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Updated 03/2014

Police and Law Enforcement Performance Standards and Levels of Service



The increasing emphasis being placed on performance measurement and performance auditing has prompted a concerted examination of what to measure and how to measure the delivery and effectiveness of law enforcement services. Coupled with declining government revenue, levels of service are also being examined. This web page provides links to research and resources to assist in establishing performance expectations, measuring performance and setting levels of service for law enforcement services in your community.

Measuring Service Performance

  • BJA Program Evaluation, Bureau of Justice Assistance Program Evaluation
  • Policing for People (Adobe Acrobat Document), Police Foundation, by Stephen Mastrofski, (Ideas in Community Policing Papers), March 1999
  • Police Levels of Service (Adobe Acrobat Document), from Level of Service Standards - Measures for Maintaining the Quality of Community Life, MRSC Report No. 31, 1994 - A dated but useful discussion of the issues involved in considering level of service
  • Police Benchmarking, Why comparisons don't equate to efficiencies, from
  • Benchmarking : A Method for Achieving Superior Performance in Law Enforcement Services, National League of Cities, 1996. 38 p. Although dated this publication may be helpful in conjunction with the more recent article cited above from (Available through MRSC Library Loan)
  • Officer-Per-Thousand Formulas and Other Policy Myths, by John Campbell, Joseph Brann, and David Williams, Public Management, March 2004 
  • COPS- Community Oriented Policing Services, United States Department of Justice, 03/2010 - Page with links to articles, guides and other resources for police performance measurement
  • Misrepresentation of Staffing Standards for Police, by David N. Ammons and Joshua S. Edwards, State and Local Government Review, Vol. 40, No. 3, 2008 (Available through MRSC Library Loan)
  • Toward Development of Meaningful and Effective Performance Evaluations, by Robert Trojanowicz, Director, National Center for Community Policing, and Bonnie Bucqueroux, Associate Director, National Center for Community Policing. National Center for Community Policing, Michigan State University, 1992
  • Staffing the "Small" Police Department: Taking Stock of Existing Benchmarks and Promising Approachest, Police Chief, 04/2012 - While agencies give much attention to recruitment and retention, they often overlook a more fundamental question: How many police officers does a particular agency need?

Community Surveys

Community Feedback Forms

Statistical Resources

Caution should be exercised when using statistics for comparative service measures. There are no state standards for levels of service for law enforcement. Service levels are generally a local policy decision. There are many variables for each community including physical and social characteristics. The security needs of one community may be very different than another.

Police Department Annual Reports

Need more information?

Feel free to Ask MRSC. Washington cities, counties, and our contract partners can call or email MRSC for more information and advice - free of charge.