"Storefront Police Offices: The Houston Field Test," in Dennis Rosenbaum (ed.)
Community Crime Prevention: Does It Work?. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications,
1986, 179-199.
This chapter summarizes the results of a field test conducted by the Houston Police Department
and evaluated by the Police Foundation. The project, carried out from the fall of 1983 through
the summer of 1984, tested the hypothesis that the operation of a police community station in a
neighborhood could reduce fear of crime and increase citizens' satisfaction with their
neighborhood and with the police. The evaluation found that the creation of the station had
several statistically significant effects indicated by random sample surveys conducted before
and after the program, and in the analysis of a subset panel of individuals who were interviewed
at both times. The program, the evaluation methods, and the major findings are described in
this chapter.
Reducing Fear of Crime in Houston and Newark. Washington DC: National Institute of
Justice/Police Foundation, February, 1986.
In cooperation with the police departments of Houston and Newark, and the active support of
the National Institute of Justice, the Police Foundation put to the test a variety of methods
intended to reduce fear, improve the quality of neighborhood life, and increase popular
satisfaction with police services. The report that follows summarizes those experiments. Among
the concrete lessons of those experiments are these:  1) In Houston, where the population is
growing rapidly, densities are low, and neighborhoods are new, opening a neighborhood police
station, contacting the citizens about their problems, and stimulating the formation of
neighborhood organizations where none had existed helped reduce the fear of crime and the
actual level of victimization. 2) The value of these organizing and communicating efforts seem
to be greatest for white, middle-class homeowners and least for black renters. This suggests
that not every strategy works equally well for every group. 3) In an older, more disadvantaged
city such as Newark, many of the same steps – including opening a storefront police office and
directing the police to make contacts with citizens in their homes – also had beneficial effects,
especially when they were supplemented with aggressive efforts to enforce the law and
maintain order in those neighborhoods. 4) Police officers often resist being assigned to making
citizen contacts, running a storefront office, or organizing neighborhood meetings. "It's not real
police work", but in Houston and Newark that initial resistance soon gave way to enthusiasm
when the officers realized how receptive the citizens were, how much information the police
thereby obtained, and how appreciate most people were for the attention paid to their
problems. 5) Helping citizens reduce their fear of crime in ways that improve satisfaction with
police services requires a proactive strategy–it is not enough to respond to spontaneous
requests for information, attend the meetings of groups already organized, or wait for citizens to
come to headquarters. There must be a positive outreach program designed to crate interest,
meetings, and inquiries. 6) Like all aspects of good police work, the community-contact strategy
requires careful planning, training, and supervision and the recruitment of able personnel. 7)
Learning what works in any city requires a commitment to the experimental method, in which a
new tactic is tried in a way that permits a systematic, unbiased evaluation of its outcome.
Community Policing