Do Police Make People Feel Safer?

It depends on whether you’re already in a safe place:

Increasing police patrolling is often assumed to be an effective means of enhancing general feelings of safety. This relationship between perceiving police and feelings of safety was tested by having police officers patrol during a field experiment (Study 1) and by manipulating the police presence in pictures of neighborhoods in a laboratory experiment (Study 2). Both studies show that in environments that are generally considered to be safe, feelings of safety are not increased by police presence. Moreover, men feel less safe when police are present compared with when police are absent. The results are discussed in terms of possible underlying mechanisms and implications for police patrolling.

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