To understand the effectiveness of community policing we first must understand the concept regarding community policing. Community policing is both a philosophy and an organizational strategy that allows the police and the community residences to work closely together in new ways to solve the problems, fear of crime, criminal disorder and at the same time increasing the community living conditions.
Community policing implies an agreement, almost like a formal contract, between the police and the community it serves. The concept breeds hope of overcoming wide spread crime at the same time preventing the outbreak of lone individuals who take matters in their own hands, or vigilantism. Overall community policing provides a neutral, personalized police service to the beckon call of the community.
Although the police had the ideas that they could impose law enforcement from the outside of the communities, community policing recognized that the police cannot impose order from the outside, instead the citizens of the respective communities had to be encouraged to take a stand and look at the local police as a resource, the citizens could rely on to assist in solving crime and building a safe living environment. Although community policing has been around for several years and has had several crime prevention programs that has succeed and failed, the real question is does community policing really work?
Is it effective or just another bureaucratic plot to keep the public satisfied. This is what this paper is going to explore. Ever since the United States found our independence from the British Colonies, law enforcement has been involving. From the days of the old where night watchmen would watch the streets, to the today concept of law enforcement, the ideology was that a private law enforcement agency could manage and eliminate crime. Through several years of research and a lot of trial by error a new concept was brought to light.
The idea of using the citizens of the local communities to be the eyes and ears of the law enforcement. Who else to provide quick, reliable intelligence then the people who knew the streets, the criminals, there associates and where they liked to hung out. However, over the years a barrier between the police agencies and communities had formed and now that barrier needed to be removed.
That is one of the reasons why, in 1994, Congress pass a Crime Bill that, among other things, funded 100,000 new police officer and allocated approximately $11 billion to law enforcement (Gaines & Kappeler, 2008, p. 53). The passing of this bill was one of the most substantial criminal justice funding efforts ever passed by Congress, it solidified support for community policing as the primary law enforcement modality for dealing and interaction with the community (Gaines & Kappeler, 2008, p. 454). In essence, this bill laid the foundation for community policing evolution of police-community to the idea of team policing strategies. Now that the ground work had been laid, where to go from here.
The basis of community policing was first articulated with Goldstein’s article on “problem-solving policing” and Wilson and Kelling’s discussion on community disorder (Gaines & Kappeler, 2008, p. 454). In essence Goldstein concept was that police agencies need to address the problems of crime and resolve those issues first and Wilson and Kelling concept was that the if criminal activity was left uncheck in a community, then the community itself would be swallowed up in the criminal activity.
Overall, Goldstein, Wilson and Kelling concepts began the development of the community policing. Their ideas that the problems needed to be addressed directly and not as a group and that the community had to take pride in their areas was the baseline for community policing. There were several ideas that were developed to have an effective program. The main ideals were to broaden police function, to have citizen inputs and have neighborhood coverage. This resulted in the police changing from reactionary law enforcement concept to a proactive law enforcement concept.
Meaning instead of waiting for the citizens to report crime, law enforcement agencies were incorporated into communities, Police sub-station were developed to provide better access to the police. Officers were assigned to a geographical areas, and that was their patrolling area. Programs, like Drug Abuse Resistance and Education Program (D. A. R. E. ) and Crime Prevention Program with McGruff the Crime Dog, were developed to get the officers involved in the community and to remove the barriers between law enforcement and the communities.
According to Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statics website in 2003, 58% of all law enforcement agencies used full-time community policing officers. Collectively, there were about 54,800 local police officers designated as community police officers. Overall, 37% of residents in 12 cities reported seeing police talking with residents in their neighborhood and 24% of respondents reporting seeing police facilitating crime watch and prevention activities. Community policing was take hold within the communities and police agencies, however was it effective?
Efficiency involves minimizing waste, expense or unnecessary efforts, while effectiveness is producing the desired result or doing the right thing for the right reasons. Unfortunately, too often police agencies have emphasis efficiency, like rapid response to dispatches, number of citations, rather than what will produce the desired outcome for the community. Several ideas were thrown around to figure out to have an effective community policing program. After all the dust and disagreements, a general consciences was developed.
To have an effective community policing program one must have the following factors: Problem-oriented policing, problem solving concept and gain the support of the local community. A problem solving approach involves identifying problems and making decision about how to best to deal with the problems (Miller & Hess (2002) page 86). One of the primary factors regarding community policing is that it is proactive rather than reactive, meaning not only identifying the problem but also uncovering the reason or cause of the problem. Problem-oriented policing is dual focused.
One is the response to the incident, which law enforcement agencies do very well, however the second focus is identifying the reason behind the call, which is where community policing comes in. For example, if the call is in response to a domestic violence, where the husband and wife are fighting. The police responded very quickly, separate the parties and defuse the situation. However, they never identified the reason behind the fight. By resolving or identify the issue, this could prevent the argument to arise again, which would result in another call and response.
Another example could be the report of a stolen vehicle. Although the officers that responded, took all the appropriate reports and entered the vehicle in the appropriate systems, if they had some background into the community or even the family, they could have figured out that the caller reported the vehicle stolen as part as an insurance fraud. Just as the police agencies need to change the philosophy of conducting business so does the local citizens. Community policing is a partnership between law enforcement and local citizens. The local citizens also have to police themselves.
They have to stand up and report crime and take a stance on what goes on in their communities. The police can no longer accept total responsibly for criminal problems. Success of a community policing program will be achieved only when the police and community join forces to develop solutions (Miller & Hess (2002) page 87). Now with regards to problem solving, the process of moving toward a goal when the path to the goal is uncertain (Miller & Hess (2002) page 88). Along with problem oriented policing, problem solving involves the investigation of the issue to find the cause.
For example, underlying conditions can result in several problems, vehicle break in, home invasion, assaults, vandalism. Of course the police respond to each one of the complaints, however the underlying issue was never addressed and the problem continues. By taking the time to use community policing and getting the community involved, asking the questions and just listening, the officer could have identified that there was a gang issue in the community. By focusing on the potential gang issue, the other problems would decrease or even stop.
One way to ensure effectiveness of community policing, is to group problem solving incidents as a problems. One model of this is the SARA model (Miller & Hess (2002) page 92). This model employs the concept of scanning, analysis, response and assessment. Basically, scanning or identify the problem, analysis or learning the cause of the problem, response or resolving the problem and assessment or follow-up to ensure the problem was resolved. By using these tools the police could employ a systematic approach to the issues and this also provided a baseline to the community so they know how responding patrols would handle issues.
Another concept would be problem analysis. This approach used potentials sources, like other officers reports, community surveys, schools, and community leaders to ensure the police agencies are meeting and solving crime for the community. Part of the this process was the use of crime mapping, which is keeping track of events or reported crimes with the intent to identify criminal activities. This idea not only created a way police could focus their efforts on high crime areas but also provided a way to provide statics information to the community and the community leaders.
As mention earlier community policing is a total force effort, police and the community acting as one. In an effort, police agencies developed programs to get the community involved. One of the most popular is neighborhood watch program, which is a program to raise awareness of crime and crime prevention within local communities. This program caused police officer and citizens of the communities to interact from reporting crime and being trained on the principles and concepts of the program. The program not only focused on the communities but education as well.
Programs like, Crime Prevention, with one of the most famous mascots, “McGruff” the crime fighting dog. This program focused on education, providing information to the communities and ultimately education for the youth regarding the potentials of criminal activities. These programs even transformed into drug awareness programs like, Drug Abuse Resistance and Education Program (D. A. R. E. ). According to www. dare. com, D. A. R. E. was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles and has proven so successful that it is now being implemented in 75 percent of our nation’s school districts and in more than 43 countries around the world.
D. A. R. E is the highly acclaimed program that gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence. This program is where police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives. Since the development of these programs, almost all law enforcement agencies have some type of community policing based program. Community police has evolved so much that these practices are now being used to in the fight against terrorism.
Although, a great deal of emphasis is focused on the international fight against terrorism and what has been called the global war on terror, it should not be overlooked that many attacks are from terrorist within our own borders, and a greater emphasis on local initiatives will continue to thwart terrorism at its earliest stages (Traina (2010). Prior to September 11, many countries in the developed world had lapsed into a laissez-faire approach to national security. The terrorist attacks in the United States on domestic soil would bring that complacency to a dramatic end, and priority for homeland security would become a catch ry, not just in the United States, but also in many countries (Murray (2005). It has been frequently pointed out that police alone cannot successfully achieve crime control and that the support of the community is critical.
The same principles clearly apply to the prevention of terrorist acts, with the emphasis being on prevention. While threats against national security have justifiably shifted the focus of policing priorities to meet this critical demand, however abandonment of community policing and a total return to the old police methods of policing, i. . reactive instead of proactive, is not the way. Community policing focuses on preventing crime through active problem solving and forming partnerships that will benefit both law enforcement as well as the community. Additionally, a community–police relationship that is built on trust and mutual respect is much more likely to give early warnings about terrorist acts. Rather than move policing away from community policing it should be reinforced especially in light of the cultural traits in operational police that tend to indicate a preference for action.
In the begin law enforcement agencies ran and operated almost like a paramilitary organization, by reacting to crime, making arrest and writing citations. However, over time a barrier was formed between the citizens of communities and law enforcement. The citizens wanted law enforcement protection but also wanted better living conditions and a safe place to live. In their minds this was a responsibility of law enforcement, however, in the big picture this was a responsibility of both law enforcement and citizens.
The effectiveness of the community policing program is very hard to measure. Yes, statics can be pulled and compared, however, what does this show only the numbers, the real measure of effectiveness is in the public’s eyes. Crime is always going to flux, depending on the city, location and environment. However, community policing has provided a way the citizens of a community can take pride in their towns, districts and even have the sense of making a difference. So is community policing effective, the answer would have to be yes.
Transitioning from a paramilitary style organization to a total force concept, where all citizens are empowered to take part in the security of the United States and then having the law enforcement arm of the justice department being proactive and preventing any further tragedies happening, like September 11, then yes the programs is a success. There is a old saying, “I can feed a family for a month, however, if we teach them how to feed themselves, they will be able to survive a life time. ” Community policing has the same concept, through teamwork and education, the success of the world can be achieved. ?