Source: (1996) American Behavioral Scientist 39(5).

Proactive public administrators in modern American society are challenged to know and respond to the needs of their diverse constituencies if they are to direct responsive government agencies. However, more than just knowing citizens’ needs and responding in kind unilaterally, local government in the community era is expected to engage the public in participative governance. This article describes how one such entity – the police department – is changing with regard to a philosophical shift in how it must conduct business in the future, and in turn, how it might employ community-oriented research methods to assess its progress and effectiveness among the citizens it serves.