Institutional incentives and community policing

Originally published in Journal of Institutional Economics

Most American police departments claim to practice community-oriented policing (COP). The stated goals are to build partnerships between the police and the community, maintain order and quality of life, and solve problems that contribute to crime and fear of crime. However, researchers have noted how most departments attempting to implement COP have fallen short in successfully adopting the recommended reforms. This paper argues that the institutional setting in which American public policing operates leads to this result. By contrast, the institutional features of private security make its operation more conducive to achieving the goals of COP. These institutional differences include whether economic calculation is possible, the domain that is policed, and which rules are enforced.

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