The failure of most traditional policing methods that were primarily based on hierarchical structures, standardized procedures, and the use of motorized police patrol cars to combat crime, led to the awakening of the need to involve communities in the fight against crime. Although traditional policing methods, for example, team policing provided a mechanism of averting crime, the methods primarily emphasized providing long-term solutions to crime. Because of this; the need for rapid response to crime incidents, and the significance of differentiating the nature of crimes that patrol officers, detectives, and other crime specialists could deal with, the concept of community policing came into being. Primarily, community policing involves the partnership between law enforcement agents and society members to identify and offer viable solutions to a community’s security problems. This practice is based on the principle that law-enforcing agents are not the sole guardians of law and order, but rather, it is the role of all community members to ensure that their neighborhoods are secure and free from disturbances. Through the introduction of community policing, new policing approaches have emerged one of them being community-oriented policing. Community-oriented policing uses problem-oriented policing as one of its main strategies of maintaining law and order. This has greatly helped most global societies to deal with crime and numerous societal problems without having to depend on the criminal justice system to maintain security and order in societies (Leech & Drury, 2009, pp. 3-8).
Community Oriented Policing
Community-oriented policing is a policing strategy that involves the assigning of a specific law-enforcing officer to a certain geographical zone. The main goal of this method is to offer societies a chance of helping law-enforcing officers in maintaining law and order through a proactive partnership form of working arrangement. One advantage of community-oriented policing is that not only does this strategy solve the crime, but also it helps societies to develop methods of preventing crimes and offering solutions to any emerging societal problems, which may disturb the peaceful coexistence of a community. Any officer assigned to participate in any community-oriented policing has the autonomy and liberty to act as the law dictates in their community policing endeavors. In performing their duties, these officers work in close collaboration with other organizations and societal groups in educating members of a society on how to deal with any factors, which are likely to jeopardize the peaceful coexistence of a community. To achieve this, these groups in conjunction with the assigned officer must involve themselves in business, civic, and education educational events within the society (Goldstein, 2010, 311-319).
Practically, it is almost impossible for law-enforcing agents to deal with a crime without the help of community members. Such is the case primarily because, a community’s members play an important role in helping officers to identify, prioritize, and understand its problems. In addition, community-oriented policing can help to promote the building of trust, healthy relationships, and the free exchange of information between participating parties. The primary concepts involved in community-oriented policing include ensuring public satisfaction, application of proper methodologies of solving any chronic security problems within a community, empowering law enforcing agents to be good problem solvers, and providing viable solutions to societal members. In addition to these, other concepts involved in this policing strategy include proper utilization of a society’s resources, making both police officers and societal members proactive instead of being reactive to problems, improving service delivery among police officers, and building healthy relationships among police officers and societies (U.S. Department of Justice, 1994, pp. 26-29).
Methods of Implementing Community-Oriented Policing
For any community-oriented policing program to achieve its mandate, authorities must implement it using the correct and workable methods. These methods in most cases vary depending on the available community policing structures. One primary method of implementing a community-oriented policing program is through liaising with other state organs, which work closely with communities. For example, the security department needs to liaise with the legislature to push for reforms and enacting of laws that are to enhance the safety of communities. Another important department, which the security department can liaise with, is the education department in sensitizing the communities on the significance of participating in any community-oriented policing initiative. Another important method of implementing a community-oriented program is by using a police watch program and police hotlines that should be operational all the time. Going hand in hand with a police watch program is using other criminal justice systems and social service agencies to maintain security and order in communities. Although sometimes coordinating all these agencies can be a daunting task, proper structuring, development of a zero-tolerance program, teamwork, and maintaining public awareness, can help to alleviate any challenge that may face any implementation initiative (Forst and Dempsey, 2009, pp. 382-386).
One primary aspect emphasized by any community-oriented policing strategy is solving crime problems in societies. However, because of the broad security functions that COPs programs are supposed to achieve, sometimes it becomes necessary for such programs to address directly community problems; hence, facilitating the formulation of customized responses to such problems. As a result of these, community-oriented policing uses problem-oriented policing as one of its main strategies for dealing with crime and other societal problems. Problem-oriented policing involves the use of any existing similar pieces of police data on crimes, disorders, or a society’s problems to formulate better ways of dealing with crime and any instances of disorder in a community. In addition, to any piece of information held by law enforcing agents, police the communities must also participate in the identification and formulation of solutions to any prevailing societal problem. This strategy uses a four-stage process in its endeavor to provide viable solutions to societal security problems, which are; scanning and recognition of the existing problem, analyzing all concepts surrounding the problems, followed by the formulation of required responses to the problems. The final step involved in problem-oriented policing involves the assessment of the response given to an identified problem, to ascertain the practicability of the given solutions. This strategy of policing is reactive; hence, its primary goal is to limit the chances of a committed crime from reoccurring (U.S. Department of Justice, 1994, pp. 12-27).
Although the success of any community or problem-oriented policing initiative is primarily dependent on the nature of the relationship, which exists between society and the police, sometimes the physical structure of an organization can determine the success of any POP or COP initiative. Although the primary aim of any policing initiative is to deal with any form of disorder and crime in a society, poor physical structures can hinder the achievement of this goal, because of the significance of well-organized physical structures of an organization and a well-defined geographical area. The physical structures should be configured in a manner that reflects the main values of such an organization for it to be accepted by the community it’s serving. In addition to reflecting the values of an organization, good physical structures should be in the way that they support any police work and attract community members in terms of accessibility (U.S. Department of Justice, 1994, pp. 12-23).
Challenges Facing Community-Oriented Policing
Much as community-oriented policing is appreciated, the practice faces several challenges, which in most cases depend on the quality of relationships between police officers and a community. One primary challenge that faces community-oriented policing is the negative perception, which some societies have towards law-enforcing agents at both communal level and individual level. Negative relationships can hinder service delivery; as such relationships are primary obstacles to the development of trust and cooperation between societies and law-enforcing agents. Other challenges faced by community-oriented policing include financial shortages, management, and organizational problems, and an increase in litigation cases against law agents (Anderson, 2004, p. 1).
In conclusion, the introduction of community-oriented policing has revolutionized the war against crime and disorder. This is the case primarily because; currently, most global communities participate actively in policing initiatives; hence, boosting security and order in societies. Although societies appreciate community-oriented initiatives, community-oriented policing initiatives also face challenges, although most of them are avoidable in a well-organized community.
Anderson, J. (2004). Community policing-working together to prevent crime. Australian Institute of Criminology. Web.
Forst, L. S., & Dempsey, J. S. (2009). An introduction to policing. New York: Delmar Publications. Web.
Goldstein, H. (2010). Toward community oriented policing: potential, basic requirements, and threshold questions. Crime and Delinquency, 33(1), 16-30.
Leech, T. G., & Drury, B. (2009). The potential of community-oriented policing. Web.
U.S. Department of Justice. (1994). Understanding community policing a framework for action. NCJ 148457. Web.