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The Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy: A reassessment of the CAPS program

Robert M. Lombardo (Department of Criminal Justice, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
David Olson (Department of Criminal Justice, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Monte Staton (Department of Sociology, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 9 November 2010




The purpose of this paper is to study the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), the largest community policing program in the USA.


The data for this research come from the 1993‐1994 Citizen Survey of the Longitudinal Evaluation of Chicago's Community Policing Program. Referred to as the CAPS Prototype Panel Survey, the data were obtained from the Inter‐university Consortium for Political and Social Science Research. Both ordinary least square and log linear regression were used to analyze the data.


The findings indicate that people living in the CAPS prototype districts had significantly higher levels of satisfaction with police fighting crime than people living in matched comparison areas who were not subject to the CAPS program. The findings also indicate that the residents of the CAPS prototype communities were only marginally more satisfied with police keeping order than those living in non‐CAPS communities.

Research implications/limitations

The findings of this research have important implications for police‐community relations. The fact that citizens were more satisfied with police efforts against crime after the implementation of the CAPS initiative supports community policing programs that center on building strong community ties. The fact that citizens in the prototype districts were not significantly more satisfied with police order maintenance efforts bears further scrutiny.

Practical implications

The paper's findings confirm earlier research that informal (non‐enforcement) contacts with the police are important for improving satisfaction with police performance, that resident's perception of the level of disorder in their neighborhood is a significant factor shaping their opinion of the police, and that community policing is an effective way of improving police citizen interaction.


This paper analyzes 4,078 previously collected interviews.



Lombardo, R.M., Olson, D. and Staton, M. (2010), "The Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy: A reassessment of the CAPS program", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 586-606.



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