IACP Releases Executive Officer Survey Findings: “Law Enforcement’s Leadership Role in the Advancement of Promising Practices in Juvenile Justice”

The IACP has completed a nationwide survey of nearly 1,000 law enforcement executives to assess the current state of attitudes, knowledge and practices regarding how law enforcement agencies deal with juvenile offenders and collaborate with juvenile justice system partners.  Detailed survey findings are available on the IACP website.

The IACP conducted the survey from February to April 2013 with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, as part of a multiyear initiative to increase the leadership role of state and local law enforcement executives to effectively address systemic juvenile justice issues as well as improve local responses to juvenile offenders.

The departments that completed this survey are largely representative of agencies across the United States, with the majority of agencies employing fewer than 50 officers.  Agencies from 49 states and Washington, DC participated.

IACP’s detailed report on the survey findings includes information on the following:

  • Law enforcement leaders’ knowledge, understanding & beliefs about the juvenile justice system
  • Law enforcement leadership practices
  • Agency resources & data collection
  • Community resources & collaboration
  • Diversion & other alternatives to formal processing


The survey report highlights successes as well as challenges that many agency leaders confront in their effort to improve their response to juvenile offenders and at-risk youth.  Throughout the survey, law enforcement leaders articulate clear support for the goals and assumptions that underlie the juvenile justice system – namely a recognition that youth are different from adults, and that public safety and the needs of individual youth are best served through approaches that recognize those differences. They believe that the focus must be on rehabilitating young offenders and preventing them, whenever possible, from sinking deeper into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

And yet the leaders who participated in this survey are not always sure how to effectively implement these concepts, who to best partner with, and specifically what their leadership role would look like.

  • Although 79% of survey respondents believe that law enforcement leaders have a significant role to play in the juvenile justice system, just one in five said that they or others in their agency currently play a significant role in their local juvenile justice system.
  • Many agency leaders are concerned that rates of juvenile crime might be increasing in their community, yet just 45% collect and analyze data specific to juvenile crime.
  • Despite overwhelming support for the existence of a separate juvenile justice system – favored by 88% of survey respondents – fewer than a quarter of executives believe their local juvenile justice system improves public safety, and fewer than a third believe it promotes rehabilitation.


The survey gathers a statistically reliable, national scope of information on police perceptions and practices relative to the juvenile justice system and response to juvenile offenders, with several interrelated aims:

  • Serving as a research foundation for all future research and policy efforts by IACP and our partners.
  • Informing the design and focus of the National Summit on Law Enforcement Leadership in Juvenile Justice, held in September 2013 in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation.
  • Guiding the development of an IACP Juvenile Justice Leadership Institute (planned for 2014).
  • Providing a benchmark that will allow IACP to measure the impact of its work.
  • Supplying cutting edge information to a broad spectrum of juvenile justice and criminal justice professionals.
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