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Enhancing police legitimacy by integrating Compstat and community policing

James J. Willis (Center for Justice, Leadership and Management, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 8 November 2011

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to examine how Compstat and community policing, two of the most highly‐touted police reforms to have emerged in the US over the last 25 years, might be integrated to help enhance police organizational legitimacy.

Design/methodology/approach

The article provides a conceptual framework to illuminate the different ways that each of these reforms, at least in theory, tries to promote legitimacy. In doing so, it proposes that Compstat's focus on outcomes might be more tightly linked to community policing's emphasis on the processes through which police interact with community members.

Findings

The article suggests three possible ways for police organizations to develop public trust and support: systematic reporting of community problems at Compstat meetings; involving the community in problem‐solving efforts; and using Compstat maps and statistics to help mitigate perceptions of unfairness.

Research limitations/implications

The article highlights the value of alternative conceptualizations for co‐implementing Compstat and community policing and the need for testing these ideas.

Practical implications

Identifying some different ways that Compstat and community policing may help foster favorable social judgments of police organizations could lead law enforcement agencies to reconsider how these reforms are currently co‐implemented in their departments.

Social implications

A more integrated Compstat and community policing model could potentially contribute to fairer and more responsive policing practices.

Originality/value

The paper is valuable to scholars, practitioners, and policymakers because it lays out a framework for understanding the legitimacy‐conferring benefits of these reforms and provides some practical suggestions for how they might be more closely linked.

Keywords

Citation

Willis, J.J. (2011), "Enhancing police legitimacy by integrating Compstat and community policing", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 654-673. https://doi.org/10.1108/13639511111180261

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited