The Art of Policing

  • David John Farmer
Part of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety book series (CJPS)


To achieve results in police policy-making and administration, no less than in areas like medicine, science is invaluable but insufficient: art is needed. Faced with the need for solutions workable now in a particular location, the police practitioner is often disappointed by scientific or research results such as those discussed in the previous chapter. If so, he expects too much from them. Research usually offers the practitioner limited information about limited propositions. The information is limited in that the conclusions can be no more than probable and tentative. The Kansas City Preventive Patrol Study, for example, cannot offer certainty about the value of preventive patrol. In a world where the only scientific certainty is that there is no certitude, even a thousand replications cannot give more than greater probability. Research propositions are limited in that they usually speak to only a part of the practitioner’s problem. That rapid response time is unimportant in most police situations is important; but it is partial information for the practitioner surrounded by the complex plethora of problems associated with his particular patrol management situation. No matter how much the “science” of medicine develops, the “art” of the physician is essential at least in reconciling the needs of the patient and in tailoring the science to the complexities of the particular case. Similarly, the art of the police manager will always be required in working toward the ideal of the new form of police agency. Absent a police science as developed as medical science, the need for the practitioner’s art may well be greater in the police situation.


Police Department Police Agency Police Patrol Virginia Sample Queue Delay 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • David John Farmer
    • 1
  1. 1.Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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