Does the fact that there are 100,000 extra police officers on American streets make people feel safer?
A new government survey reports that residents of 12 U.S. cities are generally satisfied with the quality of life in their communities, but many still fear neighborhood crime. In six of the cities, at least 25 percent of citizens who expressed fear said their worries had escalated in the last year.
The study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services marks the first effort in 20 years to gather data on victimization and community policing at the city level. While a majority of respondents across all cities had not noticed a change in police presence in the last 12 months, 54 percent overall said police engaged in various outreach efforts, such as running youth programs and attending meetings, in their neighborhood.
Getting citizens to participate in anti-crime efforts has proven difficult, however: People are more likely to install a second dead-bolt on their door than attend a community watch meeting. Matt Peskin, executive director of National Association of Town Watch, a nonprofit crime prevention organization, admits it's difficult getting citizens to become involved - and stay involved - in watch programs. "Watch programs often suffer from their own success," he says. "Once the crime goes away, there's a tendency to fall apart." Currently, there are about 20,000 crime watch groups across the country.
For more information about the study, call the Bureau of Justice Statistics at (800) 732-3277 or download the full report at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cvpcs98.htm.