Aids to Decisionmaking in Police Patrol

An Overview of Study Findings

by James S. Kakalik, Sorrel Wildhorn


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A summary of findings in a five-month study of police patrol. With increasing demands on limited funds, decisionmaking aids are needed to determine (1) proper patrol force strength; (2) equitable and effective distribution of patrol services by police district and tour of duty; and (3) effective operational policies and tactics for police patrol. Increases in police strength have not kept pace with those in reported crime, although they have outpaced population change. This study suggests that police departments (1) employ multiple criteria in decisionmaking; (2) use a more comprehensive approach to police-resource allocation, by predicting demand for services, by preventing as well as responding to crime, and by using simultaneous criteria to ensure maintenance of minimum service levels; (3) collect management-oriented data; (4) hire competent civilian planners with access to top police management; and (5) undertake long-term research and experimentation to bridge gaps in present knowledge of relationships between police resources and police effectiveness.

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