Could addressing performance appraisal with community input, and departmental funding review and allocation play a role in changing the paradigm?
Pop culture portrays police largely as elite detectives, intensely focused on tracking down the worst of the worst: drug kingpins, serial killers, child kidnappers. An analysis published in the journal Criminal Justice and Behavior found that 66 percent of the crimes depicted in three popular TV police dramas were murder or attempted murder. And Attorney General William P. Barr claimed in a speech at a Fraternal Order of Police conference last year that, “We are fighting an unrelenting, never-ending fight against criminal predators in our society.”
But police mostly spend their time on noncriminal matters, including patrol, paperwork, noise complaints, traffic infractions and people in distress. An observational study in Criminal Justice Review shows that patrol officers, who make up most of police forces, spend about one-third of their time on random patrol, one-fifth responding to non-crime calls and about 17 percent responding to crime-related calls — the vast majority of which are misdemeanors. About 13 percent of their workday is devoted to administrative tasks and 9 percent to personal activities (such as eating). The remaining 7 percent of the time, officers are dealing with the public, providing assistance or information, problem solving and attending community meetings. A 2019 Vera Institute of Justice report found that fewer than 5 percent of arrests are related to serious violent crimes.