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Measuring Police Performance--Why It Matters

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Why do law enforcement agencies strive to measure their performance? For several reasons:

The types of data and methods of collection a law enforcement agency uses will depend upon what questions the agency wants to answer. For example, if an agency wants to determine citizen satisfaction with enforcement services, it may conduct an annual survey via phone, mail or Internet. If the goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of an agency's community-policing effort in a target area, the agency may collect various types of data (e.g., crime data, arrest data, calls for service), with designated reporting periods (e.g., weekly, monthly). That can be combined with a long-term measurement strategy to determine impact. In addition, the scope of a measurement effort will depend on resources available.

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