Foot Patrol for Community Engagement

Engaging Communities One Step at a Time: Policing's Tradition of Foot Patrol as an Innovative Community Engagement Strategy


Police Foundation


Brett M. Cowell & Anne L. Kringen

The Police Foundation conducted a study following five agencies engaged in long-term foot patrol operations including: Cambridge (MA) Police Department, New Haven (CT ) Police Department, Kalamazoo (MI) Department of Public Safety, Evanston (IL) Police Department, and Portland (OR) Police Bureau. Each agency participated in a two-day site visit, including interviews and focus groups, which examined how they use foot patrol to build relationships with their community as well as their method of addressing crime concerns. Study findings suggest that foot patrol does facilitate relationship building between officers and citizens by improving approachability, familiarity and trust. However, a number of challenges were also identified including issues related to cost, performance evaluation, and internal conflict between officers. Foot patrol can lead to significant benefits, but requires significant planning and preparation prior to deployment.

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