Police agencies are often faced with the task of documenting their “successes” in community policing-related activities or other organizational change efforts for government executives, funders, or community stakeholders. Standard organizational performance measures such as crime and response rates are essential elements for strategy development and evaluation. However, they need to be complemented with an appreciation for changes in departmental strategy in such areas as general engagement with the community, priority placed on community policing strategy at all levels, and perceptions of organizational transparency.
To address these issues, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (the COPS Office) contracted ICF International and the Police Executive Research Forum to develop a practical tool for agencies to measure the extent to which they have implemented community policing principles within their organizations. Community policing experts and practitioners were brought together to build and test the Community Policing Self-Assessment Tool (CP-SAT). What is unique about the CP-SAT is that it is not only completed by sworn staff at all levels, but also civilian staff who work on community partnerships and/or problem solving, and representatives from community partners who are knowledgeable about the agency and how it interacts with partners. In addition to items common to all respondents, some questions have also been tailored for different agency stakeholder types where relevant. Collecting data from multiple respondent types ensures that police administrators learn the perspective of all relevant stakeholders. The CP-SAT has been successfully tested and validated in dozens of police departments to ensure it is both scientifically valid and user-friendly for police agencies of all sizes and jurisdictions.
Results from the CP-SAT will allow agencies to enhance their community policing efforts through the identification of community policing strengths and areas for improvement. The CP-SAT is intended to be a useful management tool for all agencies and will not negatively impact any agency’s grant or future funding opportunities with the COPS Office.
The COPS Office has placed a tremendous amount of importance on the use of this tool. The CP-SAT is now ready and available on a voluntary basis to 2009 COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP) grantees. All CHRP grantees are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to administer the CP-SAT to their agency at no charge. Administration of the CP-SAT Short Form will become a mandatory requirement as a part of the COPS Hiring Program (CHP) grants beginning with 2011 and beyond. The tool will be available starting February 1, 2012 for all 2011 CHP grantees.