Community policing has surfaced as an innovative law enforcement response in combating and preventing crime in Australia (Anderson, 2004). Since it encourages close partnership between local law enforcement agencies and the community, officers are likely to get information more easily and quickly because the citizens have developed trust and familiarity with the officers. The fact that officers are assigned fixed geographic areas and responsibilities assists them in detecting possible terrorist threats (Bayley, 2009).
Officers working in one community for long periods are able to develop precise intelligence regarding resident and community activities. This kind of street-level knowledge is an important asset in counter-intelligence efforts as well as how the officer responds in case of a terrorist threat (Scheider, Chapman, 2003). Evidently, a flat organizational structure is likely to ensure more successful prevention of and response to terrorist threats in that local police officers are more likely to come into contact with people who are directly or otherwise mixed up in terrorism.
Most certainly, the officers are the first to respond in future terrorist threats and attacks (Peak, Glensor, 1999). Empowering these low-rank officers with authority to make decisions as well as familiarizing them with taking important decisions as well as taking responsibility for them. This is crucial in responding to and handling crises such as a terrorist threat.
Decentralization of the decision making process can prove vital in the case of a terrorist attack since there might be little time to relay decisions up the hierarchical chain of command, whereby it might take time for a decision to reach down again to the officer (Scheider, Chapman, 2003). Consequently since the decision making process is decentralized and creativity encouraged among officers in a community policing model, officers become accustomed to making decisions and maintaining authority are better prepared to give quick and decisive response in case of a terrorist threat (Sullivan, Wirtz, 2009).
The organizational structure supporting community policing equips the lower ranked officers with freedom to pursue leads and suspected terrorist activities. The officers who are assigned to work in a neighborhood or community for a long time tend to develop particular intelligence regarding resident and community activities. The acquired street-level knowledge is not only vital in counter-intelligence, but also in making smart decisions and informed response in case of a terrorist threat (Waring, 1999). Problem-solving models in community policing are equipped in prevention and response to terrorist activities.
Police agencies can make use of available data sources in advance to develop elaborate risk management and crisis plans (Worell, Marenin, 1998). They can then determine potential terrorist targets as an important first step then conduct analyses of the possible threats and the likelihood of the threats occurring. In partnership with governmental agencies, community and social units can create detailed plans on crisis prevention and response (Waring, 1999). Terrorism threats have provided a unique chance to develop partnerships with citizens, law enforcement agencies and other governmental organizations.
The community policing model promotes effective partnerships which are important in prevention of terrorist activities due to increased opportunities to gather and share intelligence as well as being central to build up coordinated responses to actual terrorist threats (Serafino, 2002). Conclusion Traditional policing is based on paramilitarism and is principally reactive, which highlights its inability to develop and sustain a relationship with communities. It tends to show preference for action and intolerance for ‘soft’ policing.
Community policing on the other hand offers a refreshing environment where police partners with the community. It has less emphasis on arrest but emphasizes on problem-solving besides prevention of crime. Presently, there seems to be a shift of emphasis -especially after September 11 attack in US- but not the total abandonment of community policing. Although community policing is more effective especially in the area of prevention, it is not without shortcomings especially in cases of terrorism where the police might feel the need to withhold information and this might cause a breach of trust and eventual collapse of the program.
Police agencies should be vigilant in case of pressures to relapse to traditional policing as it would undo all the achievement over the decades which has placed community policing as an enviable example of public service in a democratic society, both models are needed to effectively counter terrorism in. References AIC, 2009, community policing: a descriptive overview, viewed 22 May 2010, <http://www. aic. gov. au/publications/previous%20series/other/61-80/community%20policing%20%20a%20descriptive%20overview/view%20paper. aspx>
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