV report in January discovered the NOPD had 1,148 commissioned officers, well off its target of 1,600.

While less than half of those surveyed said they were satisfied with the NOPD, 77 percent said they felt safe in their neighborhoods -- compared to 81 percent in March of 2014 -- though only 44 percent said they felt safe in outside of their neighborhoods in the latest survey.
Would there have been fewer shootings if there were 1,600 NOPD?  It's hard to see how one relates to the other.  There were plenty of NOPD available to respond to a shooting at the Muses parade this year.  But there's not a lot their concentrated presence could have done to prevent it, unfortunately. 

Still, everyone is clamoring for more cops... real ones and fake ones too. So much so that this month the city council agreed to allow NOPD to reduce its hiring standards in order to help it meet its hiring goal.  This might not be such a great idea.
Research conducted by Jason Rydberg and Dr. William Terrill from Michigan State University provides evidence that having a college degree significantly reduces the likelihood that officers will use force as their first option to gain compliance. The study also discovered evidence that educated officers demonstrate greater levels of creativity and problem-solving skills​, wrote Mark Bond, criminal justice faculty at American Military University (AMU).

“A formal education teaches critical-thinking and problem-solving skills,” said Dr. Chuck Russo, program director of criminal justice at AMU. “These are vital to officers on the street and those involved with community policing, especially since discretion plays such a large part in officer-citizen contacts. The policy and procedure books agencies use can only cover so many situations and scenarios—the rest is up to the individual officer.”
It's unclear whether more police will actually be beneficial.  But we've already moved on to asking whether more bad police will help.  Should be fun finding the answer to that one.

1 comment:

whynotnow said...

Yeah, lowering hiring standards for the police force has worked so well in Albuquerque.