Community Policing: Term Review and Analysis

Subject: Law
Pages: 9
Words: 2339
Reading time:
9 min
Study level: Master


Informal social control denominates customs, traditions, norms, and other social values inherited by the individual. It is exercised by a society without explicitly stating these rules and is expressed through customs, norms, and mores.

Informal sanctions may include radical, sarcasm, criticism, disapproval, and community policing. Community policing or neighborhood policing is a policing strategy and philosophy based on the notion that community interaction and support can help control crime, with community members helping to identify suspects and bring problems to the attention of the police and this can be a good idea to the society since it’s the people in that society who actually identify these suspects since they stay with them and know them and hence effectively help to reduce crime in our societies.

With community policing, the police and the police department are involved as members of the community. Cities and countries that subscribe to this philosophy tend to do much more community work than traditional police departments. This often includes having more police officers that walk the beat as opposed to driving around in police cars. The basic idea is to create bonds of trust and reliance between the police and the republic. The approach requires officers to be open-minded, unbiased, and sensitive to the concerns and problems of the community they are operating in also known as the new policing paradigm.

Even if officers do not agree with a complainant’s viewpoint, they should try to listen and understand the problem. Police should display empathy and compassion with sincerity, not in a rehearsed way. They must also develop skills in planning, problem-solving, organizational, interpersonal communication, and perhaps most importantly critical thinking (United States National Criminal Justice Reference Service 1990)

As the heart of police transition to community policing is the question. How do the police identify and deliver high-quality service to the community? In the past, the delivery of police service was accomplished in a reactive and unscientific manner, with little attention given to proactive policing. Today, the efficient delivery of police services requires a systematic process to assess the needs of the community they are operating in; translate those needs into police services and programs that can be efficiently and effectively delivered to the community. In this way, the police are becoming more sensitive to the needs of the community. They also have a better understanding of how their work affects the social environment (United States National Criminal Justice Reference Service 1990)

Criminal justice system

Criminal justice is the system of, practices and organizations used by the federal state, and local governments directed at maintaining social control and order in societies deter and controlling crimes, and sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties. The primary agencies charged with responsibilities are law enforcements that are the police and the prosecutors, courts, defense attorneys, and local jails and prisons, which administer the procedures for, arrest, judging, adjudication, and punishment of those found guilty. When processing the accused through the criminal justi8ce system, the government must keep within the framework of laws and protect individuals’ rights. (Fielding 2005)

The pursuit of criminal justice is like all forms of justice, fairness, or process especially the pursuit of an ideal. Throughout history, criminal justice has taken on many different forms, which often reflect the cultural mores of society.

In the United States, criminal justice policy has been guided by the 1967 president’s commission on law enforcement and administration of justice, which issued a groundbreaking report on the challenge of crime in a free society. This report made more than 200 recommendations as part of a comprehensive approach towards the prevention and fighting of crime. The president’s commission defined the criminal justice system as the means for a society to enforce the standards of conduct necessary to protect individuals and the community (Fielding 2005)


A society is a grouping of individuals, which is characterized by common interests and may have distinctive culture and norms thus the meaning of society is closely related to what is considered to be social. Implicit in the meaning of society is that its members may share some mutual concern or interest, a common objective or a common objective. It is then that in these societies that order must be maintained in order for the community to live in peace and hence need of the police for this order to prevail

Social orders in these societies must prevail and social order is a relatively stable system of institutions, the pattern of interactions and customs, capable of continually reproducing at least those conditions essential for its own existence. (Lesnki, 1974)

An exemption to the idea of values and norms as social orders keepers is deviant behavior. Not everyone in a society abides by a set of personal values or the groups’ norms all the time. For this reason, it is necessary for a society to have authority. In societies, those who hold positions of power and authority are among the upper class (Lesnki, 1974)

Community policing

It is due to the deviation of society’s norms and values that community policing has become an issue in most societies. The vision of policing with the community has five key principles that are service delivery, partnerships, problem-solving, empowerment, and accountability. A central goal of the COPS office is to help law enforcement agencies implement and enhance community policing. It helps promote and support organizational strategies to address the causes and reduce the fear of crime and social disorder through problem-solving tactics and police-community partnerships. In an effort to help discern what community policing is, their interactions with the citizens are central to this philosophy.

Community policing focuses on crime and social disorder through the delivery of police services that include aspects of traditional law enforcement swell as preventing, problem-solving, community engagement, and partnership. As a result, community policing requires the police and the community to join together as partners as a cause of both identifying and effectively addressing these issues. (David, 2004)

Effects of community policing

Community policing is promising because it builds working relationships with citizens resulting in improved delivery of police service, improved police/community relations, and natural resolution of identifiable problems. They can better address problems and concerns of the community because it is a proactive, decentralized approach with a strong commitment to crime prevention, reducing crime, disorde3r, and fear of crime.

By involving the same officer in the same community on a long-term basis, it leads to higher police visibility and long-term relationship between officers and the community, which develop trust and cooperation among residents. It also requires a different police attitude. The effects of community policing are, the initial increase in reported crimes, reduce fear of crime, increased citizen confidence and sense of empowerment, increased job satisfaction for police, and decrease in targeted crimes. (Meesig, 2006)

Community policing contributes to improving the overall racial climate in both obvious and subtle ways. A comparison of traditional policing and community policing shows that community policing changes the fundamental nature of the relationship between people and their police to one of mutual respect and trust. Traditional policing focuses on reducing crime by arresting the bad guys. Not only does this approach risk demonizing everyone who lives in high crime neighborhoods, but it also requires relying on a rapid response which makes it virtually impossible for the police to avoid been strangers to the community.

This model suffers from reducing the law of law-abiding citizens in the community primarily to that of passive stander (Meesig, 2006) Community policing takes a different approach to crime, drugs, and disorder, one that can augment and enhance traditional tactics such as rapid response and undercover operations. It empowers average citizens by enlisting them as partners with the police in efforts to make their communities better and safer places in which to live and work.

Research conducted on the flint foot patrol experiment of the late 1070s a precursor of today’s community policing showed a dramatic improvement in the race relations between foot patrol officers and minorities. The police often assume that people worry most about the serious index crimes of murder, rape, and robbery, only to find that people in the community care more about a totally different list of concerns. It is not that people fail to grasp the horror of serious crimes. Rather it is that they recognize that their individual risk of falling victims to those crimes is relatively small compared to the problems of disorder and low level of crime. (Meesig, 2006)

Community policing as a reform in police philosophy

Community crime prevention and community policing are the main reforms in crime prevention strategies, developed during the last years. Both have implications for police management and the policy of policing. While the reform itself is targeted towards crime and public order, emphasizes police-community relations and local crime analysis and environmental analysis, the background analysis is based on a distinct set of values within the police force and the understanding, that crime prevention is a task for all members of a community. Community policing is a comprehensive approach suggesting a multicausal view of crime and a multidimensional approach to crime prevention.

Problem-oriented policing, team policing and finally, community policing are terms reflecting the changes in the philosophy of policing during the last years. This change is a tremendous challenge for the internal system of the police, because the main structures of leadership, as the structure and the form of the organization have to be changed. This includes attitudinal, organizational, and sub-cultural changes. The keywords are participation, decentralization, motivation in working together as a community to solve problems of crime, and related social ills. (Fielding 2005)

Theory of community policing

It is obvious we can no longer adhere to traditional forms of police work. Over the last years, there has been a reappraisal of policing philosophy and the role of the police, which was more or less intensive or radical. Drivers of greater efficiency, ideas like new public management, and changes in workplace philosophies forced the police in most of the western demography’s to get away with the old-fashioned militaristic approach of policing.

At least since the 1980s, we had to learn that police do not and cannot effectively control crime or criminal structures and dangerous situations and that prevention through repression is rather ineffective. As a result, forces began to devise plans to evaluate police performance through local crime surveys and through police activity surveys with the view of improving the quality of policing at the local level

In the early 1980s, the outlines of a new direction for policing know community policing began to emerge and take root throughout the United States and many other countries. Since then, interest in community policing has grown rapidly and police in many jurisdictions have developed and implemented some form of community policing. Police operations were more visible, increasing police accountability to the public; operations were decentralized to meet the needs of various neighborhoods and constituencies.

Citizens were encouraged to take more initiative in preventing crimes and become partners with the police, improving relations between the police and the public. Underpinning the theory of community policing is a belief that the regular exchange of information between residents and law enforcement personnel is essential to effective policing. Reflecting this, the proposal for the Mountain View project promised the establishment of a community advisory board. As the project evolved, the actual push to form a board came initially from the APD officers involved. The board proposed the discussion on the possible effects of the welfare cuts on the Mountain View community and the implications for policing. (Gaeson, 1989)

Disadvantages of community policing

Despite the great effort and good intentions, not all community police projects will succeed and hence community policing has some disadvantages it requires extensive planning and preparation by the police agency. A specific plan must be developed. Short and long-term plans must be established and resources must be assigned. It requires extensive training of police officers. Officers assigned to an interface and work with citizens group must play many roles. They should be trained in supervision principles; they must be trained to work with the community in an s partnership role. They must know supervision principles, the law, social forces, and the nature of the effects of crime. Their knowledge must range from criminology to social work. If community policing fails the community will fault the police agency. (Gaeson, 1989)

Advantages of community policing

Despite the view disadvantages of community policing, it has benefits, which include, it gets citizens involved in their own security, and police organizations cannot fully protect the citizens. Citizens must get involved in protecting themselves by a joint effort with the police. It also establishes a corporation in a community in that when the community becomes involved in addressing common problems, a spirit of unity is created.

Corporations and common purposes are created and this leads to corporative efforts in other non-law enforcements issues e.g. neighborhood cleanups, building parks and recreational areas, and helping the elderly in quality of life efforts. Greater results can be obtained with the same police agency resources. With the assistance of the community in terms of money, reporting procedures and information, police efforts are better focused (Gaeson, 1989)


It is due to the deviation of society’s norms and values that community policing has become an issue in most societies. The vision of policing with the community is to ensure that social orders in these societies prevail and hence as a result, people are in a position to live in peace and harmony. In order for community policing to succeed, it requires total support from the following, police i.e. the police organization must commit the appropriate resources to this program. Small and large businesses benefit a lot from community policing hence need to support them by leading monitory and other resource support and hence greater results can be achieved with the same police agency resources with the assistance of the community in terms of money, reporting procedures and information to the police agency.


David, A. (2004). The effects of community policing on complaints against officers. Springer Netherlands.

Fielding (2005). Howard journal of criminal justice, Volume 44, Number 5.Blackwell publishing.

Gaeson, S (1989). Designing out crime: Crime prevention through environmental design. Australian institute of criminology.

Lesnki, G. (1974). Human societies: An introduction to Macrosociology; New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Linda, R (1999). Leadership effectiveness in community policing, Bristol, Indiana: Wyndham Hall Press.

Meesig, R (2006). The effects of community policing and technology on index crime clearance rates. Royal York, Toronto.

United States National Criminal Justice Reference Service (1990). Community Policing. United States, National Institute of Justice. Washington D.C.