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Publication Requests for Police Assistance, 2011

Matthew R. Durose, Lynn Langton, Ph.D., Bureau of Justice Statistics

September 24, 2013    NCJ 242938

Examines the characteristics and experiences of persons age 16 or older who contacted police to request assistance in 2011. The report describes the perceptions of residents about police behavior and response during these encounters. It details requests for police assistance to (1) report a crime, suspicious activity, or neighborhood disturbance; (2) report a noncrime emergency, such as a medical issue or traffic accident; and (3) seek help for a nonemergency or other reason, such as asking for directions or help with an animal problem. Data are from the 2011 Police-Public Contact Survey (PPCS), a supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which collects information from a nationally representative sample of persons in U.S. households on contact with police during a 12-month period.  This is a companion report to Police Behavior during Traffic and Street Stops, 2011.


  • An estimated 1 in 8 U.S. residents age 16 or older, or 31.4 million persons, requested assistance from police at least once, most commonly to report a crime, suspicious activity, or neighborhood disturbance.
  • About 85% of persons who requested police assistance were satisfied with the police response.
  • No statistical differences were found between the percentage of Hispanics (86%), blacks (85%), and whites (83%) who reported a crime or neighborhood disturbance and felt the police were helpful.
  • About 9 in 10 persons who requested police assistance reported that they were just as likely or more likely to contact the police again for a similar problem.

Press Release
Full report (PDF 952K)
ASCII file (23K)
Comma-delimited format (CSV) (Zip format 33K)

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National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)
Police-Public Contact Survey (PPCS)

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