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Measuring Police Officer Effectiveness Concerning Building Trusting Relationships with the Community

Author: Lieutenant Mark Sedevic, Ed.D.

Copyright: Copyright 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content

Date: 2017-05-17
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Traditional police performance measures disregard the nature of police-citizen encounters, which is a fundamental piece of the relationship between the police and the communities they serve (Mastrofski, 1999). Evaluating police agencies only on their ability to arrest offenders, write tickets, and clear cases ignores the vital importance of the other work that police officers do every day (Maguire, 2003). The traditional reactive policing strategies only seek to prevent or respond to crime rather than investigating longer-term outcomes like effectiveness, police legitimacy, and citizen satisfaction (Gill et al., 2014). Additionally, The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing (2015) stated that police departments should track and analyze the amount of trust residents have in the police similar to the manner they examine crime. The purpose of this article is as follows.

To build trusting relationships between police officers and the community.

To measure police officer effectiveness concerning building trusting relationships with the community.

To gain the support of high-level police command staff to utilize the various measures (Most notably: Two surveys created by the author) of police/community trust at accountability meetings.


Community Policing And Trust

Community policing is a philosophy that aims to improve relationships between the police and the residents who are served by the police. It draws upon residents’ expertise in identifying and understanding the multiple issues that the police deal with in a community (Trojanowicz et al., 1998). Community policing is not a program where only a limited number of police officers work and interact with community residents in numerous fashions. Every police officer, from the lowest ranking member to the highest ranking police officer, needs to positively interact with residents daily. This positive interaction is needed to establish an on-going dialogue with community members, increase satisfaction, and develop legitimacy (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2015).

Police legitimacy refers to when a citizen feels that a police officer should be deferred to, complied with, and trusted. It has been stated that positive citizen experiences lead to positive evaluations of the police (Meares, 2009). Police officers gain legitimacy through practicing procedural justice. The procedures used by police officers where citizens are treated fairly and with proper respect as human beings is procedural justice. Tyler and Mentovich (2011) break down procedural justice into two main parts. The first is the quality of decision making or how an officer makes his or her decision. Decision making is further broken down into Voice – allowing a person to talk and give a reason for their actions and Neutrality – the decision is fair, impartial, and objective. The second part of procedural justice is the Quality of treatment or how the police treat people. The quality of treatment is further broken down into respect for people and their rights and trustworthiness, which is gained by providing a transparent process. The procedural justice process of fairness and respect leads residents to view the police as legitimate and trustworthy.

Trust between police agencies and the residents they serve and protect is paramount in a democracy (President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, 2015). This harkens back to Peel’s Principles of Law Enforcement that state, “The police at all times should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police (Peel, 1829).” In a democracy, the police are members of the communities that they serve and it is imperative that the police continually strive to build trusting relationships with the residents who give them the power to serve the community. Every officer of a police department must understand that he or she represents the entire profession, that personal integrity and conduct is his or her own responsibility, and that he or she will be held accountable for all conduct and behavior, whether positive or negative (U.S. Department of Justice, 2009).

The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing (2015) stated that police departments should track and analyze the amount of trust residents have in the police similar to the manner they examine crime. The U.S. Conference of Mayors (2015) stated, “Changes are needed in the way police departments measure the efficacy of their activities. The measurement system should reflect the community policing culture and importance of prevention so that success is not based solely on rates of reported crimes and arrests.” Police organizations should expand and improve community policing to bring back a more personalized policing approach to foster the development of mutual trust between the police and members of the communities they serve. Policing agencies need to fully embrace and establish the need to build community trust as a mission goal (Rickman, 2016).

Considering the above, police organizations need to measure officer effectiveness concerning building trusting relationships with the community by identifying various methods to do so.


Englewood, Chicago

Englewood and West Englewood are two of the 77 official community areas in Chicago and roughly 96% of the population is African American (AreaVibes Inc., 2017). For the remainder of this article, the author will refer to both the Englewood Community and West Englewood Community as one, since the 7th Chicago police district covers both communities and they are both commonly referred to as “Englewood.” In the author’s opinion, Englewood is the best place to start to have conversations with people about trust. The author worked in the Englewood neighborhood as a police sergeant in the years 2007 and 2008. Plus, the author currently works in the Englewood neighborhood as a police lieutenant and has worked there since March 2016. During my time being assigned to the Englewood community, I have used my leadership to develop trusting relationships with many members of the Englewood community. Additionally, I have observed some wonderful people selflessly give everything of themselves to make the Englewood community a better place to live and transform people’s lives. In order to make these positive transformations, I have witnessed these outstanding people build trusting relationships with members of a community who do not give trust very easily.

Englewood is a community that has suffered through a long period of unemployment, poverty, lack of jobs, population decline, violent crime, and many other social issues. It is bordered by Garfield Boulevard to the north, 75th Street to the south, Hamilton to the west, and the Dan Ryan Expressway to the east. The neighborhood’s population has dropped dramatically since its peak population in 1960 (Encyclopedia of Chicago, 2017). The 2010 census indicated that Englewood’s population (Englewood and West Englewood combined) declined to approximately 65,000, which was down 23% from just ten years earlier (U.S. Census, 2010). In my own estimation, the population in Englewood has continued to decrease based upon the increasing number of abandoned building and vacant lots. The income per capita in Englewood ($11,487) is 60% lower than the national average and the median household income in Englewood ($19,930) is 63% lower than the national average (AreaVibes, 2017). In Englewood, the unemployment rate is 21.3 percent and the poverty level is 42.2 percent (Carroll, 2013). 

One of the most alarming statistics about Englewood is the amount of violent crime that occurs within the community boundaries. The 7th Chicago Police District covers all of Englewood’s boundaries. In 2016, the 7th district was second in homicides (87) among all Chicago Police districts. The 7th District ranked second in aggravated batteries with 691 from March 6, 2016 to March 5, 2017. Also, the 7th police district ranked 3rd in overall violent crime incidents with 1978 from March 6, 2016 to March 5, 2017. Violent crime incidents include aggravated assault, aggravated battery, criminal sexual assault, robbery, and homicide. The 7th district is the least populated police district in the city of Chicago. With the population of Englewood being less than 65,000 and the population of the city of Chicago being about 2.7 million, the population of Englewood represents about 2% or less of the total population of the city of Chicago. Yet, there is an overwhelming amount of crime occurring in the Englewood community that requires a large amount of police resources.


Why Englewood?

Trust is a complex human emotion. It is the strong belief in the reliability, truth, ability, character, goodness, or strength of someone or something. Trauma can disrupt and negatively impact the trust that one has in others, possibly, for a prolonged period. Trauma can occur for a multitude of reasons, but all trauma is the result of a deeply painful or disturbing experience. Trauma is defined as emotional shock after one is exposed to a stressful event or physical injury. Different causes of trauma may include getting shot, being hit by another person, motor vehicle accidents, criminal sexual assaults, neglect, witnessing horrible events, living through a natural disaster, or significant emotional or mental distress (, 2017; Matsakis, 1998).

Being that there is a great amount of violence that occurs in the Englewood community and its residents are exposed to numerous types of trauma, it may be difficult for anyone to earn the trust of its community members. While working in the Englewood community, I have witnessed some amazing people earn the trust of Englewood’s residents and positively impact the lives of many in various ways. Additionally, I have built positive relationships with these impactful people through my leadership of practicing procedural justice and treating others how I would like to be treated. I listen earnestly to them, show genuine interest in everything they do, demonstrate empathy, encourage, and invite feedback regularly. I utilized the trust built with three of these Englewood change agents and sat down with them to discuss how they believe they earned the trust of the residents of Englewood. I wanted to talk with these three individuals because they simply want to do the right thing and help others in a positive fashion.



Sally Hazelgrove
Saly Hazelgrove runs the Crushers Boxing Gym in Englewood. Ms. Hazelgrove grew up in the Chicago suburbs, but has been working to better the lives of the youth in Englewood for 17 years. She lived in Englewood for six years and opened Crushers Boxing Gym in 2013, which serves boys between the ages of seven to eighteen. About sixty percent of the boys who attend the Crushers gym are mandated to attend there via juvenile probation because they committed a crime. The other forty percent attend the gym because it is a neighborhood safe-haven where boxing skills can be acquired. The Crushers Gym exists to help Englewood children get away from gangs and teach them how to dream and fight for their futures. Ms. Hazelgrove teaches her young boxers accountability, right from wrong, and eventually how to mentor younger kids. Ms. Hazelgrove believes the following help her to build trusting relationships in the Englewood community and change lives at her boxing gym.

  • Care
  • Be genuine
  • Treat people how you want to be treated
  • Love
  • Be empathetic
  • Listen
  • Do not show fear
  • Humility
  • Smile
  • Be direct

Phillip Sipka
Kusanya Café is a nonprofit coffee shop and creative community gathering place located in the Englewood community. Its name in Swahili means “to gather.” There have been poetry readings, karaoke nights, free yoga classes, and many other events at Kusanya Café. Phillip Sipka started the café and currently runs its operations. He is a native of Alma, Michigan and studied at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. Mr. Sipka has lived in Englewood for the past nine years and started Kusanya Café in 2013. Ninety percent of the café is sustained by sales, while the remaining ten percent is from individual donations and small grants. Kusanya Café exists to provide a place where great people can come together over outstanding food and community-born events take place. Mr. Sipka believes the following help him to build trusting relationships in the Englewood community and have a successful business.

  • Be vulnerable
  • Embrace community ideas
  • All board members are from the neighborhood
  • Give preference to Englewood residents for employment
  • Concentrate on operations (serving the neighborhood)
  • Treat others how you want to be treated
  • Being empathetic to the community leads to success
  • Have a heart
  • Extend respect
  • Listen to others

Albert Green
Mr. Albert Green runs a successful teen mentoring program for the Salvation Army in Englewood. Mr. Green’s program provides one-on-one support and group meetings to help Englewood teens address issues arriving from homelessness, hunger, addiction, unemployment and violence. The mentoring programs help teens work through grief and learn to develop stable and supportive relationships. Mr. Green grew up in Englewood and lived there for eighteen years. Mr. Green has been working to help the youth in Englewood for the past seven years at the Salvation Army and has a deep faith in God. He believes the following help him to build trusting relationships in the Englewood community and have successful mentoring programs.

  • Be genuine, real, and not fake
  • Listen
  • Show neutrality
  • Be honest
  • Stay objective
  • Have expectations and structure
  • Be understanding
  • Love
  • Be consistent
  • Dedication and commitment



After listening to the influential people who are making a positive difference and building trusting relationships in Englewood, I decided to utilize their wisdom to build two separate surveys. If constructed in the proper manner, surveys can provide valuable data to measure police officer effectiveness concerning building trusting relationships with the community. No existing survey instruments were sufficient for what was to be measured, so ideas from multiple sources were gathered and developed into two questionnaires from this theoretical framework. Additionally, I brought in my own education and experience into building the two surveys. This author has over sixteen years of law enforcement experience with the Chicago Police Department, over ten years of law enforcement managerial experience, earned an educational doctorate in Ethical Leadership, helped to develop the Chicago Police Department’s procedural justice curriculum, and taught in the Chicago Police Department’s procedural justice program. Additionally, this author grew up in the city of Chicago and has been involved in positively affecting the Chicago community in numerous ways for many years.


Community Interaction Event Survey

The first survey is titled the “Community Interaction Event Survey.” The purpose of this survey would be to examine the effectiveness of a police/community event and analyze the trust that the resident participants have in the police department. This survey would be for residents who are twelve years of age or older and interact with police officers at an event. The Community Interaction Event Survey will be taken immediately after the event or within a short period of time from the event taking place. Those who attend the event can be asked to provide an email address on a sign-in sheet and receive an email invitation to complete the Community Interaction Event Survey after the event takes place. This survey can be on an electronic platform such as Survey Monkey. Also, tablets can be available after the event for anyone who wishes to complete the Community Interaction Event Survey on-site. It would be important to have someone available to assist persons with using the tablet, as not all persons will be comfortable or confident with using a tablet.

click on image above to open survey in a new page in larger size


Some examples of police/community events where this survey would be used are as follows:

  • Beat Meetings
  • Block Clubs
  • National Night Out
  • Positive Loitering
  • Cook-outs
  • Prayer Vigils
  • Peace Circles
  • Neighborhood Clean-ups
  • Sports Leagues
  • Community Focused Safety Events
  • Citizens/Police Academy
  • Senior Safety Ambassador Training
  • Crime-free Business Seminars
  • Youth Forums
  • Teen Events
  • Child Safety Seat Courses
  • Domestic Violence Awareness Seminars
  • Police Explorer Events
  • Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE)
  • Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT)
  • Ride-along program
  • Gun Turn-in Program
  • Café Talks
  • Peer Jury Program
  • Officer Friendly Program
  • Various School Events
  • Parades
  • Festivals
  • Church Functions
  • Social Service Activities
  • Park District Activities



Police/Community Contact Survey (Bi-annual)

The second survey that was constructed by the author is titled the “Police/Community Contact Survey (Bi-annual).” This bi-annual survey collects data on the quality of police contacts of those aged 12 years or older with the goal of measuring police officer effectiveness concerning building trusting relationships with the community. This survey was modeled off the United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics Police-Public Contact Survey. The Police-Public Contact Survey (PPCS), as well as the Police/Community Contact Survey, provides detailed information on the nature and characteristics of face-to-face contacts between the police and public, including the reason for and outcome of the interaction. The PPCS interviews a nationally representative sample of U.S. residents age 16 or older as a supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey. To date, the PPCS has been conducted six times by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2017).

click on image above to open survey in a new page in larger size (second page below)


Respondents can take the Police/Community Contact Survey every six months. This survey can be given as a paper format or electronically through a software such as Survey Monkey. When done electronically using a software such as Survey Monkey, a unique identifier such as an email address will be needed to ensure that the survey is not taken multiple times by the same person within a six month period. Additionally, the different types of sampling procedures will need to be considered depending upon agency needs, such as random sampling, stratified random sampling, convenience sampling, snowball sampling, etc.

click on image above to open survey in a new page in larger size


The methods for one to know about and respond to the survey will be as follows.

  • Display advertisements
  • Web banner advertising with a web link   
  • Email Invitations
  • Social Media (The survey will be posted on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Facebook Messenger     
  • Police Department website or social media accounts (Embed the survey into a page on the site, have a survey invitation appear when people visit a specific page on the site, or have the survey appear when people visit a specific page of the site).
  • Survey “business” cards (Officers can pass out a business card with information about the survey on the card and a web address for the survey).
  • Computer-assisted telephone calls
  • Make the survey available at public libraries or other government entities.
  • Involve the media – television or radio personalities might mention on their programs and post on their websites

Both of the surveys utilized are quantitative because questions will be answered about relationships among measured variables with the purpose of explaining, predicting, and controlling phenomena (Leedy & Ormrod, 2005). Self-report or survey research will be used that requires a questionnaire, which is a written group of questions that are answered by a select group of research participants (Gay, Mills, & Airasian, 2006). Survey research involves acquiring information about one or more groups of people by asking them questions on a questionnaire and tabulating their answers using statistical indexes to draw inferences about a particular population (Leedy & Ormrod, 2005). Additionally, both surveys will assist in examining data over a long period of time. A longitudinal study is one where data is collected repeatedly over time to study changes in a population.

Once the two questionnaires were designed by the author, they were reviewed by an expert panel for validity. The degree to which a questionnaire measures what it is supposed to measure and allows for appropriate interpretation of data is validity (Gay et al., 2006). The expert panel that reviewed both questionnaires consisted of three members of a Police Department. The first expert has over sixteen years of police experience, a doctoral degree, over ten years of law enforcement management experience, counseling experience, communications experience, and teaching experience. The second expert has over fourteen years of law enforcement experience, a master’s degree from an Ivy League university, over ten years of managerial experience, and writing and policy experience. The third expert has seventeen years of law enforcement experience, a doctoral degree, one year of law enforcement management experience, curriculum development experience, and teaching experience in the procedural justice realm. All three experts willingly examined both surveys for validity because of the trusting relationships that this author has built with them over our law enforcement careers. All three experts gave open, honest, and objective feedback concerning both questionnaires because of their belief in the “Golden Rule.” Revisions were made to the survey instruments based upon the three Police Department members’ recommendations.

After the three members of the Police Department examined the two surveys, I had three University professors examine the two surveys for validity. The first professor has a law degree and taught law and criminal justice related courses at a medium sized private university in Minnesota for over 30 years. The second professor has a doctoral degree, teaches criminal justice related courses at a medium sized public institution in Illinois, and has prior law enforcement experience. The third professor has a Ph.D. in education, taught and progressed to an administrator at a small university in Tennessee, and worked in the education realm for over thirty years. All three university professors willingly examined both surveys for validity because of the trusting relationships that this author has built with them over time. Revisions were made to the survey instruments based upon the three university professors’ recommendations.


Analysis Of Surveys

The various ways that the two surveys (Community Interaction Event Survey and Police/Community Contact Survey: Bi-annual) might be administered were discussed previously. What has not been discussed is the multiple ways in which the data from the two surveys might be analyzed. This could be done by a Police Department’s Research and Development Division. Also, a Police Department may want to relieve itself from analyzing and interpreting the data and show objectivity by partnering with a university or an outside agency. Lastly, a Police Department may want to hire a consulting firm to gather, analyze, and interpret the data from the two surveys in order to distance themselves from the data, show transparency, and display their neutrality in the process.


Additional Units Of Measurement

In addition to analyzing and interpreting the data from the Community Interaction Event Survey and Police/Community Contact Survey (Bi-annual), a Police Department should consider examining the amount and type of police/community events and quantity of community interactions initiated by police officers at accountability meetings. The amount and type of police/community events can be used at accountability meetings by examining the data in a community event dashboard. Key questions can then be asked at accountability meetings about the purpose, goals, and outcomes of certain events. Additionally, data from the Community Interaction Event Survey can be brought into this discussion. Concerning the quantity of everyday positive community interactions initiated by police officers, the total amount of positive community interactions in a geographic area can be analyzed in comparison to crime data in these same geographic areas. 



Trust is the strong belief in the reliability, truth, ability, character, goodness, or strength of someone or something. The goal of this article is to measure police officer effectiveness concerning building trusting relationships with the community and influence the high-level police command staff to accept my ideas for measuring trust. This goal is in complete alignment with the universal police mission of serving, protecting, and working with the community to reduce crime. Additionally, this article and its ideas will challenge police leaders to step outside of the traditional law enforcement culture and start an evolutionary process that is more community centered. As Schein (2004) stated, the essence and challenge of leadership is the ability to see the limitations in one’s culture and evolve it adaptively. By having more objective, balanced, and effective performance measures in police departments, trust can be gained and sustained in all communities that are served in our great country.


Lieutenant Mark Sedevic, Ed.D. has served the city of Chicago for over 16.5 years with the Chicago Police Department and enjoys building positive police/community relationships. Lt. Sedevic is currently the watch operations lieutenant in the 7th District (Englewood). Over his police career, Lt. Sedevic has worked in patrol, gangs, the training academy, mobile strike force, and the Superintendent’s office. Lt. Sedevic successfully completed the Northwestern University Police Staff and Command course and is currently a Fellow in the University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy. Additionally, Lt. Sedevic is a proud U.S. Army Veteran. His previous article for, “Procedural Justice & Police Legitimacy Training in Chicago: Reaping the Benefits of The Golden Rule,” was published here in 2013.


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