Community policing concept dates back in mid 1980s. It is defined as a policy with an objective of effectively and efficiently controlling or reducing crime or fear of crime by relying on community resources to improve the policing services. The definition exclusively introduces the aim of community policing. However, it is imperative to note that community policing focuses on understanding the crime producing elements as an essential step in reducing the potential sources of a crime. In other words, community policing is not designed to control and reduce crime rates only but also to avert potential causes of crime. It ought to be noted that community policing encompasses many aspects of community participation in the prevention of crime (Friedmann, 1996).
Community policing has completely rendered the traditional policing useless since it had entirely failed to offer tangible results in crime reduction. There are four vital elements of community policing. This includes philosophical, strategic, tactical and organizational. The philosophical aspect entails merging of the police and community role in counteracting crimes. Secondly, the strategic policing involves community ideas being put into strategies to assist in the policing process. Thirdly, the tactical stage enhances the implementation of the strategies developed. Lastly, community policing is achieved by the organizational nature of the policing agencies and the community (Peak, & Glensor, 2008).
The rationale of community policing
The core of community policing rests in the recognition that it is only working with the community affected. In this regard, the law enforcement agencies can find applicable local solutions to the problems affecting the community. The partnership permits a given community to respond, identify and react to local concerns (Skogan, 1995).
Two international applications of community policing
Community policing has internationally been applied in Hong Kong and Australia. In Australia, the community policing has taken an innovative law enforcement response in preventing the occurrence of crimes. The law enforcement agencies have been strengthened, and greater police accountability witnessed. Secondly, community policing has been applied in Hong Kong and substantial benefits enjoyed. Police-community relations have been improved and greater community police collaborations evidenced. With the continued partnerships of the police and the community in Hong Kong, communities have been assisted in developing the law and also providing relevant solutions to the problems affecting the community (Friedmann, 1996).
The future of community policing in the United States
The status of community policing in the United States today is worth critical examination. Though there have been relatively few systematic evaluations on the functioning of community policing programs, it is clear that the said programs have been marred by difficulties in implementation. There are several positive indicators clearly showing that community policing programs have reduced crime rates in United States. As depicted earlier, community policing presents mutual benefits to the police and the community. However, its working must be geared towards answering the question of how effective can it work.
One pitfall linked with community policing is the fact that solutions offered are not in conformity with the law and are essentially solutions in the local fashion. Increasing ambiguity in the solutions offered has direct, negative effects to the development of the law. The wide, unfettered discretion given to the police has the effect of making the officers feel that their powers are not within the confines of statutes. Therefore, the future of community policing rests on the commitment of the United States government in ensuring implementation and also clearly defining the scope of police officers discretion to avoid lawlessness. The future of community policing in the United States is pegged on how the said challenges are handled (Skogan, 1995).
The advantages of the community policing approach
Amidst many pitfalls, there are numerous advantages associated with community policing, which are to the benefit of the community and the police agencies. First, community policing fosters a notable decrease in the police-citizen conflict hence having a strong partnership between the community and the police agencies. Secondly, there is massive reduction in crime rates. The rate of crimes is cut, and the potential sources fairly dealt with when there is strong coordination. Thirdly, the flow of information from the police agency to the community is guaranteed. It is the information shared between the police and the community which propels monitoring of the community from an informed point (Friedmann, 1996).
Fourth, it is a better way of preventing crime compared to the traditional means. In community policing, both parties team up to achieve certain goals through coordination. Therefore, it becomes easy, efficient and cost friendly to prevent crimes by coordinating with the community. In addition, community policing has the effect of offering applicable solutions to problems which are to the benefit of the community. General solutions have in the past backfired hence community policing has acted timely to remedy such a situation (Friedmann, 1996).
Community policing has many benefits as afore discussed. It is the said benefits which have drawn the attention of Hong Kong and Australia to apply it. Arguably, community policing has benefitted United States more than the traditional crime prevention mechanisms. The only major pitfall to be understood and dealt with is the implementation challenge. In addition, without the effective control of the system, lawlessness may not be ruled out.
Friedmann, R.R. (1996). Community Policing: Some Conceptual and Practical Considerations. Web.
Peak, K.J. & Glensor, R.W. (2008). Community policing and problem solving: Strategies and practices. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Skogan, W.G. (1995). Community policing in the United States. Web.