We study community policing in Sorsogon Province, Philippines, where a long-running anti-government insurgency challenges state legitimacy and competes with government law enforcement institutions for authority. We propose that one of the key challenges for the police in the Philippines is a lack of trust which prevents citizens from providing them with useful information about problems in the community. We also consider the relationship between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and local community safety officers called Tanods. We suggest that Tanods represent a sustainable, low-cost model for community policing that could be applied elsewhere, but that their efficacy could be enhanced through greater cooperation with the national police.
Intervention Date: July 2017 – July 2018
Our study involves two primary research arms, a community-oriented policing (COP) arm and a problem-oriented policing (POP) arm. The COP arm addresses the problem of trust and information flows between citizens and police. The Sorsogon PNP implemented a program called “One Sorsogon” which increased positive, informal contacts between officers and citizens aimed at explaining the role of the PNP in the community and soliciting suggestions for ways the PNP can help solve local problems. We randomize the roll-out of One Sorsogon across 298 villages in the province and conduct surveys before the program begins, after approximately half of villages are treated, and after all villages are treated. During One Sorsogon, we also attempt to lower the costs of providing the police with information by publicizing an existing but little-used SMS tips hotline. Police officers distributed thousands of stickers publicizing the hotline in a randomly-selected subset of villages. We then measure the effect through survey and administrative data.
The second treatment arm is problem-oriented policing, which addresses the way in which police use information they receive from citizens to address local problems. We create a POP task force for a random subset of villages in the province. Within treated villages, we further randomize the makeup of the task force between only national police officers, only tanods, or both. We measure the effect of the POP treatment through survey and administrative data.
- Citizens in villages which receive the COP treatment will express greater trust in the police, perceive the police as more legitimate, be more willing to contact the police when a problem occurs, and be less likely to experience a crime.
- Citizens in villages which receive the POP treatment will be less likely to experience a crime and perceive the police as more effective.
- Villages which receive the COP treatment will exhibit a greater decrease in crime rates over the course of the study than villages in the control group.
- Villages which receive the POP treatment will exhibit a greater decrease in crime rates over the course of the study than villages in the control group.
- Villages in which the POP task force includes both PNP officers and Tanods will experience a greater decrease in crime rates over the course of the study than villages in which the task force includes only PNP officers or only Tanods.
- The reduction in crime rates will be largest for villages that receive both the COP and POP treatments.