Just one-in-ten people can name the new US-style police commissioner for their area, a poll has revealed.
The survey was carried out by the Electoral Reform Society, which said November's elections for police and crime commissioners (PCCs) in 41 force areas "failed both candidates and voters alike".
But Tony Hogg, Devon and Cornwall commissioner, said public awareness of the policing figurehead would "increase rapidly" when people "see the impact they make".
The advent of commissioners, which have the power to set force budgets and even hire and fire chief constables, was marred by a record-low turnout with only around one in seven bothering to go to the ballot box.
In its report, the Electoral Reform Society described November's poll as "an exercise in how not to run an election".
The campaign group claimed people were "left in the dark about who they could vote for", while the turnout was reduced because the election was held in the winter.
Mr Hogg is currently pushing for funds to keep more bobbies on the beat in the force area. The force has shrunk from 3,500 to 3,100 officers since Government cuts were imposed two years ago, and it had been forecast that numbers would decline even further by 2016, to just over 2,800.
But Mr Hogg has proposed a 2% council tax hike to maintain police officer numbers at more than 3,000.
Mr Hogg, who is close to being in the post for 100 days, said: "I understand that, after the relatively low electoral turnout, it will take a little time for PCCs to be instantly recognisable.
"In Devon and Cornwall, I have already embarked on a major programme of public engagement events, and this will increase into the summer now that important decisions about policing plan, budgets and the appointment of a new Chief Constable have been made. I have already met a considerable number of local people to explain what the PCC role is all about and listen carefully to their policing opinions and ideas. I'm looking forward to continuing that."
He added: "I really believe that the perception of Police and Crime Commissioners will increase rapidly when people see the impact they make."
But Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said Home Secretary Theresa May had pledged that commissioners would be "somebody you've heard of" after criticising "invisible" police authorities.
"But it turns out, after spending over £100 million on an unpopular policy, 90% of people don't know who their police and crime commissioner is," she added.
A Home Office spokesman said: "That number will only grow in the future as people see the real impact PCCs are already making in their areas, delivering on public priorities in tackling crime."