It is stated under the law of most, if not every, country in the world that the duty of the police is to ensure the safety of its citizens. It is within a citizen’s rights to be protected by the police but this is not always the case especially in low-income areas. They have the highest crime rates because poverty often drives people to do illegal things. Too often criminals slip through the cracks of the justice system and get back to corrupting society with all kinds of evil. So how does this happen yet we claim to have an institution whose job is to serve and protect? The answer is simple; the police alone cannot catch every criminal even with their resources. This is where the community can step in and help the police to keep the neighborhoods safe in what is known as community policing. Community-oriented policing is defined as “A philosophy that combines traditional aspects of law enforcement with prevention measures, problem-solving, community engagement, and community partnerships” (West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2). No one knows the criminals in a society better than the community the criminal lives in do, so with their help and the resources from the police there are many benefits that can be gained from community policing in low-income neighborhoods.
Community policing requires the police to work closely with the members of that society. Fryer (2010) explained that “To better connect with the community and build relationships with community members many police departments practice community policing” meaning that community policing creates a rapport between the police and the community hence generating trust between the two. Most low-income neighborhoods don’t trust the police therefore a code of silence is the norm and gaining their trust is difficult because they see the police as the enemy and fear for their lives should they talk to them. When a relationship is formed between the police and the community, trust is established and this code of silence breaks, and the police can do their job effectively.
Community policing gives the community a voice in determining how they are policed (King, n.d.). The police usually determine how the community is to be policed without the community’s input and this has frequently caused conflicts between the two parties. With community policing the community’s opinion is taken into consideration and they are policed in a manner that both the police and the community have consented to. This can help ease tensions in low-income neighborhoods between the community and the police by mending the sometimes-strained relationships between the two.
Community policing gives the community a better understanding of police work. Most people have very high expectations of the police because of the influence of television shows and movies. Community policing allows the community to see firsthand police work and what it really entails. This helps the community to know and understand their limits and the limited resources they have.
In conclusion, community-oriented policing in low-income neighborhoods is the way forward and police throughout the world should push for communities to join forces with them to eradicate criminal activities in the neighborhoods and because they cannot do it alone, the community should play a part in keeping its people safe and creating solid relationships with the police.
Community-Oriented Policing. (n.d.) West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. (2008). Web.
King, S. J. (n.d.). Benefits of Community Policing. Web.
Fryer, T. (n.d.). The Police and the Community. Web.