Expectations of and satisfaction with the South African Police Service in the Potchefstroom area
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One of the most dominant features of South Africa's transformation over the past years has been and continues to be crime and violence. The effects of violence on a large proportion of the population as well as on the police service are significant and continue to have implications for the quality of life of South Africans. In recent years, community policing has been presented as a tool to enable police officers to control crime and to improve police citizen relations. To help with the successful implementation of community policing, it is necessary to determine the opinions of the community, for negative attitudes towards the police result in ill feelings, lack of respect, disorder and inefficient police functioning. Moreover, it is important for the police to know how satisfied or dissatisfied their clients are with their service delivery. Several studies suggest that how police feel about their job and their department can greatly affect their relations with the community and the quality of law enforcement service they provide. Some obstacles that may influence the above-mentioned aspects are the perceptions of the community, job stress, job satisfaction, burnout, and work engagement. The objective of this research was to determine the community's expectations and satisfaction with the SAPS in the Potchefstroom area, to compare the expectations of police members with those of the community and to determine the relationships among the job satisfaction, stress, burnout and work engagement of police members. A cross-sectional design was used to achieve the research objectives. The study population consisted of police members (N = 79) and community members (N = 505) in the Potchefstroom area. The measuring instruments included the Public Attitude Survey, the Minnesota Job Satisfaction Questionnaire, the Police Stress Inventory, the Maslach Burnout Inventory - General Survey and Utrecht Work Engagement Scale. Cronbach alpha coefficients, inter-item correlation coefficients and factor analysis were used to determine the internal consistency. T-tests and analysis of variance were used to determine differences between the sub-groups in the sample. Effect sizes were computed to indicate the practical significance of the results. The results of the study show that although the community and police's expectations correlate, some of the community's expectations are unrealistically high. Both the total group of community members and the police reported an average level of satisfaction with the service provided by the SAPS. The following significant relationships exist among the obstacles that influence the quality of service delivery of the SAPS. Satisfaction can be associated with work engagement, stressors, and burnout and stressors can be associated with burnout and work engagement. Burnout and work engagement can be considered as the antithesis of each other, and it may cause a slight relationship between these two concepts. Recommendations for future research have been made.