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Police staffing levels: disaggregating the variation

Meghan E Hollis (School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA)
Jeremy M. Wilson (School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 16 November 2015




The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between community type classifications and police strength. Prior research has examined other correlates, but no attempts have been made previously to examine the relationship between community type (as outlined and defined by Chinni and Gimpel, 2010) and police staffing levels.


Using a combination of NDLEA data on police strength, Uniform Crime Report data on crime, census data, and Chinni and Gimpel’s (2010) community classifications, this paper analyzes the relationship between a variety of correlates and police strength in 15,917 communities.


The study found that police staffing does differ by community type as well as by a variety of other key community characteristics.

Research limitations/implications

This implies that further research on appropriate tools to determine appropriate staffing levels is needed.

Practical implications

This work indicates that traditional “peer benchmarking” approaches used to determine police strength should not be considered the best practice. Other approaches may be more appropriate and should be examined.


This is the first study to incorporate classifications of community type in the analysis of police strength.



Hollis, M.E. and Wilson, J.M. (2015), "Police staffing levels: disaggregating the variation", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 38 No. 4, pp. 820-839.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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