'Passing', but Far from Perfect

Assessing Public Confidence in Police and Desire for Reform in Pennsylvania

Published in: Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice (2021). doi: 10.1093/police/paab077

Posted on RAND.org on January 11, 2022

by Nathan E. Kruis, Richard H. Donohue, Payton Perry, Nicholas J. Rowland

Read More

Access further information on this document at Oxford University Press

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

With data collected from a representative sample of 522 Pennsylvania residents, this study measures public confidence in police and analyses public support for policing practices. Adopting a mixed-method approach, this study also analyses public desire for police reform and correlates of support for police reform. Findings reveal that participants expressed moderate levels of confidence in their local police, although confidence varied across racial groups. Despite this avowed confidence, participants also expressed desire for police reforms. The most supported reforms were those intended to increase officers' training on mental illness, substance use dependency, and de-escalation techniques; enhance officers' capabilities of handling critical incidents involving vulnerable populations; implement policing models that incorporate community input and oversight; and increase officer transparency and accountability. A key finding on police reform suggests that the racial divide in support for police reform is usefully informed by including, and not ignoring, significant generational, regional, and political divides. Policy implications based on these findings are discussed within.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.