The Effective Community Policing Program in a Crime-Hungry Society

Subject: Law
Pages: 5
Words: 1203
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: College

Abstract

For a long time, police have been viewed negatively by citizens; mostly as being bullies and rough. With time, authorities realized that for proper delivery of security services, the community had to participate in one way or another. Collaboration therefore between the community members and police in the maintenance of law and order gave birth to community policing. In this paper, proper guidelines on how an apt policing program should be established are given. Of essence is the fact that planning, creativity and availability of resources should see an efficient policing program.

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Introduction

Community policing refers to the collaborative step-by-step action plans between members of the community and law enforcers in preventing and combating crime in a locality that they live in (Fielding, 2002). The community needed in community policing may include individuals, business enterprises, media, non-governmental organizations and government agencies. In as much as the concept of community policing has far-reaching positive implications, it needs to be understood and implemented systematically otherwise chances of failure are heightened.

Historical background

Community policing historically speaking, gained a major facelift in the 1960s and 1970s. During this period the police departments were caught unawares by public unrest in form of protests, hostility and violence (Palmiotto, 2000). These protests were perpetrated by civil rights movements as a means of seeking an audience, and the police were unable to manage the uprising conflict. Lawmakers assumed the responsibility of community cooperation because of the following reasons: belief in professionalism in managing crime and conflicts, rotation of police officers as a strategy to curb corruption, centralized management and technological advancement in relation to transport and communication. It is during this era that demands were made by politicians and civic leaders for policing methods to be reexamined.

Research in Policing

Researches that were carried out courtesy of funds from the federal government, were a major boost in coming up with effective policing methods (Wisler & Onwudiwe, 2009). Through the findings, it was discovered that most policing methods and practices were ineffective in preventing and controlling crime. A lot of crime would go unreported since police were not directly in touch with the community; hence they recommended that appropriate ways were to be identified that would aid direct interaction between the police and the community they operate in.

Studies were also carried out randomly and it was discovered that patrols could not curb crime wholly. The most significant study that boosted community policing, was that of the community orientation policy project. In this study, police were expected to study and understand all the geographical features of that area, population issues and the call statistics of their regions. This technique was so impressive since most officers depicted a positive attitude towards their job and the community they were interacting with (Schaffer, 1980). The officers also locked heads with the major concerns of the community they served.

Definitional issues

Community policing is sufficiently achievable through two key components namely: community partnership and problem-solving (Wycoff, 2004). Community partnership may be defined as a collaborative effort between law enforcers and members of the community. This cooperation is geared towards identifying and preventing crime problems and also to win public trust by the police in order to access vital information from the community required for combating crime. In community partnership, all the stakeholders must feel that their interests and major concerns are taken into consideration. Those involved in community cooperation may involve individuals, social institutions, private investments, government agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Problem-solving

Another key component of community policing is problem-solving (Lyons, 2002). This involves critical examination of identified problems and hence establishes a framework necessary to prevent and eliminate crime. Because it is only through trust that a patrol officer may be able to understand the needs of the community deeply. An officer should understand the issues of major concern to the community he/she is serving to enable him/her to facilitate community policing through the problem-solving process. By using the problem-solving process to identify and address problems at the lowest level of the community, the whole community is guaranteed peace since the causes of crime will be tackled effectively.

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Effects on organization structures

Wisler and Onwudiwe (2009) insinuate that community policing has far-reaching effects on an organizational structure that has to be incorporated with time. For the effective operation of community policing, the organization should have a flexible structure. This may be achieved if patrol officers are allowed to assume managerial responsibilities while dealing with the community they are assigned to serve. It is the patrol officer that understands the region he/she operates and hence should be able to make and implement decisions independently.

Implementation of a community policing strategy

Implementation of community policing is a complicated process that requires creativity, skills and enthusiasm. Planning, communication, timing and the extent of change, form the most fundamental aspects of the implementation process (Wilson, 2006). Well-defined plans must be developed; this forms the blueprint of the implementation process. Up to date and relevant information and priorities need to be communicated to all the stakeholders. This enables the community and the law enforcers to know and understand what is expected of them. The extent to which change will affect the operations procedures and management styles of the agency is also an essential factor in determining the implementation process.

According to Rahtz (2001), several ways may be incorporated in the implementation of community policing. However, the focus is on planning and implementation of the policing simultaneously. In order to facilitate a smooth implementation, process the police agency should avoid frequent rotation and shifting of field officers. This gives time for an officer to interact more frequently with the community.

Supervision training and Assessment

Certain cannons need to be incorporated into the policing plan. The patrol officers should receive proper training that is consistent with the community policing procedures. According to Skogan and Hartnett (1997), a lot of concentration should be directed on evaluating performance and rewarding successful officers. Those officers and their supervisors, who have managed to operate effectively, should be awarded so as to motivate them. Performance should be evaluated on the basis of the ability of officers to forge community cooperation and apply problem-solving techniques.

The last aspect of community policing is assessing the progress of community policing. The process of assessment involves a thorough evaluation of whether the intended goals of community policing have been achieved or are in progress (Schaffer, 1980). The following criteria may be used for the assessment process: The first one is assessment for Efficiency.

Conclusion

Community policing is critical in maintaining law and order. Apt strategies have to be put in place so as to realize the full benefits of community policing. There needs to be proper planning that will incorporate all the stakeholders in the process and get all the necessary opinions. Research is essential in the policing process so that a proper understanding of the community being dealt with is properly established (Friedmann, 1992). The implementation process has its own basics that ought to be incorporated. Needleless to say assessment and evaluation of the success of the policing project are inevitable. Reviews have to be consistently carried out and subsequent adjustments made in areas where weaknesses are noted.

References

Fielding, N. (2002). Community policing. New York: oxford university press.

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Palmiotto, M. (2000). Community policing: a policing strategy for the 21st century. Maryland: Aspen publishers Inc.

Friedmann, R. (1992). Community policing: comparative perspectives and prospects. New York: St. Martins Press.

Schaffer, E. (1980). Community policing. London: Biddles Ltd.

Skogan, W. & Hartnett, S. (1997). Community policing, Chicago style. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rahtz, H. (2001). Community policing: a handbook for beat cops and supervisors. New York: criminal justice press.

Wilson, J. (2006). Community policing in America. New York: Routledge.

Wisler, D. & Onwudiwe, I. (2009). Community Policing: International Patterns and Comparative Perspectives. New York: Taylor and Francis Group.

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Lyons, W. (2002). The Politics of Community Policing: Rearranging the Power to Punish. Michigan: University of Michigan Press.

Wycoff, M. (2004). Community Policing In Madison: Quality from the Inside Out. An Evaluation Of implementation and impact. New York: Diane Publishing.