Community policing also commonly known as neighborhood policing simply defined as the involvement of the community in the maintenance of order, security, and general upkeep of the society. Usually, community policing is based on the principle that the involvement of the community in policing would help a great deal in controlling crime.
The argument forwarded by the protagonists of this principle is that since the community is on the ground it becomes easy to identify and flash out criminals. They also argue that while on the ground the community is able to identify various issues especially those that contravene the law and bring them to the attention of the police.
This approach recognizes the need to share the responsibility between the police and the community in order to have a better, safer society. The main aim of community policing is to establish some kind of partnership between the community and the police through which various issues involving crime and general security of the society are identified, discussed, and ways to solve them identified. (Cadora, 2002)
As already mentioned, for community policing to work there need to be some kind of understanding or partnership established between the police and the society whose aim is to enhance the security and upkeep order within the society. There also needs to be supplementation of police patrols with watchdog groups and private guards.
This is necessary because police patrols are most of the time not big enough to cover all areas. The private guards are therefore necessary to supplement the work that the police carry out. Another effectiveness of the private guards is that it is difficult for criminals to identify them as they are not uniformed as the police and therefore flashing them out becomes a rather easy task than it would have been for the ordinary police. (Howard, 2001)
Community policing is also aimed at protecting the very most vulnerable groups especially children and women against violence and abuse. For community policing to work, there also needs to be the creation of awareness especially to the society of the need to have community policing. This will help increase their participation in the whole exercise of community policing and hence better results achieved.
Thorough research on the issue also reveals that there is a need to establish a victim support center where the initiative of community policing shall work and also having response units to respond to emergency cases. (Cadora, 2002)
There have been proposals that making sure that the streets are lighted will help reduce crime. The argument is that the lack of lighting in the streets has played a major role in the promotion and enhancement of crime. Street lighting should therefore be a priority as one way of ensuring that the community policing initiative.
Both partners to the initiative who are the police and the community must have a commitment that must be sustained throughout to ensure the success of the initiative. Equally the same way there is shared responsibility there also should be some shared authority so that the society does not feel undermined. This way community policing is highly likely to be effective. (Howard, 2001)
Problem solving also needs to be based on consultations rather than impositions. This basically means that when a problem or an issue is identified the solution offered or proposed should be based on consultation rather than imposing solutions on the community. As already mentioned it is also important that the police give the community some portion of authority. The community should run most of the activities of community policing.
The means by which problems are to be solved should be one that shall be aimed at promoting peace, stability, and order. As already mentioned it is important that members of the public are made aware of their role in community policing. This helps to ensure that every partner both the police and the community does play their part as they should.
It is therefore paramount that members of the society know their role in community policing that includes: bring to the attention of the police any information that they consider important. For instance, any suspicion of an intention to commit a crime should be brought to the attention of the police as soon as it gets to the knowledge of the public. Information is the most vital tool in community policing and must therefore be provided when required (Howard, 2001)
As already mentioned the initiative of community policing is some kind of partnership or understanding between the public and police. Every party therefore must work closely with each other to ensure that good results are achieved. The public is therefore required to work closely with the police to ensure that the initiative is effective.
Victims of crime also should be supported and encouraged through counseling which is also the role of the members of the public. It is worth mentioning at this point that even though there is shared authority and responsibility between the community and the police the actions of the community must have a limit though.
This in essence means that there is some authority that the public cannot by law be allowed to possess. The public must keep all matters pertaining to the law to the police to deal with them through the legal system, as it should. They should never take matters into their own hands as this in essence means they would be contravening the law. (Nigel, 1995)
It must be remembered that control of crime and security enhancement begins with an individual. Society itself has a responsibility of ensuring that there is a prevalence of discipline among the members of the society. This is important because if the members of the society are contravening the law it hen proves difficult to flash out criminals since society is also a part of the criminal activities place.
Everybody in the society thus has a responsibility of ensuring that they maintain discipline and strict observance of the provisions of the law to ensure that the goals of community policing are achieved. It is also important that everyone becomes the keeper of each other to enhance the prevalence of safety and order. (Howard, 2001)
The police on the other hand also have a role to play to ensure the effectiveness of community policing. There must be constant communication and exchange of information. This helps each party remain updated with the latest and consequently able to determine the next step to take. The police must therefore constantly communicate with the members of the public ensuring to give them feedback of all the events and happenings.
Accountability and transparency are very basic yet essential virtues that the police must demonstrate to the public. There should not be any hidden or underground dealings done without prior knowledge of the community. Dialogue is also very important as it helps the police especially to identify the problems the society is facing and consequently take steps to provide a solution to that particular problem.
They should cultivate empathetic character so that they are able to understand the various problems and issues that society is facing and provide a solution. Listening and understanding in this case, therefore, is of the essence.
The police even while in collaboration with the community must not forget their major responsibility in a society that is the maintenance of law and order. They, therefore, are expected even when in partnership with the community to carry on their main objective.
The professional code of ethics that governs the behavior and general activities of the police must also be adhered to. This is in essence means that the police must maintain the high level of professionalism in carrying out their duties. (Nigel, 1995)
Having discussed in general what community policing is and its involvement I now turn my focus on the main topic. Having been hired as the new Chief of Police there is a lot of work that I am expected to do. It must be remembered that I got this position has placed a major emphasis on the need for community policing This paper has its main focus on the various steps I would take to ensure the success of the implementation of this program.
The first step is to identify a group that can actually form what is known as the Community Policing Forum. In my area of command, I have 150 junior officers under me. The total population depending on my services as the Chief of police is around 200,000. This means that I need to lay down strategies to spread my officers so that all areas have adequate security. It is important at this point to note that this program is quite sensitive as it deals and majors on the security and safety of society.
Having identified the right group to form the Community policing forum I will then need to identify specific issues and problems facing this particular society. Having identified the problems then together with my officers we will put various measures and strategies to ensure that solutions to the problems are found.
As already mentioned it is also very important that the community is made aware of the importance of the community-policing forum. I will therefore arrange to have sensitization workshops to create awareness to the members of the society on the need to have community policing in this particular area. My junior officers will be in charge of monitoring and evaluating the progress of this program.
It is also important to identify specific areas that are considered to be crime-prone. These are areas where crime and criminal activities, in general, are considered prevalent. I will therefore deploy my officers on the ground so that they can find out the most affected areas. The other very important step is to make attempts to identify and spot the criminals.
I am aware this will be a challenging and difficult task because criminals live among ordinary members of society. However, it is important that this is done to enhance security in the area. When we have successfully identified the criminals then we will now lay down strategies to be able to flash them out from society.
It is also important to find other issues that society may desire to have addressed. Another important factor worth mentioning is that having identified the criminals it is also very important that the activities of the criminals are followed and observed closely. This is in order to know the timings when they are likely to commit their lawless activities and the manner in which they carry out those activities. This serves the purpose of making work easier when it comes to flashing them out of the rest of society. (Nigel, 1995)
There are major guidelines that community policing relies on to be successful and which my officers and I will need to observe to ensure the great achievement of the initiative. Firstly there must be a commitment both we the police and the community we are serving to eliminate criminal activities in that particular area.
We’ll also be required to demonstrate transparency and accountability so that the society we are serving can have faith in our work. Unity between the police and the members of the public is of utmost importance. This ensures that there is a high level of confidentiality maintained and that any secret remains within the perimeters of the group. This helps a great deal in making the Community policing initiative a great success and its impact felt in society. This shall therefore be our utmost goal.
It must be mentioned at this point that community is not a way of lessening the burden or the responsibility that the law places on the police to maintain law, order in society. This is a point that I will need to make clear to my officers. Instead, it is viewed as an even more effective way of responding to the needs of society especially in regard to matters related to the security and safety of the society.
It is also meant to create a rapport between the police and the community. The police should not, therefore, neglect their work. Community policing in my view is intended to overcome mistrust and instead an environment of cooperation is created.
Community policing is not a single-day event but a process that needs time for its impact to be felt. I consider community policing to be effective as it brings together two very different groups, which are the civilian or the ordinary citizens and the members of the force to work together ensuring a better, safer society. I will also lay much emphasis on consultations. My officers even before giving a solution to any problem will need to consult with members of the society so as to know their opinions and views.
From the discussion above we realize that community policing is an initiative, which is of importance in every society. In conclusion therefore I believe that community policing is the most effective way to deal with crime and enhance security in this particular area.
Clear & Cadora, (2002) Community Justice, 1st edition, London, Wadsworth.
Fielding Nigel, (1995) Community Policing, New York, Oxford University Press.
Rahtz Howard, (2001) Community Policing, London, Criminal Justice Press.