Commencement Of Community Policing Strategies

In the mid 1970’s the Safe and Clean Neighborhoods Program was created in attempt to improve the quality of community life in cities in the United States. This program provided funds to take police officers out of their patrol vehicles and assign them to foot patrols. However, this was met with resentment by many officers for several reasons. These reasons included officers not wanting to be out in the inclement weather, not having the luxury of the patrol vehicle and working harder on foot. In this time period, foot patrols were a form of punishment for officers. In an evaluation of this project, it was concluded that foot patrol had not reduced crime rates, but the community members of the foot patrolled neighborhoods seemed to feel more secure than persons in other areas, they tended to believe that crime had been reduced and seemed to take fewer steps to protect themselves from crime. Foot patrol officers elevated the level of public order in the neighborhood. The citizens of these neighborhoods were satisfied and assigned a high value to public order in the neighborhood. “Social psychologists and police officers tend to agree that if a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired; all the rest of the window will soon be broken”. Untended behavior will lead to a breakdown of the community and more serious crime will flourish. “Broken windows are a metaphor for the deterioration of neighborhoods”. Historically, policing in America has failed because it has neglected the little things such as minor disorder. By not enforcing minor disorder, the community will get a sense that no one cares. More officers should be deployed on foot, and those officers should concentrate les on catching criminals and ore on enforcing informal neighborhood disorder.

Community policing has evolved over the past few decades from foot patrols to social media. Four factors have made it difficult to determine the effectiveness of community policing. These factors include programmatic complexity, multiple effects, variation in program support and research design limitations. When attempting to define community policing, it remains open for interpretation. Recent research shows that community policing helps reduce level of fear and available evidence suggests that community policing helps reduce disorder and fear. When evaluating community policing with community relations there is positive effects from perceptions of the community as well as officers’ attitude towards the community.
The strategic dimensions to community policing involve re-orienting operations, geographic focus, and prevention emphasis. Re-oriented operations suggest less dependence on the patrol vehicle and more dependence on face to face interactions. Geographic focus emphasizes geographic basis of assignment and responsibility by shifting the fundamental unity of patrol accountability from time of day to place. The prevention emphasis suggests a more proactive and preventive police approach. The tactical dimensions of community policing include positive interaction, partnership and problem solving. Police agencies are expected not only to cooperate with citizens and communities as well as actively solicit input and participation from the community. Officers should engage in positive interactions whenever possible in order to obtain the tactical tool of partnership.

Dunham, R. G. & Alpert, G.P. (2005). Critical Issues in Policing 5th Edition: Contemporary Readings: Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.
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