Robust relationships built on mutual trust between police officers and the communities in which they serve are integral in promoting public safety and enhancing effective policing. Any town or an average American city is inhabited by people of diverse racial and economic backgrounds. The town’s population comprises Latinos, Caucasians, and African Americans. The city’s wealthy sections register relatively reduced crime rates, while the low and middle-income areas have recorded a rise in social disorder and an increase in distrust for the police.
As a result, it is imperative to improve the relationship between the law enforcers and the city’s residents to collaboratively and cooperatively devise solutions to the escalating crime problem. Notably, community policing is an efficient and effective ideology promoting systematic partnerships and techniques to proactively and innovatively address social ills such as crime and lawlessness. Implementing this strategy will also reinvigorate the mutual trust between the residents and police. Although community policing primarily focuses on building robust relationships, it helps arrest offenders, prevent crime, and improve the city’s overall quality of life.
The Philosophy of Community Policing
Community policing, also known as community-oriented policing, is a widely applied law enforcement ideology, which prioritizes the development of robust police-society relations. According to Peyton et al. (2019), this crime prevention strategy builds and nurtures public trust and enhances police legitimacy (19894). Notably, this law enforcement approach encompasses three fundamental components, including community partnerships, problem-solving, and organizational transformation. The principal objective of community policing is to bring the residents and the police together to address and develop solutions for various social issues.
Community partnerships are collaborative engagements between law enforcement agencies, organizations, and individuals domiciled in a given neighborhood to fix problems and increase trust in the police service proactively. Despite continually declining crime rates in societies, longstanding tensions between the public and police continue to frustrate and undermine the formation of cooperative relationships essential for the provision of safety in society. In this regard, the community partnership initiatives seek to escalate the police’s effectiveness by equipping the police with social acceptance and transforming it into a multi-agency unit (Frevel & Rogers 2016, p. 133).
According to Li (2017), community policing is significantly effective in apprehending offenders through information sharing and reporting incidences of lawlessness in the neighborhood (50). In this regard, the collaborative engagement makes the members of the public a critical source of support to law enforcers, assisting in investigations and contributing effectively to the efficient provision of public safety. Therefore, the partnership is anchored on the realization that police cannot solve public safety concerns while acting alone.
Organizational transformation is the alignment of such various components as information systems, personnel, and structure of the law enforcement agencies to support proactive problem-solving and community partnership. This involves reconfiguring the infrastructure, processes, departments, and operations to reflect and underpin the philosophical shift to community-oriented policing.
Notably, this is a critical cog in the implementation, operationalization, and institutionalization of this innovative and intelligence-led strategy. For instance, increased transparency and openness in community policing are indispensable since they engender trust, improve police legitimacy in the public’s eye, and create metrics for accountability (Peyton et al., 2019, p. 19895). This implies that the reengineering of all the aspects of law enforcement is imperative to underpin the flawless operability, functionality, and dependability of the new system that espouses a new set of values.
Further, community policing’s ultimate objective is to address crime and other challenges in society. Problem-solving is the strategic, proactive, and systematic evaluation of the identified difficulties to develop and formulate effective responses. Rather than responding to incidences of lawlessness after they occur, community policing emphasizes the agencies’ need to prudently address the immediate underlying circumstances, which contribute to the erosion of public safety.
Notably, practical problem-solving should be infused into all law enforcement operations and guide the decision-making processes. In this regard, community policing distinctly emphasizes the focus on the challenges, problems, and factors underlying the crime rather than the exclusive consideration of the incidents (Miah & Tasnim, 2019, p. 2; Borrion et al., 2020, p. 220). Although there are various problem-solving models in conventional policing, they are poorly structured to effectively reduce social disorders due to their narrow definitions.
Ways in Which Police and Citizens Work Collaboratively to Arrest Offenders
In community policing, citizens and law enforcement agencies work collaboratively to accomplish such various objectives as apprehending offenders, preventing crime in their neighborhoods, and improving the quality of life in the city. In arresting lawbreakers, this strategy imposes shared responsibility on the police and the community members to maintain order in their neighborhoods. Regarding arresting offenders, police do not have the capacity or resources to be constantly present in all the city areas. Consequently, they rely on the information provided by the residents of the particular neighborhood about incidences of lawlessness and the culprits.
Schreurs et al. (2018, p. 776) contend that citizens mainly participate in policing activities as the ears and eyes of the law enforcers by providing valuable intelligence. For instance, in the given scenario, residents of the middle and low-income sections can inform the police about the crime-prone areas, the presence of people with suspicious or questionable dealings, or where actual offenses are being committed.
Moreover, the citizens of a given neighborhood know the ins and outs of their areas, understand the underlying problems, and tell when something suspicious is ongoing. In this regard, the community members can help the police apprehend offenders by playing the surveillance role, contributing to criminal investigations through intelligence provision, and gathering and sharing information amongst neighbors regarding safety (Schreurs et al., 2018, p. 776). Additionally, citizens can advise the police about the specific conditions, areas, or events, lead to the escalation of crime and the possible criminal hideouts. Implementing these shared obligations underscores the primary philosophy of community policing, which indicates that crime is not the sole burden of the police.
In the low and middle-income areas of Anytown, where a rise in crime and growing police distrust have been recorded, the police-citizen partnership can effectively address these challenges. Przeszlowski and Crichlow (2018) argue that such neighborhoods lack the essential resources due to their economic circumstances and generally have significantly weaker social cohesion and ties than their affluent counterparts (35). As a result, they become subjects of increased crime rates and social disorder.
Additionally, these areas are characterized by entrenched police distrust, which impedes law enforcement agencies’ effectiveness in apprehending offenders. However, such innovative arrangements as community policing enhance cohesion, guardianship, positive encounters with the police, and social controls. Such societies achieve improved collective action and efficacy in minimizing the motivations for committing offenses and apprehending lawbreakers.
Police and Citizens Collaboration in Crime Prevention
Community policing is a collaborative partnership between the law enforcement agencies and the members of the public to prevent crime, among other objectives. It recognizes the shared responsibility of the people and the police to ensure safe and secure neighborhoods. By establishing an equal and active partnership between the public and law enforcers, crime and community safety concerns can be jointly discussed, and the solutions determined and implemented collaboratively. This implies that the police and the community should foster a positive working relationship to formulate society-specific crime prevention solutions. The initial step entails creating a comprehensive understanding between the law enforcers and the community regarding their joint role in eradicating social disorder.
The public can supplement the efforts of the police in patrolling through authorized private guards and neighborhood watch groups. Pridmore et al. (2018) contend that through such programs, citizens can observe and report suspicious activities to the law enforcers for appropriate action (98). Additionally, strategies such as neighborhood watch programs enhance social cohesion, guardianship, and community control, which significantly reduce the motivation of committing crimes and the likelihood of escaping punishment. For instance, mobile phone-based crime prevention watch groups have supplemented and, in some areas, supplanted police patrols by facilitating the exchange of concerns, warnings, advice, and other information about the residents’ safety (Pridmore et al., 2018, p. 98)). Since information is the most critical tool in crime prevention, conveying intelligence among community members and sharing it with the police help to eradicate social disorder and foster robust social connections.
Improvement on the Overall Quality of Life
Effective community policing challenges the law enforcement agencies and the public to cooperatively provide the required leadership to address the various safety and security-related problems in society. The strategy’s core philosophy is to go beyond the surface symptoms of crime incidences in a particular neighborhood and formulate comprehensive and effective responses that eliminate triggers and motivations for offending.
Essentially, this approach transforms the role of police from being incident-driven to being problem-solvers and facilitators. In this regard, the strategy becomes proactive, solution-oriented, and community-driven. In the given scenario, the affluent residents of Anytown can work with their neighbors and police to ensure the neighborhood does not collapse under the weight of crimes and social disorder. Since community policing envisions a crime-free society, it ultimately improves the quality of life for all.
Additionally, community-oriented policing reduces fear in society due to enhanced security and safety and social cohesion. It engenders the formulation of creative solutions to the challenge of crime. Notably, these resolutions are generated at the neighborhood, town, and village levels, implying that they address the most pressing needs of the members of those communities. The close working relationships between the public and the police eliminate tensions, increase tolerance, break down stereotypes, and support the in-depth understanding of society and law enforcers, translating to improved connections and quality of life.
Required Training for Police Officers to Enhance Proficiency in Community Policing
Community policing envisions new roles for police officers, which depart significantly from the conventional responsibilities. With its particular emphasis on a problem-solving and collaborative approach, police officers implementing the strategy will require new skills, attitudes, and knowledge to modify and refine their effectiveness. Overall, the training would focus on imparting moral, cognitive, emotional, and social skills (Blumberg et al., 2019, p. 4941).
Among the prominent training, considerations are the socialization of the officers into the community. This would entail overhauling the old mentality of the police subculture and installing a people-oriented ideology. The socialization will focus on empowering the officers so that they can execute their discretion effectively and creatively. Additionally, the officers would require training in areas that enhance their communication skills, elevate their shared decision-making abilities, and improve their community interaction.
Further, unbiased and understanding of diversity, self-control, team and service orientation, performance-driven attitude, planning, and organizational skills would support the mental and psychological transition to the new operating model. For instance, in the given scenario, the city of Anytown is a multiracial neighborhood comprising of African Americans, Latinos, and Caucasians.
This population composition necessitates police officers to have a profound understanding of diversity to eliminate biases. Additionally, the personnel would also be trained on decision-making, rational judgment, impulse control, persuasiveness, and integrity. Therefore, the focus of the training sessions would be to equip the officers with skills that are integral in the contemporary policing environment, which emphasizes collaboration, partnership, and cooperation.
Training for the Community
As the police officers acquire skills and training to support community policing, the members of the public would also be enrolled in similar sessions to ensure they interrelate with a transformed mentality. In this regard, the tutoring would seek to sensitize the public on their responsibilities regarding finding solutions to the safety and security challenges in their neighborhood. Additionally, they would be trained on how to effectively communicate and convey information to the law enforcers, proactively engage the police, problem identification, and change their perception of police officers.
Addressing the Protection Needs of Specific Groups
Recent events in Anytown has escalated distrust for police among citizens. They have become increasingly unwilling to collaborate with law enforcement agencies, leading to a spike in crime incidences. In this regard, it is imperative to address the specific interests of the diverse populations and groups living in Anytown, including the elderly, juveniles, disabled, the homeless, and minorities. Notably, the policy’s initial focus would be to endeavor the building relationships with all the segments of the population by ensuring that they participate in its formulation.
Additionally, it would integrate a flawless feedback platform through which concerns of discriminatory behavior, prejudice, and racially and economically inspired actions are reported. This would also be followed by an elaborate remedial process to eliminate the chances of recurrence. With a robust relationship between the public and the law enforcement agencies, the diverse sections of the community can feel safe and eliminate police bias toward the people.
Determination of the Policy’s Success or Failure and Evaluation
The policy’s failure or success would be determined through various qualitative insights, such as the effectiveness of community policing in forestalling crimes and the extent to which the quality of life has improved in society. Additionally, high conformance of the policy to the specific needs of the residents and the level of communication, collaboration, and involvement of the police and citizens in problem-solving will indicate the success of the policy.
For instance, increased trust levels between Anytown residents and the police will be a strong indicator of falling crime levels and improving partnerships. The policy will be collaboratively evaluated by the officers and members of the public to enhance the objective determination of its effectiveness and impact. This will be done through the systematic collection and examination of all relevant information, such as growing trust levels and reduced crime rate.
Conclusively, community policing is a contemporary community-oriented law enforcement strategy, which emphasizes the systematic utilization of cooperation and problem-solving to address the distinct conditions contributing to public security issues proactively. The approach encompasses three integral components, including community partnerships, problem-solving, and organizational transformation. This contemporary policing approach differs significantly from the traditional model since it seeks to build relationships between the police and the community to reduce crime and social disorder.
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