There is a problem in Springfield, Illinois. According to Forbes magazine, Springfield, Illinois is the third most dangerous city in the United States. Springfield, Illinois is also the fourth most dangerous city in the United States for women. This determination was made by Forbes magazine after reviewing the 2010 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Report. It is based on this that this paper will conduct an examination regarding the current processes utilized by the local police precincts in crime prevention and determine whether there are necessary changes that need to be implemented in order to better address the issue of crime in Springfield, Illinois.
Citizens of a community should have the reasonable expectation to live in a crime free society. Taxpayers contribute to the public coffers to support crime reduction efforts on a national, state, and local level. Policing agencies work tirelessly to reduce crime within their jurisdictions incorporating the latest technologies at their disposal while operating under intense fiscal restrictions and public scrutiny. Several questions arise when individual law enforcement entities fail to meet the public’s reasonable expectations of safety within their community. This qualitative study will explore these questions from multiple perspectives. Specifically, this study will explore the city police department in Springfield, IL and the impact a high crime rate has on the community at large. The City of Springfield Police Department has recently been deemed extremely ineffective based upon comparative statistics with other police agencies throughout the country. This study will explore the crime-fighting practices utilized by the City of Springfield Police Department, the efficacy of those practices, and the resultant impact on the local community.
Background of the study
Crimes and criminals are as old as mankind. Humanity has constantly wrestled with the concept of how society should regulate behavior deemed inappropriate by that society. Classical theorists believe that criminal activities are a choice of free will. If criminals felt that the punishment was sufficiently severe then an individual’s internal “risks versus rewards” argument would deter people from committing crimes. These beliefs were extremely prominent in 18th and 19th centuries. Two prominent early classical theorists largely influenced the way crime and punishment is viewed today. In 1764, Cesare Beccaria wrote “Of Crimes and Punishments.” This is considered to be the first book written about the criminal justice system. Beccaria was against the death penalty and felt that the punishment of a crime should be appropriate to the severity of the crime. “Crimes of every kind should be less frequent, in proportion to the evil they produce to society.”(Beccaria, 1764) Beccaria believed that when excessive punishment was attributed to a given crime, criminals would choose to commit worse crimes if the punishment were going to be the same no matter how severe the crime was which they undertook. Jeremy Bentham, felt that punishment should be primarily used as a deterrent to prevent further crime.
Positivist theorists do not believe that criminal behavior is a matter of free will; it is rather a condition external to an individual’s choice. Positivists believe that conditions which contribute to criminal behavior include genetic makeup, moral development, and learned behaviors. Sociological contributing factors include excessive poverty and an individual’s inability to achieve wealth through other means. One criticism of positivist theory is that such beliefs fail to provide a means which deters/prevents crime.
Taylor, Walton, and Young developed the theory of Radical Criminology. They theorized that crime was a product of society and specifically the powerful elite within a society. Although this was considered to be a Marxist belief, there is a certain degree of truth to such a theory. Society dictates what behaviors are considered unacceptable and what behaviors are considered acceptable. Those acts which society considers unacceptable are punished whereas those which are considered acceptable are not. (Taylor, Walton, & Young, 1988) closely related to radical criminology is labeling theory. Labeling theory posits that when society labels an individual, the labeling becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.(Gove, 1975). This label dramatically impacts an individual self-esteem and stigmatizes them by society. One example of labeling is that of an alcoholic.
Constitutional theories, specifically an individual’s physical constitution, regarding the root cause of criminality include body type and genetic predispositions. Environmental theories/considerations when determining an individual’s propensity for criminality include whether or not an individual’s parents had criminal records, the environment the child grew up in, family stability, and peer group. Poverty and a societal disparity in economics is also a known contributor to an individual’s propensity to commit crimes. (Stack, 1984)
Despite all of the studies which have taken place to understand the root cause of crime and criminal behavior, crime continues to occur. It is the duty of the police officer to prevent crime and/or arrest and incarcerate those individuals who commit crimes. Police departments are under constant scrutiny by the general public. Fiscal constraints established by politicians frequently dictate the amount of resources available for police departments to accomplish their mission of serving and protecting the public. “According to the U.S. Justice Department, each prisoner is costing tax payers on average, between $22,000 and $25,000 a year.” (Hopkins, 2012)
Police departments and police officers are also scrutinized regarding their behavior and efficiency in performing their mission. One program which has been gaining recognition and use throughout the world for its effectiveness in combating crime is Compstat. Compstat uses statistical analysis of a geographic region to determine where crime is occurring which assists police departments in effectively combatting that crime.
The four CompStat principles are as follows:
- Accurate and timely intelligence: Know what is happening.
- Effective tactics: Have a plan.
- Rapid deployment: Do it quickly.
- Relentless follow-up and assessment: If it works, do more. If not, do something else. (Godown, 2012)
By closely scrutinizing statistical data, police forces are able to accurately assess trends and hotspots of criminal activity in their operational area. By rapidly responding to these hotspots, police are able to more effectively fight crime and focus their energies in the geographic areas where their assistance is most needed.
One disadvantage with using computer-generated models as a crime-fighting tool is the potential for skewing data. To adequately explore crime rates statisticians, researchers and the police themselves must take into account the difference between crime concentration and crime prevalence. Understanding the difference between these two terms is extremely important in order to have a true grasp of how crime is occurring in a given area. Crime prevalence indicates the degree of crimes which occur in a given area over a given period of time. Crime concentration takes into account individuals or property which has been victimized repeatedly. Statistically, if 10 houses are burglarized one time each or if one houses burglarized 10 times, the number of incidents is still 10. However, the approach used by police when dealing with these incidents is dramatically different. (Rogerson, 2008) research by and that Compstat has had on the middle managers of the NYPD specifically related to work pressures. Through the use of questionnaires of retired NYPD police officers as well as interviews, the authors determined that there was a significant increase in pressure on the middle managers after the implementation of Compstat. The accountability aspect of Compstat has created an environment where the importance of sound police work has been superseded by mid-level managers” chasing the numbers” in an effort to protect their jobs.
This article demonstrated an extreme case of a good idea gone badly. Several strategies are utilized by the police force to skew crime statistics in their favor. Police use a strategy known as “downgrading” to reduce crime statistics. To affect this strategy, officers charge perpetrators with a crime one step lower than was actually committed. One such example is categorizing the crime of grand larceny as lost property. By filing the crime report in this manner a felony is actually reported as a misdemeanor. Another strategy used by police to reduce crime rate statistics is to devalue the amount of property lost by the victim to a crime which also reduces the crime from a felony to a misdemeanor. Under reporting crimes also reduce the amount of statistical data available for review. Another way to skew the reported statistics is when an officer simply misplaces a file during the reporting period only to” find” it at a later date. The most egregious strategy incorporated by the police to reduce crime statistics is to make it difficult for victims to report when a crime has occurred. Such tactics do little to instill faith and confidence in the public which the police department serve.
This is an unfortunate situation due to the fact that Compstat has been adopted by many police forces both in the United States and abroad. These examples demonstrate how ambiguous crime statistics can be. One would assume that criminals would be charged with the maximum violation possible in order that they receive the largest sentence possible relative to the crime. However, this is not necessarily the case. Crime statistics are only as accurate as the individuals supplying the data. Those police forces with the desire to reduce the crime rate in their jurisdiction (on paper) certainly have many strategies at their disposal in which to accomplish this task. In a time when fiscal resources are extremely scarce, police departments are being scrutinized by the public. They are being scrutinized not only regarding their fiscal policies but their effectiveness as well. Crime statistics are one of the ways in which the public judges the police department in their community. By failing to accurately report crime statistics, police forces fail to appropriately warn the public of potential dangers and also lose their ability to track criminal hotspots throughout their jurisdiction.
To better facilitate a Police Department’s interaction with the community, many departments have adopted the practice of community policing. The philosophy behind community policing is that it provides a win/win situation for the department and the community. Officers closely interact with the general public which provides a positive image of the Police Department and allows community members to get to know individual officers. Members of the community are better able to see the various roles required of a police officer as they perform their duties and have a more informed voice when discussing police related issues in a public forum. Police officers are able to deal with individuals on a one-on-one basis allowing them to problem solve which gives them the opportunity to get to know more individuals in their community. This relationship becomes symbiotic in nature. The community feels that the Police Department cares about them on individual level and the community keeps police officers informed of criminal activities within a given area. (United States Department of Justice, 2012) community policing also has a very positive impact relative to the reduction of fear within a local community. The sociological impact of such activities has been explored from a socio-demographic and social-psychological perspective. (Meško, G, 2007).
It is been said that if you build a better mousetrap, there will be smarter mice. This adage proves true in the arena of law enforcement practices. As technology increases in the law enforcement community, criminals also employ technology to affect their crimes and avoid prosecution. Police departments must ensure that they are appropriately employing the latest developments in crime-fighting technology and other staff members are trained to maximize its usage.
Even with the advances made in technology, a large portion of crime-fighting rests on the shoulders of the individual officer. Officers are expected to perform their duties in a professional manner at all times under intense public scrutiny. Ethical behavior by officers and management are demanded at all times by the public. Modern-day cell phone technology has allowed the general public to photograph and videotape officers under extreme duress in the performance of their duties. These photographs and videotapes can later be recalled in the court of public opinion at any time.
Prior research has identified many ways in which law enforcement agencies can be more effective and more community oriented. To my knowledge, no research has been performed specifically on the efficacy of City of Springfield Illinois Police Department. Such a study would prove to be very enlightening for the police force, political decision makers, and the community at large. An objective perspective regarding the Springfield Police Department could provide a much-needed confidence boost to the community should the results come back positive from this research or demonstrate areas of improvement should the results come back negative.
Statement of the Problem
When taking into consideration the high rates of crime associated with Springfield, Illinois, it must be questioned whether the current processes utilizes under the Compstat model of the local police precincts are effective in combating crime. Such an investigation can be conducted through an examination of the opinions of local law enforcement personnel and civilians in order to determine whether the program, in their eyes, continues to be effective or if there are significant flaws that need to be addressed.
The purpose of this study is to understand the statistical data utilized to determine the criminal rankings utilized by the Federal Bureau of Investigations relative to Springfield, Illinois. This study will further explore the various crime rates within the City of Springfield and efforts by the City of Springfield Police Department to deter/prevent crime. This case study of the City of Springfield Police Department will include systems theory and possibly reality testing as additional components. As an additional component, this study will also assume a phenomenological approach regarding the impact of crime on the community at large. It is this author’s hope that such a study will promote positive social change by providing decision-makers access to accurate, objective, and timely information regarding the efficacy of the City of Springfield Police Department and the impact their efforts have on the citizens of Springfield.
While the Mayor of Springfield professes that the statistics cited in the Forbes magazine article are incorrect, it is self-evident that even if there are statistical anomalies which have raised the city of Springfield Illinois higher in crime standings that it actually should be, there is still a large amount of crime in the city. As a scholar researcher, I hope that an in-depth study of the Springfield area and the City of Springfield Police Department will provide information which can effectively promote positive social change.
The interviewing phase of this qualitative research study will take place in two separate parts. The first series of questions will be directed specifically to members of the City of Springfield Police Department. The purpose of these questions will be to assist the researcher in ascertaining:
- The efficacy of the Police Department
- Potential problems within the Police Department
- Possible methods to improve the efficacy of the Police Department.
Follow-up questions will be specifically related to community outreach programs and/or attempts to facilitate community-based policing.
- Do the statistics provided in the Federal Bureau of investigation uniform crime report truly and honestly reflect the degree of crime occurring in Springfield Illinois?
- What are the contributory factors to this statistically high rate of crime in Springfield Illinois?
- What steps are being taken by the Springfield Police Department to reduce crime in the city?
- What current technologies are being used by the Springfield Police Department to reduce crime?
- Are there any current initiatives to employee new and emerging technologies?
- What types of community outreach programs does the police force employee and are they effective?
- What ethical, systemic, or procedural barriers are there to successful policing in Springfield, Illinois?
- What are the initial hiring requirements to be a City of Springfield police officer?
- What initial training do police officers receive before being activated on the police force?
- What supplemental training do officers receive after becoming a member of the Springfield police department?
- Does the police force feel that it has a realistic grasp of the degree of crime in Springfield, Illinois relative to cities of similar size nationwide?
- Is there anyone else you feel I should talk to?
Questions for the focus group will be open-ended in an effort to stimulate conversation amongst the participants.
- Do you feel safe in your neighborhood?
- Do you feel there is a police presence in your neighborhood?
- What interactions have you had with the Springfield Police Department?
- What were the circumstances?
- What was the outcome?
- Are you aware of any outreach programs facilitated by the Springfield Police Department?
- Have you or someone you personally know been the victim of a crime in Springfield?
- What were the circumstances?
- What was the outcome?
- How did this event impact your perceptions of the Springfield Police Department
Theoretical or conceptual framework
From a methodological perspective, I have chosen the case study approach coupled with a focus group to better understand the degree of crime and the City of Springfield Police Department. The value of a case study and the importance of a case study to me as a researcher is that it allows the researcher the opportunity to closely scrutinize a very narrow subject. “Case study is the study of the particularity and complexity of a single case, coming to understand its activity within important circumstances.” (Stake, 1995) I hope to use an epistemological approach to the case studyportion of the research. Being able to closely interact with the police officers will allow me to better understand the processes and procedures utilized by the Springfield Police Department to reduce crime in the city. By understanding all options available to the Springfield police force in deterring crime and closely interacting with the police officers of the City of Springfield Police Department I hope to make some observations as to why the level of crime is as high as it is.
Close interaction with the City of Springfield Police Department also comes with its own set of challenges. Due to the public stature of police forces in their local communities, police departments can be extremely sensitive regarding research and research projects. This sensitivity is well-founded based on the fact that research could cast the police department in a negative light. Several strategies that will help reduce potential conflicts between the police department staff in the researcher. Of primary importance is the establishment of good communication between the researcher and the Police Department. This will be critical during the course of the research as well as the dissemination of the findings. When the researcher disseminates their findings, it may be necessary to develop a second document written specifically for the layperson (policymakers).
Research projects at a doctoral level have the capacity to garner media attention. It is extremely important that the researcher go through proper protocols prior to releasing any information to the media regarding the outcomes of their research. Proper protocols include allowing sufficient time prior to any media event so that the Police Department can notify the appropriate people attending of the time. This notification can include politicians, the police command structure, and rank-and-file officers if necessary.
The researcher must also communicate with all parties involved in the research project the guidelines which will be used during the course of the project. Consideration should be given to potential liability issues, conditions of anonymity/confidentiality, and the dissemination of any data collected during the course of the research. The researcher should also seek guidance in any type of interaction with staff members which might be impacted by collective bargaining agreements.
The community impact of crime in Springfield, Illinois will be explored using a focus group. The participants of this focus group will consist of business owners invited from various sections of the city. I feel that the theoretical perspectives which serve as a foundation for my research project are very much in alignment with what I hope to accomplish. To fully understand the challenges and successes which are faced by the Springfield Police Department, it is imperative that I develop a close relationship with those officers. To understand the impact of crime on Springfield, I feel that business owners would be appropriate people to talk to because they are typically pillars of their community and have their finger on the pulse of what goes on in their area of the community.
Nature of the study
One major advantage of qualitative research as opposed to quantitative research is that the researcher has the ability to explore the subject matter content on an in-depth and personal level. While both types of research can lead to great strides in the understanding of subject matter, qualitative research offers more insight and provides a forum regarding the “human story” of the subject. This qualitative study is divided into two separate components. The first component consists of interviewing active-duty police officers from each Alderman ward. (See map) In order to explore why the rate of crime is so high in Springfield, Illinois, I will use operational construct sampling coupled with Snowball/chain sampling. The City of Springfield is divided into eight separate police beats. Each police beat is assigned a “beat officer”. My objective is to interview each individual beat officer, the Mayor, as well as the Chief of Police. One of the interview questions which I will ask each participant is “is there anyone else you feel I should talk to?”
As an assignment in a previous class, we were tasked with interviewing three of our fellow classmates. It was during this assignment that I learned how difficult it can be to schedule interviews so that the timing meets the interviewer and the participant’s schedule. I feel that by scheduling interviews with the eight beat police officers, Mayor, and the Chief of Police, I will have a well-rounded understanding of crime in Springfield. Based on the difficulty experienced interviewing three people, I feel that interviewing nine extremely busy police officers will present its own set of time challenges. Any “chain” related interviews will present additional time demands. I feel this interview panel will provide information that is useful, credible, realistic from a time perspective, and will help me better understand the issues surrounding the rate of crime in Springfield and the operational policies and procedures of the Springfield Police Department.
Prior to scheduling any interviews with the officers, I intend to schedule a meeting with the Police Chief. During this meeting, I will explain to the chief the purpose of my visit and the purpose of my research. I’m still concern regarding the most appropriate way to maintain the confidentiality of the officers who I interview. While it will be relatively easy to provide the officers pseudonyms, I have serious concerns that some of their stories may indicate the location at which they work thereby reducing the amount of confidentiality available. One potential solution to this problem is to simply stop officers on the street and ask them if they would be willing to participate in an interview. The exact approach to this process is one I will discuss with my committee members as well as the chief of police.
Interviews will be held at a location which is yet to be determined. The interviews with individual participants will be scheduled for an hour-long. An hour should be sufficient time for the officers to fully answer the open-ended questions without feeling rushed. It is this authors hope that the police officers will feel sufficiently comfortable to share personal stories and insights into the inner workings of the Police Department. The interviews will be taped using videotape and transcribed into written format for coding. Areas of consideration relative to the interviews and focus group include:
- having my questions written out verbatim
- transcribing the questions and answers verbatim
- building rapport with my participants
- allowing the participants sufficient time to adequately answer each question
- utilizing a coding structure/format that I was very familiar with
- guaranteeing the participants confidentiality
- admitting my own personal biases regarding the subject matter
- reading the material several times so that I was thoroughly familiar with it before coding
Members of the focus group will be selected at random from each of the eight Ald. wards. To accomplish this task I intend to use the phone book in order to identify businesses which are located throughout the city. I intend to call the owners of the various businesses and asked them if they would be willing to participate in a two-hour long focus group. The focus group we held in the center of the city a location yet to be determined. The focus group will be scheduled for a 2 1/2 hour period. I feel 2 1/2 hours will be a sufficient amount of time for the participants to adequately feel comfortable in their surroundings and address each question in an in depth manner.
Conversations from the interviews as well as the focus groups will be coded using the Nvivo qualitative research computer program. Coding is a skill which requires practice and perseverance to perfect. The act of coding data allows the researcher the ability to avoid information overload by consolidating vast amounts of information under a much smaller umbrella of usable codes representing certain segments of information. Coding also allows the researcher the ability to retrieve pertinent data in a timely manner from the information. Effectively coding information allows the researcher to easily draw “lines of relationship” between segments of information from many different sources.
Researchers have three primary options when considering coding. During the initial phase of coding, researchers can utilize a “start list” (Miles & Huberman, 1994). This start list allows the researcher to begin the coding process and additional codes can be added as the researcher sifts through the data. It would seem to me this approach to data coding would be extremely beneficial to an individual who has limited experience in the coding process. One disadvantage to using an extensive start list during the coding process is that the data may be inappropriately pigeonholed into a category. The impact of this practice is that potential relationships could be misidentified or totally missed by the researcher.
Another alternative to the coding process is to begin building codes once the research data is being analyzed. This approach allows the researcher to build the coding structure around the data itself. This approach allows the researcher the flexibility to apply a coding structure that fits the data. A hybrid option is also available to the researcher. Beginning with a very generic start list, the researcher can build additional codes as needed. Utilizing the hybrid approach allows the researcher a framework from which to expand. Miles and Huberman provide several examples of basic coding frameworks from which the researcher may build additional and more succinct codes.
To appropriately code this data, I will use a hybridized start list and program the codes into nodes. I will also use the word search function of the program to draw correlations between common threads of the interviews and focus group transcriptions. Nvivo also has functions for storing photographs and other types of data such as spreadsheets in the event that these types of data become part of the research process. Consideration is also being given to utilizing the Atlas program for its mapping capabilities. To better my understanding of the crime rates in Springfield, I intend to map all serious crimes in the city of Springfield over the past five years. It is my understanding that the police currently use a mapping program to track this data. I’m unsure at this point in time what program they used to facilitate this process. I believe I can access this data through the Freedom of Information Act.
The ethical concerns I have regarding this project revolve around my capacity to maintain the confidentiality of the participants. While it will be relatively easy to maintain this confidentiality from the general public, it will be far more difficult to maintain the confidentiality of the officers from the police chief. Based on the fact that police departments can become very political, I questioned myself how forthright the officers will be when providing answers to the interview questions.
To provide informed consent, I will draft a letter to each participant stipulating who I am, the purpose of the study, their rights to confidentiality, and offered to provide them a copy of the transcripts once they are transcribed. Obviously, confidentiality regarding the focus group participants will be much more difficult to maintain because there may be another member of the focus group who recognizes one of the participants. For the purposes of transcription, officers will simply be designated a number. For example officer 1, officer 2 etc. For the purposes of confidentiality, I can also designate the police chief as well is the Mayor with “officer” designations. Participants in the focus groups will also simply be designated with a number.
Another ethical concern I have regarding this project is the ability for the officers to speak freely from their legal perspective. Officers are entrusted with a vast amount of information which is unknown to the general public. As part of this public trust, they also have a duty to the public to maintain confidentiality. It is my hope that we can conduct significant discourse sufficient to provide insight into the Springfield Police Department and crimes in Springfield.
Significance of the study
It is this researcher’s hope that this study will contribute to the knowledge base of police operations and the impact of crime on a metropolitan area. The Springfield Police Department has been publicly denigrated and embarrassed. The question still remains as to whether this denigration and embarrassment is warranted. In the event that this treatment is unfair and inappropriate, a sense of justice will be served and an objective rationale for the Federal Bureau of Investigation ratings can come forth. In the event that the treatment is fair and appropriate, a better understanding will be provided for such ratings.
This research project is important to the political decision-makers in Springfield, the Springfield police force, and the public at large. It is this researchers hope that regardless of the outcome of the project insight will be provided to all parties relative to the efficacy of the Springfield Police Department. By better understanding the efficacy of the Springfield Police Department and the impact of crime in Springfield, all parties concerned will be able to take the appropriate steps for positive social change.
Scope and Limitations
The independent variable in this study consists of the academic literature that will be gathered by the researcher for the literature review while the dependent variable will consist of the responses gained from the police officers and local residents that will be recruited for this study. It is anticipated that through a correlation between literature on the current state of the airline industry and the responses of the police officers and local residents, the researcher will in effect be able to make a logical connection regarding the current effectiveness of police crime prevention programs in Springfield, Illinois.
Overall, the data collection process is expected to be uneventful; however, some challenges may be present in collecting data involving loyalty programs and current airline practices that are to be utilized in this study. Such issues though can be resolved through access to online academic resources such as EBSCO hub, Academic Search Premier, Master FILE Premier, Newspaper Source Plus, and AP News Monitor Collection. Other databases consulted for this topic include Emerald Insight, Academic OneFile, Expanded Academic ASAP, General OneFile, Global Issues in Context, Newsstand, Opposing Views in Context, popular magazines as well as other such online databases which should have the necessary information. Relevant books were also included in the review. Furthermore, websites such as The Economist.com have several online articles which contain snippets of information that should be able to help steer the study towards acquiring the necessary sources needed to justify asserted arguments. It must be noted that the time constraint for this particular study only allows structured interviews with an unrepresentative number of people, and also a limited amount of flexibility when conducting the interview
The main weakness of this study is in its reliance on interview results as the primary source of data in order to determine the general opinion of police officers and local residents regarding crime prevention. There is always the possibility that the responses could be false or that the person in question really does not know anything at all about the nuances of crime prevention as indicated by the researcher. While this can be resolved by backing up the data with relevant literature, it still presents itself as a problem that cannot be easily remedied.
The dissertation will consist of the following parts:
- Chapter 1 will contain the introduction, background of the study, the study limitations as well as its aims and objectives.
- Chapter 2 will consist of a literature review detailing the origin of crime in Springfield, Illinois, the aspects of Compstat, the processes that can be used to prevent crime, potential problems in changing the procedures of police departments as well as what factors contribute to continued criminal activity.
- Chapter 3 will consist of the methodology that will be utilized in the study as well as the means by which data will be collected.
- Chapter 4 will contain the results of the study and will discuss the implications of the results.
- Chapter 5 will consist of the conclusion and recommendation section of the paper.
Understanding Structural Inequality and its Impact on Criminal Activity
Structural inequality, in essence, is an inherent bias within social structures which can provide some advantages to a select group of people within society while at the same time marginalizing others (Hojman, 2002). This can be seen in instances related to racism, education and discrimination wherein certain segments of the population are categorized and marginalized depending on the color of their skin and their particular race (Hojman, 2002).
Racial discrimination in the American Justice system is an ongoing problem within the U.S. that indicates a deep societal inclination towards bias for certain ethnic and social groups within the general population of the country. Ever since the 1980’s a boom in prison construction has occurred fueled by America’s war on drugs wherein arrests related to possession and use has been met with ever lengthening prison sentences (Fowles & Merva, 1996). Yet a majority of those arrested have been African Americans who actually represent one of the smallest percentages of drug users in the country (Fowles & Merva, 1996). In fact various studies examining the proliferation of drug use within American society today all indicate that a majority of users are in fact Caucasians (Xie & MCdowall, 2010). Other studies examining the inter-relation between criminal arrests and race show that African Americans, Mexicans and even Latin Americans are more likely to be arrested as compared to Caucasians (Ousey, 1999).
The reason behind this is an apparent racial predilection connecting race to criminal behavior wherein police concentrate their efforts in areas with large groups of minorities as compared to areas with high percentages of Caucasians due to an apparent assumption that if a crime will happen it will most likely happen in those areas. The inherent problem with this is that it becomes a “self fulfilling prophecy” in that a higher predilection to suspect minorities for crimes does indeed result in minorities being arrested for crimes but this leaves out the much larger Caucasian population resulting in various individuals going un-arrested due to the lack of police suspicion in particular areas (Helms & Costanza, 2009). It must be noted that this apparent racial discrimination is not limited to criminal arrests but rather extends to various social situations related to economic opportunity, education and even the way people are treated in public (Parker & McCall, 1999). This in effect creates social segregation wherein American society is becoming increasingly divided over racial lines.
For example, the recent law involving illegal immigration passed by Arizona has in effect created a form of discrimination against many Mexicans living within the country who are in fact here legally. The fact is structural inequality is one of the main reasons behind the continued limitation behind the school system and various careers wherein minorities are in fact being discriminated against due to connotations involving their propensity towards illegal or criminal behavior. An examination of studies such as those by Mollick (2012) which delved into the processes utilized by the police within the U.S. to identify and apprehend suspects showed that there is a considerable level of discrimination in suspect identification (Mollick, 2012).
This was evidenced by the S.O.Ps (Standard Operating Procedures) of numerous departments wherein operations related to the “stop and investigate” methodology often focused on individuals belonging to minority groups (i.e. African Americans, Latinos, and Hispanics) Mollick. The basis behind such procedural guidelines was due to the disproportionate amount of criminal activity related to such cases wherein African Americans, Latinos, and Hispanics were often the guilty party ranging from activities related to petty theft to serious crimes such as drug dealing and murder. However, studies such as Sampson (1985) present the notion that the reason behind such criminal activities, is due to structural inequality present in U.S. society at the present wherein the association of criminal behavior to such groups, despite it being fallacious, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as they are denied numerous opportunities related to education and work due to such an association.
One example clear example where structural inequality promotes discrimination and in effect criminal activity can be seen in the current U.S. school system and their use of tracking in order to segregate performers from nonperformers (Thomas, 2008). While on paper it can be seen as a viable way of providing the proper type of education where it is needed the most the fact remain that the tracking system has actually resulted in racial lines being drawn with white Americans normally being segregated into the upper tier of the tracking system while minorities are usually set in the lower tier system.
While it may be true that some minorities do have difficulties in learning due to their origins (i.e. English being their second language), the fact remains that such a system actually perpetuates the concept of societal inequality where it has come to be believed that white Americans are more predilected towards success while minorities are leaning towards marginal careers at best. This is not only limited to the current school system in lower grades but also in higher education wherein the basis of college admission is the use of SAT scores as a indicator of talent in an individual. The one problem with using SAT scores as the main criteria for evaluating college admissions is that they fail to accurately represent the true value or abilities that a person possesses. Take for example an individual who works to support his family, gets marginally good grades in school and average SAT results, it can be assumed that the average SAT results and the marginally good grades could be attributed to the fact that this individual has to work to support his family rather and as a result could not devote the same amount of time into studying.
Most individuals would not be capable of balancing work, family obligations and going to school yet here is a person that is able to do that. Based on an examination of various applications of minorities to several colleges it has been shown that on average the SAT score of white Americans outclassed that of their minority counterparts yet this is not an indicator of superior talent but rather white students were given more opportunities to learn and develop as a result of their social advantage.
This particular form of structural inequality this denies the possibility of certain minorities from entering particular colleges resulting in not only a degree of inequality in lower education but in higher education as well. Other forms of structural inequalities that can be seen take the form of community marginalization wherein particular types of races are concentrated in certain communities. What this cause is an imbalance in the distribution of wealth where money is consistently isolated in white populations while minorities are made to stagnate in their respective income niches. Based on this the benefits of being able to thinking intersectionally can be seen in taking into consideration the different races, classes and genders and look at them from a perspective examining the effects society has on them rather than their effects on society (Thomas, 2008).
What must first be understood is that all types of criminal behavior have some form of trigger that causes itself to manifest in a person. No one is born a criminal or is inherently criminal, rather, attributes in the surrounding environment influence the way in which a person acts which causes the criminal behavior to manifest in the first place (Redding & Venables, 2004). For example, various social scientists indicate that a person’s race is invariably connected to that person’s propensity or possibility of being able to commit a crime. African Americans, Mexicans and Latin Americans are actually three of the most identifiable demographics when it comes to identifying the origins of crime in certain parts of the U.S.
Based on this, authors such as Redding & Venables (2004) point out that there is an inherent connection between social inequalities and perpetuation of criminal behavior. The three most identifiable minorities in connection to a vast majority of crime in the country are also the three most identifiable minorities in connection to poverty, social inequality and a distinct lack of education standing and achievement. Data from various school districts around the U.S. reveals that communities composed of African Americans, Mexicans and Latin Americans were among those that were predicted to perform the most poorly in terms of scholastic achievement while communities composed primarily of white Americans were predicted to perform at a much higher level. This is in part due to two factors: racial prejudice against the capabilities of minorities and class prejudice against a class with a lower income threshold. While school districts may say they are not prejudiced the fact remains that the current system of segregation within schools wherein students at the same grade level are grouped into different blocks depending on aggregate skill is in fact a form of discrimination since it encourages social class disparity.
From a sociological perspective, this particular form of behavior encourages the creation of criminal tendencies in people since it reinforces the social idea that minorities cannot rise above what they currently are. What this means for various businesses is that often when minorities apply for jobs they lack the educational capacity, experience and networks that a person from a majority possesses which affects hiring decisions despite the presence of affirmative action programs and reverse discrimination policies (Cohen et al., 1981). Various studies conducted examining the hiring practices of various HR departments have also shown that despite the presence of affirmative action programs most HR personal tend to call people for interviews with names that sound like they belong to a majority while at times ignoring those that belong to minorities unless upper management says that they need to round out the talent pool with minorities (Cohen et al., 1981). It based on this that it can be seen that there is a distinct connection between race, poverty and the inevitability of crime due to discrimination.
Another way how a sociological perspective helps to show how social inequalities create careers in criminality can be seen in various studies involving population structures and rates of crime. As it can be seen in various inner city neighborhoods in the L.A. area, the population structure in several areas is geared towards low income families and the concentration of minorities into a single area (Peterson & Krivo, 1993). It must be noted that the rate of crime in various areas has been proven to go up depending on the income rate of the populations within it. As such, areas with population structures geared towards low income families and people create the possibility for criminal behaviors to occur as a result of desperation or distinct rate influence from people in the surrounding environment (Peterson & Krivo, 1993).
Thus, the connection between race, culture and population structures can be understood under the sociological context that since certain races and population demographics are considered to be more predilected towards criminal behavior they are not given the chance to rise above this distinction which causes it to manifest (Browning et al., 2008). By viewing crimes from a sociological perspective researchers can begin to understand why certain criminal careers begin in the first place.
Despite Springfield, Illinois and its surrounding counties (Sangamon and Menard county) being ranked 3rd in the nation’s list of most dangerous cities to live in, there is actually a disparity in the statistics that one would normally associate with areas with high crime rates. On average, the unemployment rate within the general area is actually lower than the national average of 7%. In fact, despite the high amount of crime the economy of the area is generally robust and continuing along an upward trend. This goes against studies crime association studies such as those by Parker (2001) which correlate dire economic conditions with high rates of crime. In fact, when comparing the unemployment rate of Springfield, Illinois and its surrounding counties with that of other counties in Florida, North Carolina and Kansas which have experienced a considerable degree of economic hardship yet have low crime rates, it is evident that there is another factor at work which is causing crimes within the general vicinity (Parker, 2001). One potential explanation is related to the concept of structural inequality that was mentioned earlier.
An examination of the demographic data of Springfield, Illinois showed that on average 75.8 percent of the local population was composed of Caucasians while 18.5 percent was composed of African Americans. The remainder was a mixture of Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Latinos and other races. What is interesting to note is that from the year 2000 till 2010 the African American population within the area increased from 111,454 to 116,250 as a result of migrations of the African American population from larger urban centers such as Chicago to smaller ones such as Springfield, Illinois. The same can be said for the Hispanic and Latino population that increased by roughly 1,000 individuals from 2000 to 2010 which also came about as a result of migration from larger population centers. The reason behind such migrations is connected to the economic robustness of the local market which was stated earlier which many minorities interpreted as a “signal” so to speak to try their luck within the local area. However, an examination of the migrating African American, Hispanic and Latin American population revealed that a disproportional amount of the immigrants were from low income families with little, if any, substantial work experience and education. As explained by Hall & Simkus (1975), individuals with low income levels and little in the way of substantial education have a greater predilection to turn towards crime due to the limited opportunities that are presented to them (Hall & Simkus, 1975). Combined with an individual’s potential status as a minority, this would further limit their capacity to obtain a decent paying job and increase the likelihood of them turning towards a life of crime to sustain themselves.
It should also be noted that a majority of the businesses within Springfield, Illinois are owned by the White majority with managers, shop keepers and other individuals of authority normally being White. In his study involving discrimination and its impact on criminal behavior, Williams & Drake (1980) explains that a combination of structural inequality with tendencies of racial discrimination limits the opportunities available to minority populations due to limited opportunities. Williams & Drake (1980) points out to examples such as the Shiite discrimination is certain sectors of Africa and the Middle East wherein due to their religious orientation they are in effect denied job opportunities due to the level of discrimination the shop keepers and managers have towards their religious sect. As a result, they often have to turn to crime in order to get by. In the case of Springfield, Illinois what is present is a White majority with an increasing level of Black, Hispanic and Latino immigrants who are looking for better opportunities within the local area, yet, are met with discrimination from the White majority leading to a denial of opportunities resulting in them turning to crime (Sampson, 1985). While such a viewpoint may be controversial since few individuals would openly admit to being racist due to the negative social connotations attached to the description, the fact remains that there is still a level of racial animosity within the local population.
Evidence of this can be seen in the study of Parker & Maggard (2005) which examined the local population of the U.S. and saw that there is still a considerable income gap and education gap between the White majority population and the African American-Mexican-Latino minority population. Neighborhoods are still drawn across “ethnic lines” so to speak with White neighborhoods often being the most economically stable and prosperous as compared to their minority counterparts. Other studies support the claims of Parker & Maggard (2005) by showing that Springfield, Illinois has had a history of racial discrimination since the mid 1990s which continues to persist due to the population imbalance. Studies such as Grimalda & Vivarelli (2010) explain that wherever there is a considerable structural inequality within a particular region which is then combined with racial discrimination against a minority population set, it is often the case that racial discrimination occurs resulting in increases in local crime. By combining the factors that have been elaborated on so far, this helps to determine the origin of crime within the Springfield, Illinois area wherein structural inequality and racial discrimination can be considered as contributors towards encouraging the increase in local crime rates (Structural and organizational predictors of homicide by police, 2004).
Evaluating the use of the COMPSTAT model
Implemented in 1994, the Compstat process has been recognized as an innovation which has helped to significantly improve the organizational/administrative processes that have gone into police activity within numerous police precincts and districts in the United States (Witkin, 1996). Witkin (1996) explains that the system works through the culmination of crime data from certain districts, they’re subsequent mapping (i.e. indicating what type of crime occurs in what neighborhood and to what extent) after which police resources are efficiently dispatched in order to reduce crime in that particular neighborhood based on an evaluation regarding the type and amount of police presence necessary. McKay (2003) elaborates more on this by stating that COMPSTAT utilizes crime strategy meetings as well as implements the concept of internal accountability which enables a far greater responsiveness to crime as opposed to merely assigning work and expecting individual cops to deal with the problem on their own.
It should also be noted that COMPSTAT places a considerable emphasis on resource flexibility. emphasis on Resource flexibility entails the allocation of police resources towards the formation of special units and taskforces to resolve identified issues via the COMPSTAT process which are under the direct supervision of a district chief or top management. Such a process enables a local police force to be more flexible in terms of addressing specific crimes within particular contexts (i.e. drug proliferation, smuggling, black market trade of goods, etc.). However, despite the positive aspects of the COMPSTAT system that were elaborated on so far, not all aspects of the Compstat system are generally positive or result in completely effective police action. For example, under the study of Willis et al. (2008) it was noted that there was considerable level of dissatisfaction with the COMPSTAT system in numerous police districts due to its constant pressure on performance of police chiefs and street cops, its rigidness in handling crime in certain cases (i.e. drug possession) and its top – down authority structure which severely constrained as well as pressured police chiefs to adhere to the set plan set by upper management. As such, since the Springfield, Illinois police district utilizes COMPSTAT what will be examined in this section of the research paper are the positive and negative effects of utilizing such a system in police activity.
Advantages in Utilizing the COMPSTAT System
In implementing the use of COMPSTAT in various police districts, it is important to first take note of the positive appeals of such as system in terms of how it can benefit police work. First and foremost, Mastrofski et al. (2005) states that its use of crime mapping software not only enables faster response times by police districts, but also allows those higher up in the chain of command to identify the source of particular problems and recommend solutions based on the resources available within that district. Such a process actually becomes seamless to a certain extent given the way in which the “top-down” approach helps to relay orders and have them implemented almost immediately. Combined with individual accountability, this results in more district chiefs being accountable for the performance of their districts in terms of resolving the problems identified via COMPSTAT.
Not only that, combined with the flexibility in resource allocation that was mentioned earlier, this results in precinct resources being transferred from one aspect of crime prevention to another resulting in a far more expeditious means of addressing crime as it occurs (Willis, 2009). Do note though that another aspect of COMPSTAT involves weekly and monthly meetings wherein top management officials in various states come together and discuss the various types of criminal problems that occur in their individual districts and what solutions have been implemented to help resolve them. Hoover (2004) explains that this type of strategy sharing and reporting enables district chiefs to learn more about about new strategies in crime prevention and enables them to better understand what they can do to resolve certain issues. The last aspect of COMPSTAT involves its data collection system whch results in the following positive effects
- Police districts are able to evaluate growing trends in crime
- Expanding areas of criminal influence are identified
- Reported areas of criminal activity are plotted and examined.
The end result is the ability to share information and enable joint district action when needed in terms of identifying which areas have the most criminal activity and what type of resources should be allocated to deal with the problem.
Problems in the Compstat Process
So far, it has been shown that COMPSTAT does result in the following positive effects in police district:
- Plotting of reported areas of criminal activity (i.e. identifying criminal hotspots)
- Better organizational efficiency
- Sharing of information among districts
- Allocation of proper resources
- An overall more efficient method of handling crime
However, there are limitations in the COMPSTAT process that should be taken into consideration before passing judgment. Through the work of Moore (2003) it was revealed that most studies which “praise” the utilization of COMPSTAT did so utilizing the NYPD as the focal point of their research. While this study does not disparage the performance or capability of the NYPD in any way, the problem with this method study is that the NYPD has far more resources and manpower as compared to most other districts in other country. Not only that, studies such as those by Eterno & Silverman (2010) explain that most research into the processes used in COMPSTAT are based on a third part examination wherein anecdotes, rhetoric and praises are the norm instead of a more wide bodied form of research which examined multiple instances of its implementation across numerous police departments within the country.
What this means is that there is a significant disparity between what the research says about COMPSTAT and what may actually be occurring in the field at the present. Evidence against the effectiveness of COMPSTAT can be seen in the Willis et al. (2007) which examined the case of the city of Minneapolis. In this study, Willis et al. noted that police officers within the department felt ambivalent (i.e. lack sufficient enthusiasm) about the goals of crime reduction set by Compstat despite the best efforts of the local administration to encourage its use. It was revealed in the Hoover (2004) study that police officers found the following factors actually inhibited their ability to meet other important objectives in dealing with members of the local community:
- utilization of directed patrolling
- zero tolerance on policing
Hoover (2004) noted that police officers in general preferred their previous strategy of community policing since it enabled them to to pursue multiple objectives (i.e. investigations, follow ups, patrol, etc.) but it also allowed them to provide multiple services to various residents (i.e. protection, assistance, etc.). Going back to the Willis et al. study, it was noted that police officers within the various districts felt that COMPSTAT focuses more on purely combating crime rather than enabling officers to focus on the broader aspects of their duty of servicing their community via follow ups to domestic abuse cases, safety for school children, dispute settlement in certain cases as well as a plethora of other duties.
Internal Accountability in Compstat
Willis et al. (2007) in their examination of the COMPSTAT process showed that its implementation actually resulted in significant challenges for police districts that used to focus primarily on community based methods of policing. The reason behind this is connected to the disproportionate level of accountability which impacted middle managers more so than their counterparts in upper management or in the lower tiers of the police force. Hyunseok et al. (2010) explains that the reason behind this is connected to the lack of a mechanism for delegating accountability down the chain of command resulting in middle managers receiving most of the blame and criticism while only affecting beat cops on a minimum level. Willis et al. (2004) explains that this had negative repercussions for police districts that were used to community based methods of policing wherein due to the necessity of conforming to a top – down control approach where orders relayed from above were suppose to be expressly followed by those below (i.e. to prevent criticism) this resulted in less flexible system of dealing with community problems.
Mazerolle et al. (2007) explained that in the case of community based methods of policing, it was more of a decentralized method of decision making which enabled officers to exercise discretion in solving particular problems. With the current approach, such a practice has in effect been curtailed due to the higher rate of accountability of middle managers and their desire to avoid being criticized for not following orders. The end result is a system that actually prevents officers from effectively addressing problems that they see based on their own discretion in favor of the top-down approach which may or may not properly understand the various nuances of the problems seen in local communities which local street cops have a better understanding of.
The creates a significant disparity wherein improper methods of addressing particular issues may be implemented resulting in the possibility of the issue getting worse over time. Walsh & Vito (2004) explain that such a system may, over time, create a distinct amount of tension and contradiction between top management, district commanders and local police officers. Walsh & Vito explain that local police officers are more “in tune” so to speak with the problems of local communities since they are from there as compared to top management. As such, they are better equipped to determine what strategies would or would not work. However, with the top-down approach of the COMPSTAT system, street cops are no longer allowed to implement such a strategy which calls into question whether the rigid processes that come about from COMPSTAT would actually result in better policing or less effective processes being introduced under the guise of better policing.
Criticism of the Compstat System
Other criticisms of the COMPSTAT system such as those by Mark et al. (2003) explain that the enormous amount of pressure being placed on various districts commanders to show that they are actually making some headway it is actually possible that the data inputted by police officers may actually be erroneous or outright false. Gilsinan (2012) explains that one of the problems with the COMPSTAT system is that it lacks a sufficient method of external third part confirmation wherein all the data that goes into it that reflects improvements in local communities are based off the data given by police officers. If the officers in charge wished to reflect improving numbers based on the need to perform, it would be all to easy for this to be accomplished. However, as explained by Vito et al. (2005) this is not the true problem, rather, it is due to the concentration on performance and the top – down method of authority which creates undue pressure which is the true source of problems in the COMPSTAT system and needs to be re-evaluated due to the potential it has for creating problems in terms of accurate data collection.
Based on an examination of the data presented thus far, it becomes clear that while in the short term the Compstat system is effective in reducing crime through its performance based approach on crime the fact remains that it becomes clear that in several cases this comes at the expense of other public services. Not only that, with the sheer amount of pressure to perform that is evident in such a system, it practically encouraged unethical actions on the part of middle managers to falsify data.
When evaluating the impact of a police force within a particular area and judging effective performance, the best indicator would be to examine repetitive police action in preventing the same types of crimes. What must be understood is that effectiveness in police action entails preventing the same type of crime or civil misconduct from recurring
(Police effectiveness and democracy: shape and direction of the relationship, 2006). This is usually done through direct police intervention in the form of arrests, warnings, citations and various other forms of preventive measures. If such actions continue within given areas where the police have already tried intervention before this represents an ineffective performance on the part of the local police force since despite their intervention the crime/civil misconduct is still occurring (Meares, 2013). For example, in cases where the police are attempting to crack down on the sale of drugs within a particular inner city neighborhood the usual actions they would undertake is to increase the number of patrols, arrests and investigations into the local community. If after such attempts the rate of drug proliferation within the area continues to be rampant this represents a failure of performance on the part of the police (Sekharan Nair et al., 2013). While it may be true that there are numerous factors that should be taken into consideration when ensuring the long term prevention of certain crimes within a particular area, the fact is the local police force should take these factors into consideration and enact preventive measures in order to abate the spread of certain types of crimes within an area (Robinson, 1970).
Based on the statement of Sir Robert Peel it can be said that a truly effective police action would be one wherein it would not be repeated again within the near future due to the overall effectiveness of the action in preventing crime. It is based on this that when rating the performance of people within an agency it is best to examine the effectiveness of their performance from a standpoint of reduced repetitive crime rates which is indicative of an effective performance in preventing crime within certain areas (Hogan & Kurtines, 1975). What must be understood is that a great amount of arrests, citations and warnings is not indicative of effective performance if the same actions keep on happening within a particular area. The goal of a police force is to reduce crime to such an extent within certain districts that the need for aggressive tactics is no longer necessary. Performance initiatives based on arrests, citations and other forms of police action are only effective if they lead to actual crime reductions (Wattenberg & Bufe, 1963). If it is noted that crime rates remain the same despite repetitive police action this is indicative of a problem with the method of crime prevention being employed and thus indicates a problem with performance (Brewster et al., 2005).
Based on this, the best method of evaluating the performance of individual police officers within a particular station is to monitor the rates of crime within the patrol areas of individual officers and see whether repetitive types of crimes and misconduct are occurring. If they are, this is indicative of poor performance on the part of the officer but on the other hand if they are not this indicates a sufficiently high level of individual performance (Skogan, 1976). As for squad supervisors the same standard of repetitive crimes is also applicable but instead of being judged based on individual crimes rates in particular areas they are instead judged based on the overall repetitive crimes rates in the areas of all officers under their command (Brookshire, 2011). This particular strategy ensures that police action is focused on preventing crime from happening again rather than bringing in the most arrests or number of citations (Ratcliffe et al., 2011). As such when answering the question which is the “best” squad it is neither the one that brings in the most arrests consistently nor is it the one that is hardnosed, but rather it is the squad that is able to keep repetitive types of crime from occurring within their particular jurisdiction which is indicative of progressive and effective police performance (Ratcliffe et al., 2011).
In certain organizations such as the call center industry the quantity of received calls or assisted customers is sought after rather than the quality of the call itself. In such cases measures utilized to measure the quality of performance were through the use of metrics wherein call center agents needed to achieve a certain degree of performance efficiency and standard in order to meet the demands of the company. Metrics can be described as standards of performance relating to the efficiency, quality, and speed by which a person is able to accomplish a certain task (Miller & Davis, 2008). By meeting or exceeding the set metrics of a company, agents are able to meet or go beyond performance standards thus showing their level of performance to upper management (Rogge & Verschelde, 2013). It must be noted though that the use of this particular system is at times highly debatable since the overall quality of the call itself is sacrificed in order to meet set standards in efficiency, speed and number of calls taken.
In relation to this, the same can be said of methods of measurement utilizing the number of arrests or citations a police officer has. While it may be true that such units of measurement are indicative of performance they do not properly indicate the resulting effectiveness of the approach (Sargeant, Wickes & Mazerolle, 2013). For example, a police officer can achieve the required 15 arrests per month and 25 citations that his supervisor requires however if the neighborhood he patrols in still has the same types of repetitive crime this is indicative of an ineffective method of approach in dealing with crime reduction (Rai, 2012). The best measure of performance for any police officer is not in the number of arrests or citations but rather in the drop of repetitive crimes within his area of patrol. If crimes go down in a particular area as a direct result of his actions this is indicative of an appropriate level of performance since this lessens the need for constant patrols and thus personnel can be allocated to more troublesome areas (Jobson & Schneck, 1982). It is based on this that a good officer is not measured by the number of arrests or citations he gives but rather in his impact in the area he patrols and whether repetitive crime rates go up or down.
Attempting to rationalize aggressive patrolling as a method of increasing arrests in order to deter crime is the same as attempting to rationalize police brutality, in that it cannot be done and is often thought of as an abuse of authority on the part of the police. What must be understood is that all individuals have inherent civil liberties which the police are obligated to protect and uphold. While aggressive patrolling may increase arrests and deter crime the resulting intrusion into the private lives of citizens constitutes a violation of their inherent right to privacy and to be considered innocent until proven guilty (Verschelde & Rogge, 2012). The general purpose of a police force is to give people a sense of security and safety within a given area; by introducing aggressive police tactics wherein there are more intrusions into the private lives of citizens this results in people losing their sense of safety and security which defeats the purpose of having a police force in the first place (Nilson & Oliver, 2006).
Various studies are not in favor of its use within particular neighborhoods due to the possibility of local residents feeling like they are being harassed by the police, this has actually led to instances where members of the local community have in fact risen up and protested directly against police actions in their neighborhoods. Notable cases of police aggressiveness which have had detrimental effects on local communities were noted during the 1950s and 1960s within various American neighborhoods wherein police aggression against African Americans and members of the gay community helped to justify the Civil Rights movement during the mid 1960s (Santos, 2013). It is based on such instances that the police force within a particular area should understand the potential repercussions of their actions and act accordingly in order to ensure that they continue to possess public confidence and trust in their actions. On the other hand I cannot say that its use should be outright prohibited. There are certain cases such as various inner city neighborhoods and projects where an aggressive police presence is needed in order to curb the local crime rate. As such, determining whether aggressive patrols are to be used or not is actually up to the discretion of particular police districts wherein the use of aggressive police tactics should be commensurate with the level of crime within a given area.
Balancing Competing Interests
Balancing civil liberties and crime control can be done by taking into account the amount of crime within a given area and responding appropriately with a commensurate amount of force. What must be understood is that individual civil liberties are upheld only in instances where community/group stability is not compromised. In cases where particular neighborhoods are rife with crime with the possibility of it spilling over into other neighborhoods or negatively impacting the well being of the community, individual liberties can be justifiably subverted in the interest of ensuring social stability. This is often seen in various cases within several U.S. cities where rampant crime in various inner city neighborhoods is often acted upon through increased police aggressiveness with individual liberties often compromised in order to ensure the peace (Telep & Weisburd, 2012). It is based on the various facts presented that it can be seen that in balancing civil liberties and crime control what is needed is to determine the overall level of crime and see to what extent it impacts local communities. It is only through this method of cross examination that an appropriate strategy can be formed on a case by case basis as to the needed extent and aggressiveness of a police force within a particular area.
Potential Issues in Changing Police Department Operational Procedures
What is Psychological Resistance to Change?
Humans are creatures of habit in that they enjoy daily routines and standards of procedure that do not constantly change on a daily basis, it is only in instances that change is introduced that it is met with significant resistance due to the inherent desire to keep things as they were (Auster & Ruebottom, 2013). Such a case is often seen in various corporations wherein changes implemented by the company is often met with significant resistance due to the desire of employees to retain the operational procedures that they have grown accustomed to. What you have to understand is that when employees (in this case police officers) are exposed to a particular procedural element for daily operations over an extended period of time, they develop a certain sense of complacency in that they tend to prefer the current way of doing business (Mugny & Papastamou, 1980). Not only that, it is often the case that employees are often not informed as to why specific changes are occurring in the first place which results in them feeling threatened.
The end result is that employees tend to associate change within the company as having the potential for them to lose their jobs as a direct result of the changes being implemented. Employees in certain companies tended to oppose certain degrees of automation involving internal operational processes due to the perception that such changes would eliminate the need for their job. Even if such changes would make their jobs easier changes within the company still continued to be met with significant degrees of skepticism and fear. Such a situation could potentially occur in the case of Springfield, Illinois wherein police officers would outright reject any potential changes to their standard procedures (Seltzer, 1983). It should also be noted that psychological resistance to change occurs not only in employees but in managers as well. It is often the case that managers fear change due to the fact that they fear losing power over their employees. Managers perceive change as a negatively impacting their autonomy over their work place environments and the various factors that they have control over.
In fact, it is at times perceived as a direct attack on the managers themselves despite the fact that nothing could be farther from the truth. It should also be noted that managers resist such changes due to their perception that they may lose their jobs as a direct result (Bullock, 1986). What must be understood is that change often comes with the implementation of new practices that managers may or may not be able to sufficiently cope up with. As such, those who are under the belief that they would be unable to adapt to the new changes are the most resistant to them being implemented since it would be likely that they would be replaced by another person that has the necessary capacity to implement the changes as need be. It should also be noted that managers often suffer from the same perception regarding complacency and, as a result, are often skeptical when changes are implemented within the company (Peus et al., 2008). They often view such changes as completely unnecessary with the potential of negatively impact the status quo within the office.
Manifestation of Resistance to Change
One the most common manifestations of the resistance of employees to change comes in the form of passive resistance. This particular aspect of employee resistance takes the form of general negative opinions and feelings regarding the changes being implemented within the company. One of the most noticeable impacts of this particular resistance to change manifests itself through employee performance in the workplace. It is often the case that individuals who are resistant to change within certain organizations often develop a distinct aversion towards working in such an environment which impacts their productivity at work. Based on the study of Robert et al., (1999), it was determined that employee motivation played an important role in work performance due to its correlation in creating employees that are more motivated to work, more interested in their job and, as a result, stayed longer with their respective companies. Motivation, as stated by Robert et al., (1999) is a crucial aspect of operations management since no matter how well a company develops its employees through a plethora of training programs and seminars, if said employees find little willingness to actually apply what they were taught in a productive and enthusiastic manner then the training itself would have been a useless venture (Robert et al., 1999).
What you have to understand is that resistance to change results in a distinct level of de-motivation which impacts the willingness of an employee to actually perform their job. As a result, companies that implement new changes within their operational structure often encounter initial significant dips in performance levels due to the way in which employees react negatively to the new method of operation (Pate et al., 2000). It should also be noted that passive resistance also manifests itself in other forms such as various forms of disrespect, withholding of information and various forms of neglectful behavior that are meant to passively indicate displeasure at the current way in which operational methods at the company have been changed. Instances of passive resistance often occur due to changes in management styles, scheduling, minor procedural changes and other small changes within the company. One of the most recent examples of this particular type of change within corporations can be seen in the case of Wal-Mart and its use of selective scheduling for its part time employees.
As a direct result of such a change the company experienced significant reductions in employee performance due to the considerable degrees of inconvenience employees suffered as a direct of an erratic schedule that impacted their daily lives (Hall, Rosenthal & Wade, 1993). It should be noted though that this particular internal change was done in order to save the company money and maximize employee outputs, however, it was not viewed as such by employees and, as a direct result, they lost sufficient motivation to work at a proficient level resulting in falling standards of operational performance. Studies such as those Diamond (1984) indicate that passive resistance to change is the most prevalent practice seen within organizations at the present and is often caused by insufficient transitions to new management or operational practices. When it comes to changes within workplace environments it is recommended that change occurs in stages consisting of steady transitions. By utilizing such a method this maximizes the ability of employees to get used to the changes and minimizes the potential for negative reactions.
Active Resistance to Change
Another manifestation of employee resistance to change comes in the form of active resistance, in this particular instance instead of impacting employee performance this resistance actually impacts the entirety of the company’s performance since it often comes in the form of strikes or increased levels of employee absenteeism. Active resistance often comes as a direct result of operational initiatives that impact employee benefits (i.e. health insurance, retirement benefits, etc,) or even aspects that even control the work environment experienced by employees on a daily basis. This was seen in a variety of strikes experienced by the airline industry within the U.S., the U.K. and the Philippines between 2004 to 2011 wherein due to management initiatives to lower costs and maximize employee output airline pilots and stewardesses were reduced within certain airlines while the remainder were made to work longer shifts at reduced pay. The direct result of this particular change was strikes that lasted several days that subsequently grounded flights in the U.S., Europe and Asia. What you have to understand is that not all instances of change within organizations can be considered positive.
There are many instances such as the previous example that result in considerable levels of employee resentment over the changes that are implemented especially in instances that negatively impact employees. It should be noted that such employee resistance to change in such instances is often due to the insufficient means by which the managers of a company place the changes within the necessary context. It is often the case that changes are implemented not only without the input of the employees that it impacts but it is often that properly explained as to why such changes are being implemented in the first place. As a direct result, employees resist significant changes since they do not have sufficient enough context to understand all the variables that went into the change being implemented. Various studies have indicated that while change that negatively impacts employees is at times necessary in order to save the company (ex: Airline Industry, General Motors employee reduction etc.), managers need to be able to phrase such changes within the appropriate context for employees to understand why these particular changes are being implemented in the first place. Without such contexts in place employees become that much more resistant to change as evidenced by the example shown earlier.
The last employee manifestation of resistance to change comes in the form of aggressive resistance. In such instances employees exhibit distinct behavioral actions that actively attempt to block the changes from taking place through a variety of methods such as sabotage or internal subversion (Cable et al., 1999). Forms of active resistance can often be seen in cases where department heads often disagree over the changes in management being implemented within an office and take steps in order to ensure that the changes are considered detrimental and, as a result, are removed in favor of the previous practices that were utilized. Examples of this come in the form of intentional delays in operation, intentional miscommunication between departments as well as an assortment of self-sabotaging actions aimed at ensuring that whatever change is implemented within a company is viewed in a bad light.
Given the negative impact of aggressive resistance on company performance, this particular resistance to change is often considered the most destructive and is actively banned within most companies. Interestingly enough, this particular method of resistance is often that manifested by lower level employees but is actually enacted by management or upper level employees within companies. It is thought that the reason this particular demographic of employees are the most likely to institute methods of aggressive resistance is due to the fact that they are the ones that are the most invested into the previous method of performance and would like to maintain the “status quo” so to speak.
Understanding Employee Resistance to Change
One of the more interesting aspects of Tolman’s theory are his ideas regarding reinforcement expectancy and cognitive dissonance. It was noted by Tolman that when expectations were not met for a particular experiment (i.e. an individual being given only $1 for a successfully completed experiment as compared to the $5 they were originally given) performance significantly declines. For Tolman such a response is actually quite similar to cognitive dissonance since the discrepancy between an expected outcome (i.e. receiving a $5) and the result (i.e. receiving $1) results in a negative drive state which people would normally seek to avoid or reduce. Such a concept is quite valuable in understanding employee psychological resistance to change since managing expectations regarding certain lessons or methods of accomplishing a particular task greatly influences the drive and motivation employees have towards performing a particular task which affects their overall level of performance.
For example, in instances where a manager places unfounded expectations on employees when new changes are implemented within the company such as promising that the new work setup would be easy or that anyone with marginal intelligence would be able to understand it yet presents employees with an overly complicated method of working that is difficult at best and impossible at. This creates a situation where there is a certain “negative dissonance” regarding the change that this particular manager implemented thus creating a certain degree of hesitance, even fear when starting on a new method of work since the promised result was not as expected. This would be similar to the case of a college course promising a very enlightening and in-depth view of a topic that a student truly enjoys yet gives him/her a subpar lesson that is generalized and has little intellectual value. This also creates a certain degree of cognitive dissonance resulting in negative behavior towards not only the course but the college itself which will most likely result in poor performance. In the case of employees this often results in a distinct resistance to change within their workplace environment.
One way of rectifying this situation is to help ease employees into an understanding of what they are getting into. Rather than presenting employees with a reward (i.e. a salary bonuses and benefits) managers should inform them truthfully of what a particular change in their workplace environment entails and give them a brief overview of its positive and negative elements. The point is not to create any set expectations but rather to ease employees into making their own choices and decisions. Human choice is actually a contributing factor towards performance since in instances where people were given a choice of actions, no matter how negative the outcome, performance levels did not decrease as much as compared to instances where people were either not given a choice or were given a false set of assumptions.
It is based on this that in order to maintain a certain degree of employee performance for new work related operational changes it is important to adjust expectation levels early on so as to ensure that employees are fully presented with a choice and know what they are getting into so as to ensure steady performance levels instead of subsequent drops. When it comes to human motivation Tolman presents the notion that the concept of “motive” drives a person’s behavior and until this internal state is either “fixed” or rectified that person will continue to behave in that particular manner. The implications of this on employee resistance to change is considerable since it presents the notion that resistance will continue to exist to new workplace operational changes even after a long period of time has passed. As a result, this could significantly impact the ability of a company to continue to operate properly given the correlation between operational performance and employee resistance to the changes implemented.
Current Issue of the Recurrence of Crime in the U.S.
The work of Angela Davis in her book, “Are Prisons Obsolete?”, introduces readers to the current state of the U.S. system of imprisonment and rehabilitation. She reveals the correlation between corporate interests, racial profiling, current laws and how such factors have contributed to the growing population of inmates within U.S. penitentiaries. Her book reveals how rehabilitation practices within prisons at the present are far from promoting a system that helps to transition inmates into normal civilian life. Instead, what occurs is a removal of civil liberties, the promotion of negative forms of behavior and finally the implementation of prolonged periods of incarceration so that private corporations can make more money and profit off of the inmates at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. This was noted in the following statement made by Davis (2003):
“In arrangements reminiscent of the convict lease system, federal, state, and county governments pay private companies a fee for each inmate, which means that private companies have a stake in retaining prisoners as long as possible, and in keeping their facilities filled”. As such, this paper presents the notion that the current system of rehabilitation within prisons is inherently flawed and needs to be changed in order to resolve the relatively high rates of re-incarceration within the U.S. Based on this, the assumption of this paper is that by implementing a system that focuses on encouraging better social integration rather than punishment this should help resolve the prison problems within the U.S.
Based on the work of Gunter et al. (2013) it can be seen that the current state of the U.S. prison system in no way rehabilitates prisoners. In fact Gunter et al. (2013) states that prisons actually promote violent behavior resulting in a greater likelihood for those who enter into it to get even worse over time. Gunter explains this by stating the following
“…what do you expect would happen if you throw inmates into what is essentially a melting pot of violence and crime with no opportunity for improving their lives once they get out of prison, the obvious outcome would be a smarter and more violent criminal rather than a reformed prisoner that can be integrated into society” . Ousey & Kubrin (2009) attempts to explain the inherent failure of society to realize the current problems faced by the prison system by saying that: “this is the ideological work that the prison performs – it relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism and, increasingly, global capitalism”. It is based on the views of Kobler (1963) that it becomes painfully obvious that some means of change must be implemented in order to resolve the current problem surrounding the current prison system. Templer & Rushton (2011) in his examination of the present day rates of incarceration within the U.S. shows that with the current system of rehabilitation in place, the possibility of re-incarceration is high with the likelihood of a former inmate making his/her way back into the prison system currently being set at 40 to 50 percent. Rotolo & Tittle (2006) even goes on to state that such a rate increases considerably to 60 to 70 percent when factoring in that individual’s race, level of education and the absence of any professional skills that could be utilized instead of being stuck in a life of crime.
Rehabilitation instead of Incarceration
One way in which the problems presented by McCarthy (2010) can be resolved is to implement methods or rehabilitation instead of incarceration. This comes in the form of processes and various stages of personality development wherein inmates are modified in such a way that they can easily integrate and adapt themselves back into society. One country in which such a process has proven to be quite effective is the Netherlands wherein their prison system implements a series of steps for modifying behavior and ensuring that prisoners can have a stable and fulfilling life outside of prison. What you have to understand is that based on the studies of Kasravi (2013) prison life within the U.S. does not prepare prisoners for life outside of prison. It is often the case that prison reinforces and even encourages adverse behavior resulting in an inability to live a normal life and a greater propensity to return to a life of crime (Griswold, 2009). The Netherlands resolves this issue by providing prisoners with daily psychological sessions, open prison environments, a relaxing atmosphere and they even provide them with the opportunity to obtain a college degree while in prison. all at the expense of the state.
Not only that, prisoners within such environments are treated as if they were normal individuals as compared to the case in most U.S. prisons where they are treated with a certain degree of disdain (Bell, 2011). By reinforcing positive behaviors and providing a means by which they can integrate themselves into society, the Netherlands has in effect created a system which has considerably minimized the rate of repeat offenders. This has manifested itself in the fact that the Netherlands has one of lowest crime rates in the world with a near nonexistent murder rate. Other countries have similarly tried to adopt such a style of allowing inmates to develop positive behaviors and skills in order to help them transition into society once they get out of jail. The Philippines for instance is home to “New Belibid Prison” which is one of the largest jails in South East Asia. Its size is somewhat misleading though due to the fact that prison officials allow prisoners to construct mini-homes, businesses and even training facilities within the prison. This has enabled the prison population to not only develop itself as a community but it has also helped its inmates in internalizing important job and social skills which would greatly assist them once they are released (Cook & Winfield, 2013). Combined with the prison’s training program which teaches prisoners an assortment of trades and skills this has resulted in a far lower rate of re-incarceration as compared to their U.S. counterparts.
Based on the presented data it can be seen that by implementing a system that focuses on encouraging better social integration rather than punishment this should help resolve the prison problems within the U.S. as evidenced by the case of the Netherlands and the Philippines. This data helps to potentially show why there are a significant amount of repeat offenders in the case of Springfield, Illinois. What you have to understand is that the current prison system within the U.S. does not rehabilitate at all and in fact promotes greater instances of criminal behavior. By implementing a system of rehabilitation instead of punishment and incarceration this should greatly reduce repeat offenders within the U.S. prison system.
Introduction to Methodology
This section aims to provide information on how the study will be conducted and the rationale behind employing the discussed methodologies and techniques towards augmenting the study’s validity. In addition to describing the research design, the theoretical framework, and the population and sample size that will be used in this study, this section will also elaborate on instrumentation and data collection techniques, validity and reliability, data analysis, and pertinent ethical issues that may emerge in the course of undertaking this study.
There are several objectives to this study:
- The first is the necessity to analyze the relations between the adoption of particular practices to combat crime and its resulting impact on crime deterrence within Springfield, Illinois
- The second is the need to determine the extent to which current procedures in combating crime through Compstat impact crime (i.e. reduce or increase crime)
- Lastly, this study will also need to discuss the implications of such policies on crime prevention in general.
- Overall, this study can have significant implications for policy-makers since its findings can tell whether the policies are effective and how they can be improved.
This section elaborates on the use of attribution theory and grounded theory as the primary methods of examination utilized by the researcher in order to check the information gathered during the interviews. These theories were chosen due to their ability to examine the opinions of the interviewees in order to properly interpret the data and create viable solutions and recommendations. For example, through attribution theory the research will be able to correlate the views of police officers with their current experiences in crime prevention in order to properly determine whether the current methods used by their respective precincts are effective in terms of creating effective crime prevention tactics. By following grounded theory during the data analysis stage of the study, the research will be able to determine the current effectiveness of the Compstat process, whether significant problems exist, what local precincts in Springfield, Illinois are doing to address such issues and, if possible, develop alternatives to current methods have been considered.
It is expected that by following the two theoretical frameworks during the examination process of the paper, the researcher will be able to succinctly address the research objectives of the study. The main difference between the two theories is that attribution theory concerns itself with the assumptions people have towards a particular product or process while grounded theory focuses more on developing succinct assumptions based on the data that has been presented. As such, by combining both methods this enables a researcher to examine the opinions of a test subject under a particular investigative framework while at the same time utilizing another framework to determine the inherent problems within a given scenario and the appropriate method of addressing them. It is based on this that these two theories become an ideal method for the research topic. The main benefit of utilizing both theories in the examination of the research topic is that they enable a better examination of the responses of the interviewees as well as the data from the literature review as compared to merely doing an examination of both aspects utilizing a single theory.
Attribution theory centers around the derived assumption of a particular individual/group of people regarding a particular process, product or service based on their experience with it. It is often used as means of investigating consumer opinions regarding a particular product and to determine the level of satisfaction derived from its use. By utilizing this particular theory as the framework for this study, the researcher will be able to correlate the opinions of the interviewees regarding their assumptions over what practices currently utilized by individual police precincts lead to proper crime prevention processes. This particular theoretical framework helps to address the research objective of determining current best practices used in police districts by creating the framework that will be utilized within the questionnaire and examination.
Utilizing attribution theory, the research will design the research questions in such a way that they delve into the opinions of the police and local residents in order to better understand what factors influence their views on crime prevention. The needed information will be extracted through a carefully designed set of questions whose aim is to determine how a particular person’s experience with crime/crime prevention affects the way they interpret the actions of the police and whether, in their opinion, significant improvements need to be implemented or not. However, it should be noted that while attribution theory is an excellent means of examining the opinions of interviewees, it is an inadequate framework when it comes to determining the origin of problems in certain cases. Grounded theory, with its emphasis on utilizing a specific framework to guide a researcher during the examination process can be considered an adequate method of performing the more “in-depth” aspects of the research.
The advantage of utilizing ground theory over other theoretical concepts is that it does not start with an immediate assumption regarding a particular case. Instead, it focuses on the development of an assumption while the research is ongoing through the use of the following framework for examination:
- What is going on?
- What is the main problem within the company for those involved?
- What is currently being done to resolve this issue?
- Are there possible alternatives to the current solution?
This particular technique is especially useful in instances where researchers need to follow a specific framework for examining a problem (as seen in the framework above) and, as such, is useful in helping to conceptualize the data in such a way that logical conclusions can be developed from the research data.
By utilizing the framework of grounded theory to perform an examination of the interviewee responses and the data from the literature review, the researcher will be able to adequately examine the processes utilized within the police districts that will be examined related to encouraging crime reduction and whether such processes are effective based on the data collected. It is assumed by the researcher that there can be an effective correlation between the current problems of police districts in Springfield, Illinois in their crime reduction processes and the use of their Compstat framework of operations. What you have to understand is that in qualitative research the concepts or themes are derived from the data. Grounded theory provides systematic, yet flexible guidelines to collect and analyze data. That data then forms the foundation of the theory while the analysis of the data provides the concepts resulting in an effective examination and presentation of the results of the study.
Role of the Researcher
The role of researcher in this particular study is primarily that of a recruiter and aggregator of data. This takes the form of the researcher being the primary point of contact when it comes to talking with various local citizens, companies, government agencies etc. in order to obtain the necessary amount of subject data from the various individuals within the areas where recruitment and direct face to face interviews will occur. Though it can be expected that there will be some problems involving the language barriers and subsequent translation of what the research subject meant when describing particular events and situations (i.e. when it comes to talking to individuals who have Latino or Hispanic backgrounds), it is expected that through communication and collaboration with the local citizenry and citizen groups that some relevant means of effective data recording can be accomplished
. It must also be noted that prior to the start of the data collection process via interviews the researcher will also need to play the role of a “teacher” so to speak in order to properly coach the person being interviewed regarding the purpose of the study and the various terminologies that will be utilized. This particular aspect of the data collection process is absolutely necessary due to the potential that the collected data may not properly conform to the appropriate levels expected of a doctorate level thesis. As such, by ensuring that the research subjects are properly informed, this reduces the instances where problems may arise related to collected data that has very little relevant information that can be utilized within the study.
The present study will utilize a primarily qualitative research design to explore the impact of police activity and crime prevention strategies in addressing the issue of crime in Springfield, Illinois. This methodological approach will objectively answer the key research questions. Sekaran (2006) observed most qualitative studies are either descriptive or experimental. The study will utilize a descriptive correlational approach because participants will be measured once. Furthermore, it is imperative to note that the study will employ a questionnaire technique for the purpose of collecting participant data from the aforementioned areas indicated in the previous paragraph. According to Sekaran, a questionnaire technique is used when the researcher is principally interested in descriptive, explanatory or exploratory appraisal, as is the case in this study.
The justification for choosing a questionnaire approach for this particular study is grounded on the fact that participants will have the ability to respond to the data collection tool by way of self-report, thus, this project will utilize a self-administered questionnaire schedule for purposes of data collection. An analysis of related literature will be used to compare the study findings with other research on the impact of crime prevention strategies and Compta on the level of crime within particular cities. Such analysis, according to Sekaran (2006), is important in identifying the actual constructs that determine efficient analysis because “it goes beyond mere description of variables in a situation to an understanding of the relationships among factors of interest” (p. 119).
As mentioned earlier, aside from academic data, this study will utilize a set of questionnaires in order to examine the perspective of residents of Springfield, Illinois regarding the impact of the crime prevention strategies on the police on their daily lives. This can consist of a variety of ways ranging from the overall effectiveness of the police force in detecting and resolving criminal cases to their response time and their rapport with members of the local community. It is based on this that the research questionnaire will be geared towards members of urban populations and will focus on issues that primarily impact people who live within the various districts in an around Springfield, Illinois. While the researcher acknowledges the fact that rural populations are also similarly impacted by the crime prevention strategies of the police, the fact remains that considering the sheer size of Illinois and the inherent difficulty and danger in contacting people found in various rural locations, it was decided that for the sake of safety and expediency that the researcher should focus primarily on urban population sets.
Another factor that should be taken into consideration is the necessity to choose people who are more aware of crime and crime prevention and who take a more active part in this process. This can consist of members of the local police force who will be a part of this study as well as leaders of the local community. Cluster sampling will be particularly helpful for the purpose of this study. This approach will enable the researcher to find the respondents quickly and above all safely.
The data gathering procedure for the interview will be held over a 3 week period spanning the various districts and police precincts in and around Springfield, Illinois In each district the researcher will spend approximately 3 to 4 days in order to gather the necessary research data. For the first day the researcher will orient the necessary police chief within the district regarding the purpose of the study and the process of data collection while the next two to three days will be spent arriving at the various organizations that were contacted beforehand in order to begin the data gather process. The process will be divided into two distinct types of interviews with one focusing on gaining the perspective of the police referring to how their activities impact crime while the second type of interview will focus on the societal aspect of the activities of the police and how it affected people on an individual basis (i.e. the perception of the local community in regards to police activity.. This takes the form of inquiries regarding the ease of talking to the police, whether people have found such strategies have been effective, whether they have been positively or negatively affected etc.
The research subjects for this particular study will consist of individuals recruited from various police precincts, academic institutions, and financial business districts. The individuals who will be utilized in the study must fulfill the following requirements in order to be considered viable enough to be included:
- Must have a high degree of literacy in order to understand the concepts that the questionnaire and interview entail.
- Must have a general awareness regarding the regarding the concept of crime and crime prevention.
- Should be an urban resident of the Springfield, Illinois
- Should fulfill either one of the following requirements: an academic, a local law enforcement officer, an active job seeker or an employee of a company.
- The research subjects should also fall under the age demographic of 23 to 55 years of age in order to ensure that they have developed sufficient awareness and experience regarding the impact of crime and crime prevention in their daily lives.
- Lastly, the research subjects that are included in this examination should not be migrant workers. This ensures that all responses are based entirely off of local residents which ensures that the responses given are only applicable to the case being examined.
While it may be true that the level of research subject discrimination implemented by the researcher is indicative of a certain degree of undue manipulation of the study results, what must be understood is that due to the low level literacy and a system of education that is far from ideal, this has, as a result, created a population set that has very little knowledge or even awareness regarding regional integration, economic initiatives and a variety of similar topics which would be relevant to the study. Since it is the intention of the researcher to analyze the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration it would of course be necessary for the research subjects involved to actually have a certain degree of knowledge regarding this so as to produce a relevant contribution to the research material. Thus, the level of research subject discrimination is justified in this particular case.
While the recruitment method and type of participants that will be utilized has already been explained, this section will detail the population set from which they will be obtained from. On average the population of Springfield, Illinois that are to be a part of this study can be considered as being sufficiently well educated and have access monetary resources (i.e. the White population). On the other hand, other participants of this study will consist of the minorities who have little in the way of sufficient monetary resources and are not quite as educated as compared to their White majority counterparts. This is in part due to the minimal “trickle-down effect” wherein a large percentage (60 to 70 percent) of the region’s wealth is isolated to select few groups within their respective societies. Not only that, public utilities expenditures as well as budget allocations for educational programs are quite low. These combined factors result in the creation of a minority population set that is more likely to commit crime due to a lack of opportunities.
What this means for the research process is that it entails a more selective recruitment of individuals that are more in tune with the various aspects related to the concept of crime and crime prevention. What must be understood is that various studies which have examined the population of Springfield, Illinois have shown that there is still a considerable level of racial tension and animosity in the region. This in effect justifies the criteria the outlined by the researcher regarding research subject selection since it is imperative that the responses must come from individuals that are directly involved and experience the effects of crime and crime prevention.
This methodology exposes the participants to an assortment of risks that need to be taken into consideration during the research process. The main risk the participants will encounter is if any of their answers that criticize or indicate dissatisfaction with police activity leaks. This may have consequences on the attitude and opinion of government institutions and officials towards them and can result in victimization. To eliminate this risk, the responses will be kept in an anonymous location. This way, the only way to access the information will be through a procedure that involves the researcher. The project thus observes research ethics in sampling as well as during data collection process.
Deciding on the Questions to be used in the Interviews
The questions for the interviews were based on an evaluation of the research questions and the data and arguments presented in the literature review section. The aim of the researcher was to develop the questions in such a way that they build up on the material utilized in the literature review. Thus, the questions place a heavy emphasis on confirming the data in the literature review; revealing the current state of crime preventions, Compstat and other contributing factors.
As explained earlier, the methodology that will be utilized within this particular study will be comprised of an evaluation of questionnaire results given to a variety of entrepreneurs, local merchants, job seekers, police officials etc. within Springfield, Illinois in order to determine the various nuances they experience on a daily basis when it comes to crime and crime prevention.
The questions were created based on an assessment of the research question, the data that the researcher would need and how pertinent they would be in terms of the participants actually being able to answer them. Also, the research questions will be divided into different sets based on the type of respondent that the researcher was able to get in contact with.
Data Collection Process
Anderson (2004) notes that research that is performed in a rigorous manner can lead to more effective practices than decisions based mainly on intuition, personal preferences, or common sense. It is based on this that the researcher will utilize the views garnered through the interviews that will be conducted along with crime statistic data in order to develop a sufficient platform from which effective and above all accurate conclusions can be developed. The data collection process will actually be quite straightforward; several weeks prior to leaving for the Springfield, Illinois the researcher will utilize the internet in order to find businesses, schools, government institutions and a variety of other appropriate establishments that appear to be effective locations where the appropriate type of data can be located. Enlisting the services of a language school (or Google Translate if a language school does not have the appropriate type of services) the researcher will compose an introduction letter in both English and the local language of the selected organizations (i.e. in Spanish due to the Hispanic/Latino population) in order to inform the organization of the intent of the researcher and whether it would be possible to conduct a series of interviews based on the attached questionnaire in order to examine the research topic.
By asking permission prior to the data collection procedure, this ensures that the researcher will not waste time in having to contact the necessary organizations upon arriving and can immediately proceed in collecting the needed data. Prior to arriving the researcher will also conduct a search for a local translator to help in the overall process of communicating with the research subjects that do not speak English. The interviews will be conducted individually to ensure its alignment with the aforementioned anonymity of the study results. It will also be necessary to assure the participants of the safe storage of information before the interview begins to encourage them to give genuine answers. It was determined by the researcher that responses will be more favorable if the interview is conducted privately. This approach will mitigate accommodation costs thus making the project more cost effective. After collecting and analyzing data, the final report, together with recommendations will be presented to the study participants via email in order to show the impact of their opinions and ensure that responses were utilized in such a way that it complies with views that the participants intended to give out and are completely anonymous thus preventing any possible victimization from occurring.
Alternative Procedure based on Potential Data Gathering Problems
In the event that the researcher will be unable to venture into specific districts due to a variety of potential problems (i.e. internal conflict within the country, availability of the necessary funding, travel restrictions etc.) this alternative data gathering procedure should enable the researcher to continue to gather the necessary data despite the potential problems that may arise. The procedure will include one interview with each individual. Collecting qualitative data by interviews from participants who are geographically spread out can present a challenge to the researcher (Sedgwick & Spiers, 2009).
Since the researcher will contact a variety of businesses and police precincts beforehand, it is possible to arrange an interview via alternative means. Communication technology such as videoconferencing can provide a solution. Zaltzman and Leichliter (2012) discussed the concept of new qualitative research. As communication channels evolve with new technology, researchers experiment with new qualitative options. Video conferencing will fall into the real-time or live option with a one-on-one interview between the researcher and the participant. However, the researcher must be aware of the pros and cons of using these technologically new methods. Challenges of video teleconferencing include the fact that the participant may not be comfortable appearing on a live video confidentiality issues, trust of the researcher, possible accessibility issues, and security of the technology (Matthews & Cramer, 2008).
The strength of video sessions includes increasing the researchers’ ability to access hard-to-reach populations and a greater comfort level for the participant interacting in their own space (Zaltzman & Leichliter, 2012). There is also a benefit to the researcher in terms of decreased cost (Sedgwick & Spiers, 2009). Conducting the interview by video teleconference will decrease the cost of data collection, while at the same time provide the interviewee with the opportunity to participate in the comfort of his or her own office. In relation to the research participants, this method may provide a comfortable and relaxed environment that may give them a feeling of control and possibly encourage a free expression of knowledge and attitude regarding the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration. If any research subject is uncomfortable with this method, other data collection accommodations will be made, such as travelling to meet with that individual personally. With the permission of the participants, the interviews will be digitally recorded.
Evaluating the Questionnaire Responses
Two methods may be used to score the test, raw score and relative. Both will be used for comparison in the study. The raw score method is a simple sum of the responses within each scale. This involves merely examining which responses seem similar to each other or which are widely divergent. The relative scoring method compares scales for relative contribution to the overall score. The relative proportion for each scale is found by dividing the individual mean score for the scale by the combined means for all scales. What must be understood is that unlike other types of questionnaires administered through similar studies, this questionnaire does not utilize a score or point system wherein responses are limited to a set amount (i.e. picking from a set of 4,5,6 etc.). The reason behind this is quite simple; the researcher is attempting to gauge the individual accounts of the research subjects in the form of data which involves their own personal accounts and experiences regarding crime prevention.
As such, the resulting answer cannot be quantified in the same way as other forms of information. Do note though that the researcher did take into consideration the use of a generalized research questionnaire form, however, based on the necessity of personal responses it was deemed an insufficient method that would divulge the type of data needed given the necessity of examining individual experiences at the local level.
Thematic analysis will also be used to identfy themes. Patton (2002) describes this type of analysis as inductive analysis and states that most qualitative analysis is inductive in the early phases, when the researcher is trying to identify categories, patterns, and themes. As such, it is expected that by utilizing the process of reading and re-reading the data, emerging themes within the collected data sets can be identified. Fereday and Muir-Cochrane (2006) point out that thematic analysis can help the researcher to demonstrate rigor. Having other individuals review the transcripts will enable different individuals to form themes from the data (Golafshani, 2003). The researcher will then review these main themes and use this information to assist in establishing the key findings of the study.
This method of data analysis is appropriate for a qualitative design studies. Patton (2002) discusses several competencies involved in thematic analysis. One such competency is pattern recognition, the ability to see patterns in a wide array of information. Content analysis involves searching the data for common words or themes. Both of these competencies will be used by this researcher to identify common themes. With such an analysis, the findings will be obtained in an unbiased manner.
Reliability and Validity
Shank (2006) explains that the researcher must present the findings of qualitative research in written form. The identified themes will be presented along with implications. Because the researcher will be using the interview process to obtain the information, the data reporting will include narratives of responses expressed by the individuals on their attitude about the impact of police activity on crime within the general area. The method of storytelling may also be used as an effective way to present a scenario offered by one or more of the interviewees.
Handley (2005) noted reliability in any research process implies that the same set of data would have been collected each time in repeat examinations of the same variable or phenomenon, otherwise referred to as consistency of measurement. To realize reliability of the study findings, the researcher will certify that items incorporated in the survey schedule will only capture data that are of interest to the broader objectives of the study. The range of measurement of the sets of the questionnaire schedules will also be adjusted upwards to enhance internal consistency of the study findings. In addition, the researcher will utilize multiple indicators to ensure the collection of objective unabridged data.
Handley (2005) determined validity is a measurement that is used to describe a measure or instrument that correctly reflects the variable or phenomena it is intended to evaluate, thus reinforcing the conclusions, assumptions, and propositions made from the analysis of data. Internal validity, which denotes the soundness of a study or investigation, will be achieved through the establishment of a framework for the application of effective sampling techniques and employing a validated and reliable survey schedule for the propose of data collection. The same procedures in combination with the recruitment of a representative sample size will be used to achieve external validity, thus ensuring that the study findings can be generalized to other settings.
For this reason, the involvement of other professional colleagues to review the data, will contribute to the validity of the study. The researcher will determine the validity and integrity of the study which, according to Golafshani (2003), the appropriate attributes of trustworthiness, rigor, and quality. Trustworthiness is the degree to which the reader can trust the findings (Shank, 2006). Shank points out trust is not really established, but rather built and nurtured. This researcher will first try to cultivate trust in the study participants by conveying to them the research goal is simply to determine how they feel about the strategies utilized by the police and their views on it as well as its impact on their daily life. The researcher will emphasize to the participants, verbally and in the informed consent form, that there are no ulterior or personal motives with this research project. The researcher will present the findings in a way that the reader knows the study was conducted in a manner that produced trustworthy results.
The rigor of the study must be evident when the researcher presents the findings. A rigorous study is one that is designed, conducted, and analyzed properly (Shank, 2006). The researcher will demonstrate the study’s rigorous design by reporting in the method section that the study was developed with the expert guidance of University faculty, reviewed and approved by the IRB, and that the study was conducted by closely following that approved design. According to Fereday and Muir-Cochrane (2006), rigor may be demonstrated through the process of thematic analysis. A comprehensive process of data coding and identification of themes must be used. This researcher will select an appropriate template approach from the literature to assist with data analysis.
The quality of the study must be high in order to obtain true and valid data. Validity of qualitative research may be described as the use of quality concepts (Golafshani, 2003). The goal of the researcher will be to portray the high quality of this research study to the participants and the readers. Through such methods of analysis, the researcher will demonstrate that the conclusions were obtained through unbiased methods. Constructivism enables the researcher to appreciate the fact that people have multiple realities in their mind (Golafshani (2003). The individuals who will be study participants will have multiple realities that will contribute to their attitude about the effectiveness of police activity. Golafshani states that the open-ended perspective of constructivism is consistent with engaging in multiple methods such as observation, interviews and recording. Implementing these methods into the study design will contribute to its validity. By conducting the interviews in person or via video teleconference should the need arise, the researcher can observe the reactions of the individual to the questions, conduct the interview process, and verbally record the responses. Transcription of the recorded interviews by an independent person will provide objectivity to what was said by the interviewee. A combined data review that includes the researcher and other professionals will show that the data were reviewed in an unbiased manner.
The researcher has a responsibility to present the data in such a way that the reader can make an informed judgment about the issue (Schram, 2006). Patton (2002) describes the concept of extrapolation in which the researcher speculates on how likely the findings would occur under other similar conditions. It is the goal of the researcher to identify themes about the attitudes of local residents of Springfield, Illinois on the topic of crime prevention that may extrapolate to others; officials in the government for instance, who will be responsible for implementation of local and regional policies.
Possible ethical considerations that may arise through this study consist of the following:
- The potential for unintentional plagiarism through verbatim lifting of information, arguments and points of view from researched source material.
- The use of unsubstantiated information taken from unverifiable or nonacademic resources (ex: internet articles).
- The use of a biased viewpoint on issues which may inadvertently result in an alteration of the questionnaire results.
- Presentation of data without sufficient corroborating evidence or a lack of citation.
- Falsifying the results of the research for the benefit of the initial assumptions of the study.
- Using views and ideas without giving due credit to the original source.
According to Saunders et al. (2000), “Ethics refers to the appropriateness of your behavior in relation to the rights of those who become the subject of your work, or are affected by it” (p. 130). In addition to seeking approval from the doctoral thesis board, a letter of consent will be sent to the head of the program to request individual indulgence and approval in conducting the study. Mailings will be sent to the individual police precincts, agencies, businesses etc. explaining the main objective of the study and requesting their consent for participation. Further communication will proceed between those who agree to take part in the survey and the researcher via email to ensure that all individuals understand the requirements for the study. The researcher will also take time to elaborate the rights of participants during the study process, including the right to informed consent and the right to confidentiality
Impact of Regional Integration on Trade and Human Migration
You are cordially invited to participate in a research study involving the examination of the impact crime prevention strategies on crime rates in the case of Springfield, Illinois. You were selected as a participant based on your knowledge involving crime, crime prevention and general knowledge regarding the state of criminal activity in the area. Prior to participating in this study, please read through this form in order to familiarize yourself with the responses expected of you. Should you have any questions or concerns please voice them out to the researcher at any time. This study is being conducted by (PLACE NAME HERE) who is a doctoral degree candidate.
The purpose of this study is to determine the full gamut of effects that have come about as a result of the crime prevention strategies implemented by the local police force. This involves an examination of the effects of the crime prevention strategies on a micro and macro scale. This entails an investigation of the regional impact of the process on police operations and at the same time involves an examination on how such processes impact people on an individual basis. It is expected that this research study should provide an enlightening account regarding the positive and negative aspects of the processes that are currently being utilized in the case of Springfield, Illinois.
Should you agree to participate in this study; the following will be expected of you:
- Sign the consent form indicating that you are willing to participate in this study and that you are allowing the researcher to utilize the information you give as part of the data analysis.
- Give clear, concise and above all honest answers on the questionnaire as well as to the individual interviewing you.
- Fill out all the segments of the questionnaire
- Indicate your demographic data on questionnaire
- Be interviewed by the researcher after finishing the questionnaire and give honest responses
Assurance of Anonymity
All information that will be obtained via this method of data gathering will be kept strictly confidential with all research participants being assured of the anonymity of their responses. None of the responses will be released with any indication that they were given by a particular individual. The results will be quantified into basic statistics to ensure that no personally identifiable information can be identified. Information gathered from respondents of the survey will be destroyed after a period of 10 years to further ensure that no personal information will be leaked in any way.
Voluntary Nature of the Study
Your participation in this study is strictly voluntary. Your decision whether or not to participate will not affect your current or future relations with anyone involved in the study. You may withdraw from the study at any time without any penalty, even if you initially decide to participate.
Risk from Undertaking the Study
While there are no outright risks in participating in a study of this nature there are some long term risks that should be taken into consideration. There exists the possibility that participants in the study may face victimization or undue criticism due to the views they present which may or may not appeal to the “image” that various government agencies wish to portray themselves as. In order to prevent such problems from occurring, all data will be sealed within a locked cabinet and will not be presented without ensuring that all possible methods of identification have been removed beforehand.
Contacts and Questions
The researcher conducting this study is (First Name Last Name). The researcher’s adviser is XXX XXXX, Ph.D. You may ask any questions you have now. If you have questions later, you may contact us.
|Contact info for researcher:||Contact info for advisor:|
You will receive a copy of this form from the researcher.
Statement of Consent
I have read the above information. I have asked questions and received answers. I consent to participate in the study.
Printed Name of Participant: _________________________________________
Signature: _________________________________ Date: _____________
Signature of Investigator: _____________________ Date: _____________
Participant Pseudonym: __________________________
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