Community members expect police officers to maintain law and order at all times. At times, it is hard for police officers to know criminals in a certain locality but local people know criminals. As such, police officers expect a community to volunteer information that would assist in apprehending criminals in a society. This calls for a rapport between a local community and police officers for community members to volunteer such information.
As such, police officers should be friendly to community members and meet their expectations. In addition, members who volunteer sensitive information must be safe at all times. Their safety remains guaranteed if information volunteered remains confidential. In situations where officer collude with criminal gangs to frustrate community members, community policing remains a mirage. This paper seeks to explain what community policing is all about, its relevance and its importance.
Community policing refers to a policy and an approach whose main goal is to achieve more adequate and adept crime control, minimized apprehension of crime, enhanced quality of living, and enriched police services through a deliberate utilization of community resources (Friedmann). Community policing seeks to alter conditions that lead to increased crime. As such, community-policing demands police integrity, increased community participation in decision-making process and greater interest for human rights and liberties (Friedmann).
Community policing has various objectives other controlling crime. These include enhancing quality of life, enhancing police services and reforms as well as increased legitimacy of police officers (Friedmann). Community policing consists of three major components, which include structural changes, alliances between various agencies concerned with maintaining law and order and community participation in policing and decision making pertaining to policing (Friedmann).
Structural changes are a prerequisite for enhanced relationship between police officers and community members. Such structural changes manifest when police units move from being closed systems to open systems, which allow interaction with community members at any time. Police units should be more decentralized to enhance improved deployment of police officers in a community and better use of police officers (Friedmann).
In addition, it enhances closer interaction between police officers and community members. Police units should discard outdated command structure that focuses on upward mobility at the expense of enhanced police service. A new structure would focus on improving compensation for police officers based on service delivery and not rank and this would boost their morale. In addition, a police force should incorporate more citizens in its operations that do not require technical training as this enhances closer relationship with community members (Friedmann).
Flow of information needs enhancement especially at lower levels in the force as secrecy leads to frosty relationships between members of different ranks. If possible, the rigid command structure needs some alterations so that police officers interact more and more. Police officers should exercise open mindedness in decision-making (Friedmann). Reactive policy deployment leads to poor service delivery since senior police officers deploy their juniors only when criminals commit crimes. Instead, deployment should be passionate, continuous and preventive with focus on community participation.
Concerning recruitment, a police force should increase the level of educational qualifications necessary for a person to join the force so that more professionals join police forces. Lowering of grades required for joining a police force makes it appear as if a police force is for failures and thus encourages people who lack jobs elsewhere to join for the sake of earning some good pay (Friedmann).
Lastly, on structural changes, training granted to police officers should focus more on the people that require protection and how such people can be part of the solution to enhanced security. As such, recruits should receive training on interpersonal skills. Concerning performance evaluations, criteria for such evaluations must insist on quantitative community-focused activities. Community policing should be imparted on all police officers instead of creating units to deal with community policing as this would enhance continuity and uniformity in community policing (Friedmann).
Alliances between Various Agencies
Police force should interact with other agencies in a community to enhance openness and gain trust from community members. Such agencies include human rights groups, community based organizations that deal with crime related issues in a locality as well as other government agencies. This ensures that community members get information on how a police force is getting along in its services. As such, a police force should share non-vital information with agencies concerned with community policing. For instance, a police force should send out information on available resources so that community members understand when response fails (Friedmann). In this case, community members may volunteer resources to enhance service delivery in the police force. Such alliances minimize friction between agencies that participate in community policing.
Community involvement in policing is perhaps the most crucial component of community policing which many people refer to when defining community policing. This component involves incorporating of community member in issues relating to security through spheres of influence like churches, mosques, educational institutions and community based organizations, as well as the family (Friedmann). These institutions encourage citizens to avoid criminal activities at all times.
How Community Policing Relates To My Community
Initially, presence of police officers instilled fear and intimidation in community members. This resulted from ruthlessness, harshness and indifference exhibited by police officers in the course of their duty. With time, the crime rates went higher and higher and police officers appeared helpless in bringing the rates to lower levels. Community members heaped all the blame on laxity by police officers. Police officers blamed community members for harboring criminals in their midst instead of reporting such criminals to the police force.
By and by, the police force and the community agreed that there was need to cooperate to minimize crime and insecurity in the area. Community members and police officers held several meetings to map the way forward in fighting crime and insecurity and what role the community members would take. Experts assisted the two parties to forge a working relationship that would see community members volunteering information on criminals. The relationship led to decreased crime and change in attitudes among community members.
Significance of Community Policing
Community policing has led to reduced crime rate since community members feel it is their duty to assist police officers by volunteering information regarding criminals and their activities. This has made it easier for police officers to locate criminals and thwart any attempt at destabilizing peace in the society. In addition, community policing has led to changed attitudes towards crime by potential and actual criminals in the community. Overall, community policing has enhanced the relationship between community members and police officers.
Community policing is effective in fighting crime. It involves three components, which include structural changes in the police force, alliance building with other interested agencies and incorporating of community members. Community policing is possible if a police force and community members realize that they need each other as this leads to enhanced relationship between police officers and community members as well as reduced crime rate.
Friedmann, Robert R. Community Policing: Some Conceptual and Practical Considerations. n.d. Web.