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Building Trust in a Reformed Security Sector: A Field Experiment in Liberia


Blair, Karim, and Morse (2016


A rigorous impact evaluation of the LNP’s “Confidence Patrol” community policing program, designed to build trust in the police and raise awareness about institutional reforms in the justice and security sectors.


36 communities randomly assigned to undergo the Police Support Unit patrolling program. During the 14-month long program, PSU officers:

1) Distributed informational posters about the Hubs;

2) Exchanged contact information with community leaders;

3) Held public meetings to discuss issues related to justice and security; and 4) Walked throughout the community in small groups to interact with citizens.


38 communities did not receive the treatment, and were included as a means of comparison to the the treatment condition.


1) The study finds that the program increased: -knowledge of the police and of Liberian law; -increased security of property rights; -reduced the incidence of some crimes, notably assault and domestic violence; and -increased reporting of crimes to the LNP.

2) The program did not, however improve trust in the LNP in general.

3)In addition, the program appears to have reduced satisfaction with the LNP’s handling of reported crimes, possibly because exposure to elite, newly-trained PSU officers raised expectations beyond the ordinary LNP’s capacity to meet them.


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