A community policing strategy that put San Diego on the map nationally is being called only a modest success in a new study, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The program fell short of goals to reduce crime and may not be so effective as once thought, the study says. It was based in large part on interviews with 320 San Diego officers and a written survey of 276 officers, out of a force of 2,000. The study appears in Criminology & Public Policy, a journal of the American Society of Criminology. It was written by Gary Cordner and Elizabeth Perkins Biebel of Eastern Kentucky University and edited by Todd Clear of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Officers told researchers that they didn’t have the time to do community policing. They generally expressed support for it, but also had skepticism and fatigue over the strategy. The results throw into doubt effectiveness of community policing in police departments that followed San Diego’s lead, says the Union-Tribune. Assistant San Diego Police Chief Lou Scanlon said the department remains committed to community policing despite the critical study. San Diego ranks 27th out of the 28 largest U.S. cities in number of police officers, with 1.6 per 1,000 residents. Community policing has been widely touted as a reason for the San Diego’s low crime rate and generated similar programs across the country. During the 1990s, more than $1.4 billion in federal money was spent on community policing and police.