The purpose of the study was on the role of the police officer in terms of implementing public safety, the research will investigate the effect of public perception on police forces actions and duties on implementation of public safety. Police’s perceptions on their actions and duties when implementing public safety will also be looked at. The researcher will conduct a survey based on simple random sampling. The study will be asking 120 respondents to participate in the survey of which will primarily come from; 60 members of the general public, 40 police representative and 20 relevant stakeholders.
The research will use Primary and secondary sources for gathering data, primary data will be collected using questionnaires and interview while internet, journals and books will act as source for secondary data. The data will be analysed using tables, graphs and pie charts. These methods will help in analysing the data collected towards compiling information for the study, which will facilitate in coming up with reliable findings and recommendation.
The Research Proposal on the Role of the Police Officer (PO) In Terms of Implementing Public Safety
Police officers work in partnership with the public and are in the front line in the fight against crime and the fear of crime. They are citizen-focused, responding to the needs of individuals and communities. Using the latest technology, police officers are trained to manage information and intelligence in order to secure successful court prosecutions (Flanagan and Longmire, 2001). Major priorities include tackling antisocial behavior, reducing theft, robbery and street-related crime, combating organized crime, countering terrorism, supporting victims and providing a reassuring presence in the community.
A police officer (also known as a policeman or policewoman) is referred by Chackerian (1974), as a warranted employee of a police force. Police officers are generally responsible for apprehending criminals, maintaining public order, and preventing and detecting crimes. Police officers are sworn to an oath, and are granted the power to arrest and imprison suspects, along with other practices (Chackerian, 1974).
Responsibilities of a police officer are broad, changing from country to country. Common responsibilities include keeping of the peace, enforcement of the law, protection of the public and property, and the investigation of crimes. Officers are expected to be able to respond to a variety of situations that may arise while they are on duty. Rules and guidelines dictate how an officer should act towards the public and in the community, and some countries have restrictions placed on what the uniform officer wears.
In some countries, rules and procedure dictate that a police officer is obliged to intervene in a criminal incident, even if they are off-duty. Police officers in most countries retain their lawful powers, while off duty (Thurman & Reisig 1996).
Function in the community, in the majority of Western legal systems, the major role of the police is to maintain order, keeping the peace through the enforcement of the law (Skogan, 1975). They also function to discourage crimes through high-visibility policing, and most police forces have an investigative capability. Police have the legal authority of arrest, usually granted to them by magistrates. Police officers also respond to emergency calls, along with routine community policing (Bayley, 1976).
In recent years there has been a move within police servicestowards a proactive andintelligence-led style of policing.This has coincided with recognition ofthe value of localpolicing solutions andthe importance ofthe intelligence functionat the local area command level. In today’s politically correct world, police are often accused of profiling, selective enforcement, excessive force, racial insensitivity, along with a multitude of other complaints. We will never satisfy all of the naysayers, but we can improve police image by changing our perception and the perception of others. One of the most difficult problems that a police executive faces is the changing and sometimes negative attitude of the people we are sworn to protect (Wirths, 1958).
The public’s perception of law enforcement is critical to maintaining an efficiently operating organization and, without the support of that public; we will not have the full ability to complete their tasks.
Currently, in many jurisdictions, police organizations and community members have an almost adversarial relationship (Jesilow, Meyer & Namazzi, 1995). “Attitude” can be defined as posture, relative position, feeling, opinion, or mood. When a member of the public describes the police as having a poor attitude, he or she could be referring to the officers’ physical demeanor, tone of voice, mannerisms, or his uniform and appearance (Albrecht & Green, 1977).
The perceived bad attitude of one officer to one member of the public will have ramifications many times over and could affect the entire department. An officer who approaches a citizen with his hat pushed back on his head or with a cigarette, dangling from his lips does not exactly inspire confidence. A simple thing like wrinkled uniform and dirty shoes can do a lot to exacerbate a negative image (Albrecht & Green, 1977).
Gap in Research
An intensive three-year survey on the Rajasthan Police has reaffirmed grave fears that a large majority of citizens has little trust in the local constabulary and most found police officers to be lazy. Though there’s no comparable study on the police forces in other Indian states, Abhijit Banerjee, professor of economics at Poverty Action Lab of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-author of the study, said the results could be extrapolated to other states and in world (Cox, 1996). The survey aimed to understand public perception of the police, how police officers view their jobs and the success rate of reforms initiated by the Rajasthan Police (Reisig & Correia, 1997).
A number of police officers, citizens and experts who have participated or conducted similar studies all concurred that though the studies were rigorously carried out; its recommendations were not new. Police citizens’ academies are perhaps one of the most effective means of educating the public by helping change and improve the perception of the police department (Huang & Vaughn, 1996). As a presenter at similar studies, I have always been impressed by the diversity of the volunteers: the volunteers were extremely interested in police work, and included businessmen, laborers, factory workers and college students, to name but a few (Bordua and Tifft, 1971). Though all these were not the ultimate solution, but it’s a beginning. With the whole distinction of the police perception on public and visa-vie of their both actions and duties, it will be the study’s contrast to unfold more light on understanding of difference between the public’s perception of the police actions and duties and the perception of the police of their actions and duties (Reisig & Correia, 1997).
The reforms on enhancing police and public positive perception can be extended to four areas: freezing personnel transfers to reduce external interference in police work and provide security of tenure; inviting the public to sit in police stations for three hours a day to help bridge the communication gap between the public and police; rotating personnel in police duties to increase efficiency and manpower flexibility and a weekly day off; and providing training in both technical and investigative skills (Bercal, 1970).
Most research studies have just contributed more on how police duties and protocols should be adhered to when implementing public safety in the society, leaving the general public with negative perception on police action and duties in provision of public safety. On the other hand, significant role and contribution of the general public on implementation of the public safety to police not attributed by most researches (Murphy & Worrall, 1998).
The study is vital in bringing out the distinction between perception of the police and the general public on each to a positive outlook than as a suspicious one, where police and public view each other as enemies instead as a one community. More importantly, the research will be strengthening subtle factors that might have influenced the distinction of these perceptions. This will assist in coming up with informed strategies and policies that will highly contribute to bridging of these negative perceptions of the police and the public in provision of public safety.
The research study will be evaluating on the effect of these perceptions from the community level, as well as policy makers and all relevant stakeholders on the both ends towards provision of public safety. As such, it is with this respect that the research seeks to significantly contribute to the scholarly studies devoted in order to analyze such dynamics.
The role of the police in the society is of paramount importance in ensuring public safety. Protection of property, enforcing laws and bringing order and sanity during chaotic situations are just a few examples of their role. The police work alongside with other stakeholders such as the firefighters, municipal council and detectives and more importantly the public in executing their responsibilities and service to the citizens. Michael (2008) argues that the work of the police is intrinsically reactive, as the police are only needed when there is a crisis or a problem, which differentiates their work from other jobs. Bringing back order is a difficult task, which may contribute to the reason why police are perceived negatively. The public who are the main recipients of police services hold various reasons for perceiving the police in a negative picture.
According to a research by Maria (2004), it was discovered that police fail to execute their duties as the public expects of them. First the public believes that the police should be visible; patrolling on foot rather than in cars. When police patrol in cars, people tend to think that they are chasing after a reckless driver or attending an important call, which distances them from the ground public needs of solving small but pinching issues. The absence of police on foot was highly attributed to an increase in crime including burglary, sexual assault as well as drug use (Maria, 2004). In addition, Maria revealed that the public believes that the police are not accessible as they concentrate on (which they consider) major issues, hence neglecting the basic needs of the public.
Another aspect that the public hold against the police is their attitude, discrimination and lack of integrity. From the study, many participants agreed that the police had a negative attitude that often left a person frustrated or felt ill treated. The mode of communication and asking questions is selective, not taking into account the victim’s details as expected.
Thus, the public feels underserved and that the police are not doing their work. A significant group of respondents in Maria’s study also pointed out the tendency of discrimination by the police. Police were reportedly negligent of minority populations or immigrants call to crime while they also stressed on impromptu searches on this group (John, Deborah and Sarah, 2003).
Besides, the police appear not to trust this group of people, which creates a bad impression. The younger generation seems to bear a general negative perception of the police. They believe that the police intimidate them and are unfriendly. In addition, various researches concludes that the police do not communicate effectively or liaison with the public in fighting crime. This makes the people to feel unsafe and insecure despite the presence of the police.
Misconduct in the police force is also an issue of concern for the public. The highly publicized police misconduct of a few officers by the media such as corruption, violence, involvement in crime and negligence of their duties make the public to mistrust the police. However, there are those who believe in the police for their safety and hold high respect for the police.
Michael (2008) is in defense of police negative perception. He supports police work but argues that the public is largely influenced by the media who concentrate on a few irresponsible police officers and fail to report the numerous good works that the police do every day. He observes that the conventional liberal media thinks that the work of police is not entertaining without being quandary. Beside, he blames politics in invading the work of the police by placing demonstrations against them and filing lawsuits for their own political and financial gain.
For the purpose of this research, the study wanted to know: What is the role of the Police Officer in terms of promoting the Public Safety programs in their community and its relation to building a favorable image?
Specifically, the research wanted to know:
a) What is the public’s perception of the police duties and actions?
b) What is the police’s perception of their duties and actions?
c) What is the relationship between the public and the police?
d) What actions and duties do the police communicate to the public?
On community orienting policing programs, armed and unarmed
For the purpose of this research, the study will be employing both quantitative and qualitative research methods. It is often the case that quantitative research employs the method that is based on testing of theories.
It uses measurement of numbers, and statistical analysis to perform its studies. The idea behind quantitative research is often to ascertain that a generalized theory or the prediction of a theory will be confirmed by the use of numbers. The aforementioned normally starts with a research question or a hypothesis in addition to other theories that are needed to be tested.
The approach of quantitative research includes the use of formal and generally recognized instruments (O’brien, 1998). In addition to this, the quantitative tradition of research focuses on conducting experiments with an underlying expectation that a consensus would be arrived at. This method usually aims to arrive at a predictable generalization, and a causal explanation. Quantitative research can create a controlled environment in order to attain inductive analysis. The goal of this research tradition is to establish a consensus by reducing data to numerical indications, hence finally identifying if certain generalizations are valid or invalid (O’brien, 1998). In this research method it is very relevant that the researcher must maintain its independence from the research object; and consequently, the research outcome is expected to be not value affected (O’brien, 1998). The quantitative methodology also tests cause and effect by using deductive logic. When done correctly a quantitative research should be able to predict, and explain the theory in question (O’brien, 1998).
On the other hand, the Qualitative research focuses primarily on words rather than numbers. The main research instrument for such a type of tradition is the process of involvement of the researcher to the people whom he or she studies (Dyamon & Holloway, 2002). In relation with this, the viewpoints of the participants are also taken into much account. The Qualitative research tradition focuses on small-scale studies wherein deep explorations are being conducted in order to provide a detailed and holistic description and explanation of a specific subject matter. Rather than focusing on a single or two isolated variables, the aforementioned takes into account interconnected activities, experiences, beliefs and values of people, hence adopting a multiple dimension for study.
This tradition of research is also flexible in a sense that certain factors are being explored due to not necessarily adhering to a strict method of data gathering.
It also captures certain processes wherein changes in sequence of events, behaviors and transformation among cultures are closely taken into consideration. More importantly, a qualitative research is normally carried out in venues that are within a respondent's natural environment such as schools, offices, homes, etc. This allowed participants to be more at ease and be able to express their ideas freely (Dyamon & Holloway, 2002).
The data gathering will consist of secondary and primary data collections.
Ghauri, Gronhaug and Kristianslund emphasized the importance of secondary data collection most especially through desk or library research (1995). Secondary data collection normally includes data that were collected by another researcher or writer. It is often the case that they are lifted from books of recent publications, journals, magazines, newspapers and even trusted websites such as those of private organizations, non-government organizations, government organizations and the likes. The review of related literature will provide a scholarly perspective on the subject matter and at the same time made the researcher aware of both previous and contemporary research on the subject matter. For the purpose of this research, the author will be using scholarly journals and articles, books and magazines specifically focusing on the subjects of public and police perception on implementation of public safety and the role of both police and public. The scholarly literatures will be primarily taken from EBSCO Host, JSTOR and Question Media America, an exclusive on-line library.
For the primary data collection for quantitative data, the study will be conducting surveys among members of the public, police departments and general stakeholders using questions of ordinal measurement using Likert scales.
Surveys include the process of using questionnaires with the aim of making an estimation of the perceptions of the subjects of the study. Surveys are considered advantageous because it could be used to study a huge number of subjects (Ghauri, Gronhaug & Kristianslund, 1995).
Data Gathering Methods and their Justification
For the purpose of this research, the researcher will be using self-administered questionnaires. Self-administered questionnaires often times offer a higher response rate and are also relatively cost effective (Ghauri, Gronhaug & Kristianslund, 1995). Foremost of its advantage rests on the notion that the process of data gathering could be more personal and also the researcher will be able to clarify certain notions that could be unclear in the survey form. However, one distinct disadvantage of such a method is the difficulty of administrating the survey to multiple respondents all at the same time. In addition, the self-administered data gathering could be very time consuming as well.
The research will also be conducting an interview in order to collect the qualitative data necessary for the research. Interviews are very relevant most specially in getting data that could be a rich source of information that surveys could not provide (Ghauri, Gronhaug & Kristianslund, 1995). For the purpose of interviewing, various stakeholders from General public and police representatives will be asked with regard to their perceptions of their perception on each other’s actions and roles on police implementation of public safety.
The questionnaire design for the survey will be made in a detailed, precise and logical construction of close-ended questions. In addition with this, the questions will also be made in accordance with the research question and the objectives of the research (Oppenheim, 1992).
The questions will be formulated using an ordinal scale and will be close-ended in nature. Such is relevant so that respondents would only have to encircle or check the designated number of their corresponding responses (Oppenhein, 1992). In addition to this, close-ended questions are very easy to answer and could enable the researcher create a summated value that could be use for data analysis. The questions that will be used in the interview will be tailored in such a manner that would directly answer concerns that are in accordance of the objectives of the study. The details on how general public and police can work together in creating a positive perception towards implementation of public safety will be included in the survey.
For the purpose of this research, the researcher will conduct a survey based on simple random sampling (SRS) which will include randomly choosing participants coming from general public, police department and other stakeholders. On the other hand, the research will be employing purposive sampling methods in terms of choosing the stakeholders involved who can participate in the study.
According to Ghauri, Gronhaug and Kristianslund research should cater to a target population that has all the necessary information for the research such as sampling elements, sampling units, and area of coverage (1995). For the purpose of this study, the author is trying to identify the perception of general public on police and visa – vie on the action and role of police when implementing public safety. As such, the study will be asking 120 respondents to participate in the survey of which will primarily come from; 60 members of the general public, 40 police representative and 20 relevant stakeholders.
Reliability and Validity
The study's reliability and validity go hand in hand as patterns of measurement are both dependent on the aforementioned (Zikmund, 1994). Reliability primarily focuses on the internal consistency and the repeatability of the variables within the research. On the other hand, validity centers on the correctness and appropriateness of the question that one intends to measure (Ghauri, Gronhaug & Kristianslund, 1995). According to Chisnall, validity is generally considered and established through the relationship of the instrument to the content, criterion or construct that it attempts to measure. A lack of validity can lead to incorrect conclusion. In order to make sure that the instrument that will be used are reliable and valid, the researcher will assure that such is patterned based on the objectives of the study, the secondary data and also on the feedback that was given based on the pilot study that will be conducted.
Analysis of Data
Data information gathered from the surveys and interviews and secondary data from the other studies found will be used for the analysis that would answer the research question. Charts and comparisons of data will be used as analysis tools. Statistics used will be based on the survey results from the questionnaire made by the researcher. Statistical Products and Service Solutions (SPSS) will also be used to determine the stand of the respondents regarding a particular question formulated in the survey (Griego & Morgan, 2000).