Community-Oriented Versus Problem-Oriented Policing

Subject: Law
Pages: 4
Words: 886
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College

Community-oriented policing is a collaborative work of the community and the police to identify and solve an issue. This branch of policing was initially established as an alternative to the traditional models of policing and helped in establishing the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. The act put forward an objective of involving a hundred thousand community police to patrol the streets of towns and cities. Thus, when the priority of the traditional model of policing was in maintaining order and controlling crime, community-oriented policing focused on the provision of service and activities targeted at crime prevention (Zhao, He, & Lovrich, 2003, p. 700).

The main priority of COP is to redefine the connections that exist between a community and the police in order to establish tight collaboration in the instances where the identification of the community problem and its resolution is needed. In such a connection, the community becomes a “co-producer of public safety” (U.S. Department of Justice, n.d., p. 1). Furthermore, community-oriented policing involves a number of strategies that assume that policing practices should take place in cooperation with the community.

Pros and Cons

Like any practice, community-oriented policing has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include the community empowerment and the encouragement of the belief that police has a broad function that should be accepted in the community. Thus, the support from the public for the police increases the relationships within the community and establishes trust. Furthermore, the creation of programs like the Neighborhood Watch is beneficial for combining the efforts of the community and police in a common task to fight and prevent crime. Another advantage of community-oriented policing is the ability to analyze the crime patterns in thorough detail with the help of the community involvement.

The disadvantage of community-oriented policing is linked to the refusal of assistance on the part of those individuals that had negative encounters with the law enforcement. Furthermore, inhibited citizen involvement in crime prevention may ruin the collaboration with the police since people prefer to only get involved in crime prevention when it affects them directly (Strehlow, n.d., para. 4).


Two examples of community-based policing are illustrated by the San Diego Police Department. The Department has implemented a renewed program called Neighborhood Watch, which involved coordinators from the community, coordinators of the watch, and captains of street blocks that all work towards a unified goal of keeping crime under control. In addition, the Department has initiated the establishment of the Drug Abatement Response Team that identifies individuals with a history of drug abuse, investigates them, and then uncovers illegal drug houses (San Diego PD, n.d.a, para. 2).

Problem-Oriented Policing (POP)

Problem-oriented policing is a strategy implemented throughout the police department in order to solve reoccurring issues in the community. Police officers use all available information collected from a variety of sources in the course of the incident investigation to conduct a response plan to solve the problem (U.S. Department of Justice, n.d., p. 4). Their strategy includes the SARA problem-solving model, which encompasses the following four steps: Scan, Analyze, Respond, and Assess. Through the implementation of the SARA model, problem-oriented police offers are able to identify the issue with the input from the community, get information about the location of the crime, its victims, and suspects, go beyond the traditional tactics of enforcement and use new resources, and determine the plan’s effectiveness.

Pros and Cons

The main advantage of problem-oriented policing is that it offers an alternative and uninhibited approach towards crime investigation and its prevention. Furthermore, it is beneficial for establishing a view that policing should be targeted at the end result rather than the process. Another advantage is linked to community-oriented policing since the cooperative work of the law enforcement, and the community is beneficial for defining an issue and then finding an intervention for it. The primary disadvantage of POP is connected with the lack of professionally trained crime analysts that will facilitate the research and analyze the problem.


Examples of problem-oriented policing can again be illustrated by the San Diego PD. The police with the help from the community and the City Council organized a community association to deal with gang and drug issues in Meadowbrook and Skyline. Furthermore, the POP officers cooperated with the residents and managers of an apartment complex where drug activity was reported and, subsequently, evict the offenders and eliminate the drug dealing practices (San Diego PD, n.d.b, para. 3).

Challenges Officers Face when Implementing COP and POP

When implementing COP, the police officers are often challenged with the slow pace of moving away from the traditional policing methods since the way this shift occurs is still unclear. According to Greene (2000), there is a cultural conflict between street police officers and their administrators – the street police is focused on fighting crime while the administration is focused on building connections with the community (p. 330). Another challenge is the lack of the COP-focused training for police officers, which greatly affects their approach towards work. The challenge police officers face when implementing the POP approach is its disadvantage – the lack of professional training for crime analysts. Furthermore, POP is unstable since its implementation depends on the available resources, the commitment of police officers to their job, and the leadership qualities of the administration.


Greene, J. (2000). Community policing in America: Changing the nature, structure, and function of the police. Web.

San Diego PD. (n.d.a). Community oriented policing. Web.

San Diego PD. (n.d.b). Problem oriented policing. Web.

Strehlow, J. (n.d.). Advantages & disadvantages of community policing. Web.

U.S. Department of Justice. (n.d.). Community- and problem-oriented policing. Web.

Zhao, J., He, N., & Lovrich, N. (2003). Community policing: Did it change the basic functions of policing in the 1990s? A national follow-up study. Justice Quarterly, 20(4): 697-724.