Select a current practice in one of the components of the criminal justice system (police, courts, corrections) and describe the policies and ideology that support this practice. (For example, the practice of capital punishment, or the practice of community policing, or the practice of restorative justice. ) The main buzz word in policing today is community policing, which refers to a crime prevention partnership between the police and the community (Wrobleski and Hess 2000).
Although the term has no clearly defined set of characteristics in practice, in philosophy it is aimed at solving problems before they become crimes rather than merely reacting to crimes after they occur. That is, it is an approach aimed at identifying problems with the community before they lead to crime (Goldstein 1990). This concept of police–community partnerships became the primary basis of a shift in policing practices.
Police began to articulate changes in policing under this new model of policing. Although there was no set pattern to how community policing was to be implemented, police–community partnerships in which citizens would share power with the police made up one key theme. Other themes or methods of community policing included problem solving, foot and bicycle patrols, and various programs. Community policing is rooted in a problem-solving approach and is sometimes referred to as problem-oriented policing. Problem-oriented policing is based on the following principles, as described by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (1993, p. 5). A problem is something that concerns the community.
A problem will likely indicate a pattern of related incidents that will require unique police interventions. Problem solving is a long-term strategy requiring increased police creativity and initiative. Community policing in its current forms began to take hold in the United States during the 1970s. It grew out of the recognition that professional policing was unsuccessful at reducing crime, as well as unpopular with certain segments of the public.
From roughly 1920 to 1970, American policing was more professional in nature; that is, it placed a high value on efficiencyand crime fighting while being separate and distinct from public influence. In the professional policing model, police intentionally keep themselves separate from the public in order to reduce corruption and special favors. Unfortunately, this leads to isolation from the community and hinders the ability of police to achieve cooperation from citizens. It also fosters hostilities in some neighborhoods where the police become seen as occupiers rather than service providers.
Community policing places more emphasis on providing services to the community and developing police–community relations (Gaines, Kaune, and Miller 2000, p. 178). Research demonstrates that the success of formal social control depends, at least in part, on informal social controls in a community (M. Robinson 2004). Police know that they need the help of communities to fight crime. Social control can be understood as “attempting to persuade persons or groups to conform to group expectations” (Cox and Wade 1998, p. 94).
Formal social control achieves that conformity through the use of official or governmental means, such as law enforcement, whereas informal social control is achieved through families, peers, teachers, and others. Coercing people to abide by the law (formal social control) depends to a great degree on a criminal justice network that can efficiently detect crime and apprehend criminals. Clearly, American criminal justice is highly inefficient. In part, this is because many Americans avoid getting involved in the process—for example, by not calling the police when they witness crimes.
Given that there are only 2.86 police officers per 1,000 citizens in the United States, it is highly unlikely that formal social control mechanisms will effectively deter would-be lawbreakers. This “should be enough to convince us that the likelihood of detection and apprehension for those who violate laws is quite low if we rely totally on the police for such detection and apprehension” (Cox and Wade 1998, p. 94). Community policing is also theoretically based on sound crime analysis, so that police resources and personnel are assigned to geographic areas where and when they are most needed.