"Public Policy and Public Evaluations of Justice System Performance," in John
Gardiner and Michael Mulkey (eds.) Crime and Criminal Justice: Issues in Public
Policy. Lexington Books/D.C. Heath, 1975, Chapter 5, 51-58.

One of the major developments of the past decade of research and evaluations in crime
control has been the emergence of a “consumer perspective” in the measurement of the
efficiency and effectiveness of criminal justice agencies. This perspective has developed in
response to dissatisfaction with traditional measures of institutional performance, the growing
realization that those agencies touch our lives in many ways other than through the crime
rate, and an emerging sensitivity to the differential distribution of safety and public
satisfaction that criminal justice agencies foster. The consumer orientation toward
performance measurement has been expressed in several ways: through the use of
systematic interviews to evaluate the outcome of citizens’ encounters with criminal justice
organizations, through the incorporation of interviews with affected populations into designs
for the evaluation of specific institutional reforms, and through the utilization of large-scale
sample surveys to investigate the effect of existing variations in agency activity upon public
attitudes and perceptions.
Thus it is probably not accidental that it is the police–the element of the law enforcement
system most vulnerable to such charges–who have done the most experimentation with
citizen evaluation programs, and whose activities have been the most closely monitored in
this fashion by outside observers. Most of our experience with programs to evaluate citizens’
experiences, test the effects of reform and predict the effects of proposed policies on the
basis of current patterns of public satisfaction and dissatisfaction has come from research on
the police function. The models employed to analyze police operations are general ones,
however. With some modification, they could be employed to evaluate the performance of
other aspects of the criminal justice system. This essay reviews some of the applications of
citizen evaluation techniques in the area of law enforcement, including projects measuring
the effects of police-citizen encounters, the consequences of organizational reform, and the
correlates of inter-jurisdictional variations in law-enforcement policy. It concludes that, while
several provocative empirical propositions about citizen satisfaction have emerged, the
research literature is conceptually deficient. Neither the theoretical nor the practical bases
for the selection of performance indicators have been clarified.
Police-Public Encounters Abstracts