"Evaluating Community Policing in Chicago," in Policing and Program Evaluation,
edited by Kent R. Kerley. New York: Prentice Hall, 2005, 27-41.
This chapter examines the impact of Chicago's community policing experiment on
neighborhood problems. It comes at a time when there is interest around the world in
developing new approaches to policing and in systematically assessing how well they work.
These twin interests call for two kinds of evaluations. Process evaluations examine program
design and implementation. They document a program's "theory," or how its developers
thought it was supposed to work. Process evaluations also document the actual
implementation of the program, for there is often a gap between plans and reality. Impact
evaluations analyze the effects that a program had on the problems that it targeted, and if the
program had unexpected or unintended consequences as well. The strength of an impact
evaluation is dependent on its design and how well it measures what the program might
accomplish. This chapter describes an evaluation of a community policing program in
Chicago. It was both a process and an impact evaluation, although this chapter will focus on
what our team (made up of academic researchers headquartered at Northwestern University)
found out about the consequences of the program for the city's residents. The first section
describes the program and the evaluation. The next documents the analytic approach that
was adopted that enabled us to assess the impact.
“Community Policing in Chicago.” 1998. In G. Alpert and A. Piquero (eds.),
Community Policing. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 159–174.
This chapter describes Chicago's community policing program. The city's experiment with
community policing began in April 1993. For more than a year the Police Department had
worked on a plan for Chicago's Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) and laid the groundwork
for implementing it in selected districts. At the heart of the plan lay the reorganization of
policing around small geographical areas, the city's 279 police beats. Officers assigned to
beat teams were expected to engage in identifying and dealing with a broad range of
neighborhood problems in partnership with neighborhood residents and community
organizations. To give them time to do this, some of the burden of responding to 911 calls
was shifted to rapid response teams, and tactical units, youth officers, and detectives were
expected to work more closely in support of beat officers. All of these officers shared
responsibility for meeting and working with members of the community on a regular basis at
beat meetings. At the district level, advisory committees were formed to review issues of
wider scope and to discuss strategic issues with district commanders. A prioritizing system
was developed for coordinating the delivery of municipal services to support local problem-
solving efforts, and new computer technology began to be introduced that would support the
analysis of local crime problems. In the sections that follow, this chapter evaluates this
ambitious program. First it lays down some general principles describing what community
policing is, and then it describes key elements of the city's program to see how well they fit
the model. Next it briefly describes the findings of an evaluation that examined the impact of
community policing on the quality of life in five pilot districts. Further details about the project
can be found in Skogan and Hartnett, 1997.