As the head of the local police department, several issues have led me to think of implementing a community policing system. This system would integrate and emphasize on the interaction of the wider community towards curbing crime within the area. I have realized that the wider community can play a central role in identifying criminals, detaining them and generally bringing social problems to the attention of the police (Wikipedia, N.D.).
A major point of focus in all this is the escalating prostitution – a crime within my jurisdiction. The policy might also be what is needed to rectify the strained relationships that the police department has been having with the community. Now in order to effect the transition from the traditional policing to community policing, several steps will need to be taken.
Seeking the community’s corroboration
The initial stages of the transition will involve imparting awareness in the wider community about their importance in curbing crime. These stages are important, for the community needs to provide its assistance and collaboration willingly, if the policy is to work. The civilians need to understand that they can actually take on an active role in solving social problems and generally improving their quality of life (Stephen et al, 1994). They need the assurance that their voices will be heard, their ideas deliberated upon, and their actions appreciated. Their prevailing mistrust and apathy need to be eliminated. All this will require the energy, creativity and patience of all parties involved.
Once the wider community has been made aware of this new policing policy and its benefits, the next step will be to try and build up upon the community’s existing value system. I realize that the strained relationships between the police and the community have partly been because of the difference in our core principles. Traditional policing acted upon regulations enacted at the national level. These regulations may not be the best at the community level. Hence any effort to customize the policies to the community’s unique value systems can only receive wide acceptance. Since the community’s own principles are largely valid, reinforcing them may be more effective than getting rid of them (Lyons, 2002).
Feedback during transition
During the actual transition of the policing from the traditional to the community based one, a lot of flexibility will be required. Nothing is clear cut, and actually a lot of gray areas do exist. A lot of feedback and evaluation of progress on a consistent base will be needed. Careful planning and timely execution will be essential to success (Greer, 2005). At the same time, the planning will have to be very responsive to the social dynamics in the wider communities. Changing needs or conditions will require a corresponding change in the execution of the policies being made. In line with this, a significant part of the transition will be dedicated to field research to ensure that all policies being rolled out are not only applicable, but are also optimal.
One area in which the field feedback will be especially required is in curbing the prostitution problem. Due to its very nature, prostitution elicits controversy whenever a drastic step is taken against it. The situation is compounded by the fact that some jurisdictions have actually legitimized the profession. But within my jurisdiction, it is still a crime, and I’m determined that it stays that way. The traditional policing system has so far proven ineffective against prostitution. I’m hoping that with the integration of the wider community, factors like religion and cultural principles will work to my advantage. The only way to gauge the effectiveness of this approach is by mobilizing a sizeable research workforce, and through such ultimately design an effective way of curbing prostitution.
Merits of community policing
Throughout the transition process, the underlying criteria is that a native cure for any malaise is almost always more effective than bringing on a new cure (Bonnie, N.D.). The present policing policy relies on meting out justice to criminals by secluding them from the rest of the society. The fact that new criminals always come up to replace those caught by the system, shows that this present system is fundamentally flawed.
Hence one key idea driving the transition process will be a bid to solve the underlying social problems that creates criminals – to cure the disease itself, instead of just getting rid of the signs. This, in the long run, should prove more effective.
I believe that the touchy subject of prostitution in my jurisdiction will be better handled by a community policing system than by the present system. This is because it is the wider community that, more often than not, impedes the efforts of the present policing system from catching up with the prostitutes. But with their collaboration, prostitutes will no longer have the community to provide anonymity and immunity (Bonnie, N.D.). There will also be a reduced incidence of young, naïve people being initiated into the profession. Ultimately, this despicable profession should die a natural death within my jurisdiction.
After weighing the merits of a community-based policing system, I believe that it is the way to go, if the policing department is to remain relevant. In this new system, the police and the larger community will act as watchdogs for each other.
As the police continue ironing out crime from the community, the wider community’s involvement will also help iron out shortcomings within the police department. These shortcomings include bureaucracy and non-optimum performance. Simultaneously, the adaptation of the policing policies to the community’s system will greatly amplify my department’s effectiveness in gaining corroboration from the wider community. I envision a situation where the wider community members are allies, rather than subjects or, even worse, opponents.
Bonnie Bucqueroux (N.D.) Community criminal justice: what community policing teaches. Web.
Greer Rowell (2005) Contemporary perspectives on policing Winston Arcade, New York pg 57-78.
Stephen J. Gaffigan, et al (1994) Understanding community policing: A framework for action. Web.
William Lyons (2002) The politics of community policing: Rearranging the power to punish Prestige Press, Washington. Pg 143- 152.
Wikipedia (N.D.) Community policing. Web.