For the past decade, administration of justice majors
enrolled in the special projects course Police Community Relations have made important
contributions to local police departments seeking to gain accreditation from the
Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, a national law
enforcement accreditation agency.
Working with administration of justice faculty and Salve
Regina staff, students conduct objective, third-party surveys of residents and
business owners in various municipalities to determine their attitudes toward
local law enforcement.
Initiated by official requests from police chiefs in
municipalities throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the surveys are
designed to address the relationship between the police and the communities
they serve. The results of these community evaluation surveys encourage police
departments to solve existing problems in innovative ways and help them to
further define their roles.
As each department places a high importance on the accuracy
and level of research needed to produce this product, the responsibility being
given to the student researchers is of the highest degree.
Working with department faculty, students compose and
distribute a survey questionnaire focusing on the professionalism, helpfulness,
knowledge and courteousness of law enforcement personnel, along with additional
questions addressing resident quality of life issues. To further support their
research, students typically interview a cross-section of community members, to
include the youth and community leaders.
After compiling the data collected from the surveys and
interviews, students write reports on the communities' perceptions of their law
enforcers. Once the reports have been prepared, the student researchers present
their data to the police departments, respective local government officials
such as the mayor and/or city councils and the public, responding to their
questions regarding their research.
As police departments accredited by the Commission on
Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies are required to complete these
assessments every three years, this ongoing project meets Salve Regina's goal
to provide overall enhanced services to local law enforcement communities.
Police departments served by this project have included:
- Cranston, R.I.
- Cumberland, R.I.
- East Providence, R.I.
- North Smithfield, R.I.
- Pawtucket, R.I.
- Smithfield, R.I.
- Somerset, Mass.
- Warwick, R.I.
- Westerly, R.I.