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Problem statement: Citizen satisfaction with police performance is an important concern of public managers because police performance is central to citizens and accounts for a large share of urban budgets. Also, there is substantial disagreement in the literature regarding determents of citizen satisfaction.

Approach: Logistic regression was used to investigate the results of three public opinion surveys, conducted biannually, to identify determinants of citizen satisfaction with police.

Results: The explanatory power of the models was indicated by concordance of over .80. The findings indicated that satisfaction was largely determined by citizen perception of police behaviors. Four variables reflecting perceptions of police performance were particularly important: Response time to a crime in progress, visibility on the street, the quality of the relationship between the police and community and police efforts to reduce crime, indicating a chi square significance of <0.001. Almost all demographic and other individual factors, as well as subjective measures of crime severity in the respondent’s neighborhood were insignificant or less important.

Conclusion/Recommendations: The findings suggested that public officials could improve citizen satisfaction by focusing on specific aspects of police behavior. Training programs should be oriented accordingly. Further research regarding how citizens interpret certain words, gestures, postures, or other behaviors by police promises to enhance satisfaction.


© 2009 James E. Larsen and John P. Blair. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.