Some residents across Washington, D.C., have been clamoring for more foot patrols, and they’re about to get them, says the Washington Post. New mayor Adrian Fenty and acting police chief Cathy Lanier view foot patrols as a critical part of their community-policing strategy — a way to help police connect with the public at parks and business strips and on busy city blocks.
Some experts agree that foot patrols are good for community relations. They said research has shown that the tactic does little to cut crime. “People feel more confident when there are officers around,” said John Eck of the University of Cincinnati, who studies community policing. “The evidence it actually reduces crime is slim to none.” Wesley Skogan, a political scientist at Northwestern University who studies policing, says of foot patrols that, “The public loves them. Hard-nosed police administrators see them of limited utility.” Foot patrols have made a comeback across the nation as residents have demanded back-to-basics policing in cities such as New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Camden, N.J. In San Francisco, a dispute over community policing remains unresolved after the department confronted politicians, saying mandating foot patrols would cause response times to rise significantly.