Community Satisfaction With Policing on Guam

Published date01 August 2022
Date01 August 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
2022, Vol. 38(3) 311 –329
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/10439862221096955
Community Satisfaction
With Policing on Guam
Loene M. Howes1, Danielle Watson2,
Vanessa Ryan2, John J. Rivera3,
and Ronald L. McNinch-Su3
Guam is a Pacific Island in Micronesia with a complex colonial history. Strategically
located, Guam is an unincorporated territory of the United States and critical
military asset. Policing on Guam is influenced by external stakeholders and budgetary
limitations. Recently, a community policing model was introduced to better meet
community needs and expectations. This study explored the relevance of predictors
of satisfaction with police service provision in the Guamanian context. Residents of
Guam (n = 701) participated in a survey that included demographic characteristics,
community context, and police–citizen interactions. Satisfaction with police service
provision was predicted by age and perceptions of procedural justice, police
performance, and police legitimacy. Higher income predicted lower satisfaction.
The findings highlight the importance of police legitimacy and related constructs for
satisfaction with police service provision on Guam. Initiatives that focus on police
performance and procedural justice may help improve satisfaction with police service
provision on Guam.
Guam, policing, satisfaction, community policing, procedural justice
1University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia
2Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
3University of Guam, Mangilao, Guam
Corresponding Author:
Loene M. Howes, School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 22, Hobart, Tasmania
7001, Australia.
1096955CCJXXX10.1177/10439862221096955Journal of Contemporary Criminal JusticeHowes et al.
312 Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 38(3)
Policing in Pacific Islands is subject to complex challenges, such as the legacy of
colonial histories, limited budgets, and misalignment of donor objectives with local
needs. However, the manifestation of such challenges in specific contexts is unique.
Across the Pacific, various arrangements shape police training, budgets, and service
provision. Community members may acknowledge resource limitations, but neverthe-
less expect a high standard of service delivery (see, for example, Howes et al., 2021).
Gaps between expected and actual service can impact negatively on community satis-
faction with police service provision. One approach that has the potential to improve
community satisfaction is community policing (Gill et al., 2014) because it is charac-
terized by collaboration and partnerships with other agencies and the community more
broadly (Gill et al., 2014). It focuses on community engagement strategies, organiza-
tional transformation, and problem solving (Office of Community Oriented Policing
Services, 2014). It is associated with greater perceived police legitimacy (Gill et al.,
The present paper reflects a growing body of research that considers community
satisfaction with police service provision in the global south, including in Pacific
Islands contexts (see, for example, Watson et al., 2021). As a Pacific Island territory
with a complex colonial history, culturally and ethnically diverse populations, and
strategic U.S. military value, Guam presents an interesting site for a case study. The
Guam Police Department (GPD) recently introduced a community policing model,
incorporating a range of initiatives designed to build police–community relationships
(Pang, 2016). This paper first gives a brief overview of research on community satis-
faction with police service provision before discussing the Guamanian context and
considering the specificities of policing on Guam. It then outlines the methodology
and findings from a survey of community satisfaction with policing on Guam. The
paper concludes by discussing the implications of findings and suggests promising
avenues for further development within the community policing paradigm, given the
challenges of police reform in Pacific Island contexts.
Community Satisfaction With Policing
Although community policing has been implemented differently in different contexts
(Fleming, 2010), consultation is a hallmark of the approach and one way to foster posi-
tive police–community relationships. Research on satisfaction with police service pro-
vision is consistent with a community policing paradigm because it seeks community
consultation to identify issues.
A broad range of variables has been found to predict satisfaction with policing. In
a recent meta-analysis of research on community satisfaction with police service pro-
vision, Bolger et al. (2021) grouped predictors as demographic characteristics, police–
citizen encounters, and neighborhood or community context. Regarding demographic
characteristics, older people, those in the majority ethnic group/s, and women tended
to be more satisfied with police service provision, although previous studies included

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