Effective Policing In A Democratic Community

In a traditional model of policing, a police officer would generally respond to a call when a crime has occurred. After responding to the crime, the officer would write a report and hand over the investigation to a detective. Then the officer would return to his car and wait for another call reporting that another crime had occurred (Wellington, 2009). Thus the officer has minimal interaction with citizens within a community, hardly knows anyone in the area of operation nor do the citizens know the officers.

In this type of policing, there’s no strategy policing, there’s no strategy to try and prevent the crime from happening thus rendering it a sort of supply and demand type of policing (McGowan, 2008). Community policing, essentially, is about police involvement with the community through reorganizing police agencies and altering the daily activities of operational police officers.

The implementation of community policing has however resulted in community policing becoming ‘many things to many people’ thus, a proper definition is still elusive. It can however be said to be a philosophical as well as an organizational strategy whereby the basis of the philosophy is emphasis on efficient working partnership with the community (AIC, 2009). This paper will discuss how the two models could direct the response of the police in the case of a terrorist threat.

Response in a traditional model of policing In a traditional policing model, there is a tendency to assume that the police are the only ones who know about policing (Murray, 2003), in instances of terrorism threats or attack, the police would act upon the threat through stipulated methods and channels such as the patrol officer taking a call, reporting the incidence and then handing over the investigation to a detective.

The hierarchical chain of command means more time is taken in reaching a decision and in that time the threat may already have materialized simply because the decision making is centralized (Scheider, Chapman, 2003). Officers do not necessarily have a fixed or ‘owned’ neighbourhood and rely on calls put through the official communication system in identifying possible terrorist threats without calling on street-level knowledge (Weatheritt, 1988).

Police officers are most likely to come into contact with people involved directly or indirectly with terrorism and are certainly among the first responders to future threats of terrorism but are usually not free to follow leads or terrorism suspects which takes away the power to make decisions (and take responsibility for the decisions) which could be of great value in their response to a crisis (MacDonald, Williams, 2006).

Traditional policing, built upon a defensive culture and shrouded in a tendency towards craft secrecy (Murray, 2003), and the lack of familiarity with the community members where the threat is occurring might lead to the citizens withholding information which might otherwise have been made available to the police regarding the threat and this affects the way the officers respond to a terrorist threat (Dash, 2008).