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Learn More About Community Policing

Community policing is a strategy law enforcement use to engage the community by forming partnerships, enhancing organizational effectives, and developing problem-solving techniques in order to proactively address the cause of crime and social disorder and the fear of crime.

COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS

Community policing is a law enforcement strategy that encourages interactive partnerships between law enforcement agencies and the people they serve. These partnerships help communities find solutions to problems through collaborative problem solving and improved public trust. Through this model, the public plays a role in prioritizing public safety problems. Below are just some examples of opportunities for community partnerships.

Other Government Agencies

Potential Partners: Probation and parole, health and human services, child support services, schools, and other neighboring law enforcement agencies.

Examples of Partnerships: Providing educational programs with local libraries or school systems that incorporate law enforcement personnel.

Community Members and Groups

Potential Partners: Individuals who live and work in the community.

Examples of Partnerships: Encouraging people to attend Neighborhood Watch meetings or citizen police academies where they will learn more about the department and keeping the community safe.

Nonprofits and Service Providers

Potential Partners: Support groups, service clubs, issue and advocacy organizations, community development corporations, and faith-based community.

Examples of Partnerships: Meeting with specific groups such as churches to hear what they have to say and providing crime prevention and other resources targeted to that audience’s needs.

Private Businesses

Potential Partners: Small business community, large corporations, and local chamber of commerce and visitors bureaus.

Examples of Partnerships: Shop with a cop programs during the holidays (this could be a multi-way collaboration between the business community and nonprofits and service providers).

Media

Potential Partners: Newspapers, television outlets, radio stations, and bloggers.

Ways to Partner: Collaborating on message dissemination.

PROBLEM SOLVING

Community policing emphasizes proactive problem solving in a routine fashion, encouraging officers to develop solutions to the immediate, underlying public safety problems. Problem solving must be incorporated into all police operations and guide decision-making efforts.

Scanning

Scanning is used to identify a basic problem, determine the nature of the problem, determine the severity of the problem, and establish baseline measures. Problems can be a type of behavior, place, person(s), special event, or a combination of any of these factors. With input from the community, police should identify and prioritize concerns and issues.

Analysis

Analysis is the heart of the problem-solving process. The objectives are to develop understanding of the problem, its likely causes, and possible effects or outcomes. It is important to find out as much as possible about each aspect of the crime triangle by asking who, what, where, how, why, and why not about the victim, offender, and crime location.

Response

The response phase involves developing and implementing strategies to address an identified problem. The response should follow logically from what was learned in the analysis phase. The goals of response can range from totally eliminating the problem, substantially reducing the problem, reducing the amount of harm caused by the problem, to improving the quality of community cohesion.

Assessment

Assessment determines if the response strategies were successful by assessing if the problem declined and if the response contributed to the decline. This information assists the current effort and also gathers data that build knowledge for the future.

Using the crime triangle to focus on immediate conditions

It is often helpful to visual the links among the victim, offender, and location. These links are known as the crime triangle. Rather than focusing solely on the root causes of a problem, the crime triangle allows law enforcement to focus on factors that are within their scope to address. This includes such factors as limiting criminal access to victims, increasing guardianship, and associating risk with unwanted behavior.

ORGANIZATIONAL FEATURES

The community policing philosophy is reflected in how departments are organized and managed, and also how the infrastructure of the department supports community policing efforts.

Agency Management

Community policing asks law enforcement executives to incorporate community policing ideals into all areas of an agency. Areas include climate and culture, leadership, labor relations, decision-making, strategic planning, policies and procedures, organizational evaluations, and transparency.

Organizational Structure

The organizational structure of a community policing-focused agency ensures that patrol officers have decision-making authority and are held accountable for their actions. Agencies can achieve this structure by allocating resources to problem-solving efforts and partnerships. Many agencies also shift toward long-term assignments for officers and the development of generalists who are able to handle multiple responsibilities and work as a team.

Personnel

In a community policing-focused department, the ideals of community policing are incorporated throughout an entire agency. To do this, community policing is integrated into all parts of the personnel process including recruitment, hiring, and selection, as well as personnel evaluations, supervision, and training. This places a focus on service, creative thinking, proactive communication, and other skills through all levels of staff within an agency.

Information Systems and Technology

Advanced technology and sophisticated information systems play a central role in helping to provide access to accurate community information. Accurate information makes community policing efforts more effective and ensures that officers are informed about their area’s specific needs and conditions. Technology can also assist with improving two-way communication between citizens and police.

SOURCE: Community Policing Defined, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice.