The Effectiveness of Community Policing American Military University CMRJ302 U. S. Law Enforcement Abstract This paper will discuss community policing and its effectiveness throughout the United States, to include the development of community policing; the essential components of community policing, how community policing principles and methods are used, and how prevalent community policing is through the United States. Community policing is an effective model that can reduce crime while allowing the police to form partnerships with citizens and communities.
The communities that have embraced community policing enjoy good relationships with the police and have lower crime rates than areas that have only traditional policing methods in place. The Effectiveness of Community Policing Community policing as a model gained momentum in 1994, when Congress passed a Crime Bill that allotted $11 billion dollars to law enforcement agencies all over the United States in order to pay for 100,000 new officers, so that the model of community policing could take hold in the United States (Gaines & Kappeler, 2008).
As community policing grew within the United States, police departments wrangled with how to implement the principles that encompassed community policing, such as the philosophic dimension, the strategic dimension, and the programmatic dimension of community policing. All dimensions are necessary in order to have effective community policing; when partnered with citizen participation in the crime prevention process, community policing becomes a powerful method of crime prevention and crime suppression.
Citizens work closely with the police, and both sides get to know each other personally. Community policing has proven to be effective method of policing that engages the community to help solve the problem of crime. Defining Community Policing Community policing can be confusing when it comes to defining what it exactly is, since community policing means one thing to one person, and something else to another; this includes police chiefs and administrators in charge of making decisions on whether or not to implement community policing, at what level, and in what neighborhoods.
No department seems to do community policing exactly as another department does. Community policing, broadly defined, involves the inclusion of community members-citizens-in the strategic process of policing an area. Community policing requires that departments take a multi-faceted approach to policing overall (Clark, 2005). This involves the police mission changing from enforcing the law to that of maintaining order and working on establishing positive ties with the communities that the police are serving.
According to the United States Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services, community policing consists of three parts. Community partnerships develop between police, individuals, and organizations: Transforming the police organization into one that has a community-policing mission rather than a traditional policing mission. Problem solving using the scanning, analysis, response, and assessment, or SARA model is essential for community policing to be successful (United States Department of Justice, 2009).
Working with the citizenry is crucial to the modified police mission. Without citizen involvement, community policing would fail. Citizen’s involvement is the driving force behind community policing, since citizens are the ones that will report the crimes, provide intelligence to the officers, participate in neighborhood watch programs, and generally welcome the police into their communities as positive members of the community (Gaines, et. al. 2008). Community Involvement: Partnerships between Police and Citizens
Community oriented policing has at its heart the concept of forming partnerships with other agencies, individual citizens, community organizations, businesses, local news media, and anyone else interested in helping to improve the community they live in through improved police services. Community involvement is crucial to the community-policing model. Citizens in general need to know that the police are not as scary as once thought; like someone looking for any little offense that they can find. Community oriented police look at the overall picture, and ask one question; is there order within the community we serve?
If not, what needs to happen to ensure that order is established (USDOJ, 2009). Community oriented policing allows officers the latitude to make decisions based on the needs of the community, not necessarily just making arrests and enforcing the law. Police can also become involved with others in the community such as probation, in order to help track probationers in the community. They might work with legislators to better the community through different laws, work with social services and child services in order to help a neighborhood that has problems with children not receiving adequate services such as school, food, or medical care.
In this case, the officer’s skills of observation help make a decision that benefits the community as a whole (USDOJ, 2009). Citizens can also make their opinions known to the police through town hall types of meetings in which the police and citizens can meet up in order to problem solve together. Police might collaborate with non-profit groups in community efforts to fight crime; groups such as the United Way and Boys and Girls Town have programs available to help disadvantaged youth that may be on the verge of engaging in criminal behavior. Police can also participate in the school systems through programs such as G.
R. E. A. T. , which is Gang Resistance Education and Training, an officer-facilitated program that helps youth to stay away from gang involvement, while presenting the police in a positive light, helping to dispel the myth of the officer as being the killjoy and rule enforcer of the neighborhood (USDOJ, 2009). Private businesses have a lot to gain by forming positive partnerships with police. Businesses need and want to have a safe community. No one will shop or patronize a business in an unsafe community, other than the residents living there. Businesses tend to move from such areas if possible.
By forming partnerships with police and supporting community policing, business owners take ownership in their own community. Business owners are often in a position to see a lot of what is going on in a neighborhood as well, making them a good source of information for police, creating a win-win situation. The media is another entity that the police would do well to work with. Community policing efforts and their positive results broadcast to the entire community via the media outlets, such as the local news channel on television, radio, internet, and newspapers.
Police want positive media relations; negative media relationships make policing very difficult, since the police will always be portrayed as the bad people that are persecuting innocent citizens. Media elements hostile to law enforcement do nothing to help their communities, unless they are actually exposing corrupt cops in action. In some cases, negative media attention could make a neighborhood dangerous for police to enter. Positive relationships benefit all parties, cops and media alike (USDOJ, 2009). Community policing also relies on organizational structures forming around the principles of community policing.
Officers need autonomy on the job in order to be effective at community policing. Policy changes are necessary in order to support officers that practice community policing. All moves and decisions made by an officer need the support of departmental policy, ideally. Decision-making belongs to the individual officer whenever possible, to allow for the greatest amount of options possible to solve the problem they encounter. Such autonomy for individual officers requires that their administration, from the chief on down, all subscribe to the principles of community policing, and support their officers in the decisions they make in the field.
Problem solving capabilities increase when officers can be pro-active during or even before a situation may arise. Pro-active policing can help prevent crimes. The use of the SARA model, or Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment model, helps the officer to logically identify issues and come up with solutions that benefit the police mission and the community (USDOJ, 2009). Police also must take into consideration the opinion that the public holds concerning police actions. Satisfaction with services is an indication of successful community policing.
Some departments send out opinion surveys to citizens with the goal of improving services to the community, rather than planning strategy based only off arrests made in a particular area. Citizen Police Academies: Are They Effective In Promoting Positive Relations with Police? Citizen police academies are abbreviated courses in police work meant to show the average citizen what it is the police do, to provide some insight into the world of police work. Citizens that go through such academies tend to look favorably upon police in general more than someone that never experienced a citizen’s academy (Brewster, Stoloff, Sanders, 2005).
Just as officers on the streets try to learn more about the citizens they serve, citizens also need to take a look at what the officer patrolling their neighborhood does, what sort of stresses are endured, and what type of training makes an officer act as they do. Citizen academies can form a basis of understanding between citizens that may have been previously hostile to police through misunderstanding. Citizen academies also allow citizens to understand what types of information an officer may be looking for when on patrol, and can assist the police by reporting incidents or suspicious activities in a timely manner.
Alert and knowledgeable citizens are the front line of security within their communities; police cannot be everywhere at once. Citizen academies allow the citizen to get a taste of police work, helping them to understand what cops have to do, and acting accordingly when needed. Citizens that have gone through a citizen’s academy tend to defend the actions of police more than people that never experienced a citizen’s academy; they also are more willing to call police in order to report problems in their local neighborhood and community, and are more cooperative in general with police (Brewster, et. l. 2009). These results correlate directly to having had the opportunity to attend a citizen’s police academy. Citizens attending one of these academies who had not volunteered to work with the police in the past now did-at a 9 percent did volunteer work for the first time ever with a police department; an increase compared to those who had not attended a citizen’s academy. Forty eight percent of all participants also began to describe what they had learned to friends and family, which helps to quash the stereotypes of police and police work (Brewster, et. al. 2005).
Citizen’s academies help support the concept of community policing, since citizens that have an understanding of police work are more likely to support the police, and more likely to provide information to the police when necessary (Brewster, et. al. 2005). Private Security and Community Policing Community policing relies on citizens to provide information concerning crime and suspicious circumstances in order to function well. Trust is built mutually among police and citizens, making community-policing work well. Private security is another area that affects community policing.
Private security acts as paid eyes and ears for an area or business, with the primary duty of observing activity and reporting any suspicious circumstances to law enforcement. Private security makes the job that police have a bit easier; this mainly happens because, as in the routine activities theory, a capable guardian exists in places that normally would have no one available. Lack of a capable guardian makes crime possible (Gaines, et. al. 2008). Police and private security, like police and citizens groups, need to form relationships in order to function in unison for the common goal of crime prevention.
Private security must understand their role completely, knowing that they are not the police, but the eyes and ears for the police should the need arise. Problems with Community Policing While community policing seems to do a better job of crime prevention than the traditional police model, community policing is not without its problems. Community policing makes crime less of a fearful thing to deal with for citizens. Authors David Weisburd and John Eck, upon conducting a study of community policing and crime reduction, discovered that while fear of crime dropped, there was no evidence that community policing alone reduced crime.
Community policing attached to problem-oriented police principles and concepts proved more effective than community policing alone did (Weisburd, Eck. 2004). Community policing done without adequate support from the top administrators and citizens will fail. Management and supervisory staff must be trained in community policing strategies and implement them within their organizations. Police officers see what their leaders do; if the leaders choose to lead by example, they will embrace community policing and accept the concept freely.
Citizens must also be educated in knowing that crime is not always a problem easily dealt with by making arrests and sentencing people to prison; sometimes, there are deeper social issues at hand, such as poverty, unemployment, and drug addiction (Gaines, et al 2008). Community policing, when combined with problem oriented policing, becomes very effective in crime prevention while helping communities to thrive. Drug dealers move out, law-abiding citizens take their neighborhoods back, crime rates drop. Community policing has proven to be effective method of policing that engages the community to help solve the problem of crime.
Making the policies that encompass community policing go from paper to use in real-life is the difficult part. References Brewster, J. , Stoloff, M. , & Sanders, N. (2005). Effectiveness of citizen police academies in changing the attitudes, beliefs, and behavior of citizen participants. American Journal of Criminal Justice: AJCJ, 30(1), 21-VIII. Retrieved April 16, 2011, from Criminal Justice Periodicals. United States Department of Justice (USDOJ), Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. (2009). Community policing defined(e030917193). Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
Gaines, L. K. , & Kappeler, V. E. (2008). Policing in America (6th ed. ). Newark, NJ: Anderson Publishing Company. Walsh, W. , Donovan, E. (1989). Private security and community policing: evaluation and comment. Journal of Criminal Justice, 17(3), 187. Retrieved April 16, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 6130613). Weisburd, D. & Eck, J. (2004). What can police do to reduce crime, disorder, and fear? Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 593, 42-65. Retrieved April 16, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 676313341).