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Effectiveness of Community Policing Essay

The police department uses different strategies in solving various disorders in the community and crimes. Community policing is one such strategy, a philosophy that uses organization strategies that support systematic use of partnerships and the problem solving techniques to proactively address all the conditions that are related to issues of public safety, crime and social order. It gives room for the community and the police department to work together in addressing issues related to crime (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1994). The partners may include police, media, private businesses, community members and other government agencies.

Since much more is associated with the strategy, this research shall explore the issue of community policing extensively. Specifically, effectiveness of community policing will be highlighted. 2. 0 History of Community Policing in United States Community policing in US is one of the most popular topics as it is in other countries. It is funded by the federal government and established under the Violent Crime Act of the year 1994. Its services are supposed to focus more in the ways of preventing crimes and the same department is trained on how to prevent terrorism in the neighborhood and schools.

The department aims at effective use of physical environment in reduction of crime hence Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) (Fleissner, & Heinzelmann1996). Policing in US had gone through various reforms due to several changes that have been taking place in the society. There are three stages that are identified in the 19th and in the 20th century namely the political era, professional era and the community policing era. In the political era that is even before 1900, police were controlled by the politicians. They were quite aware of their neighborhoods and used to keep law and order in those neighborhoods.

However, the period was still characterized by corruption and the abuse of the immigrant’s rights (Wadman, 2009). After the political era, the profession era followed closely, between the years 1900-1970. The police were relying heavily on the technology such as automobile patrols, 911 emergency calls and radios. The police focused more on crimes and did not heed to other problems in the community. However, in the year 1970 the police department started addressing other problems in the society especially those that had developed during the professional era, marking the beginning of community policing era.

The reactive methods that were being used initially began to lose meaning as they never allowed enough investigations to be conducted. Towards the end of 1970, some researchers saw the need of using a problem solving approach and from then onwards, more researchers continued to contribute to the same (Fleissner, & Heinzelmann1996). 2. 1 Components of Community Policing The increasing recognition by the police and members of the community that the initial crime fighting techniques cannot effectively control crimes while used without back up has given rise to the community policing.

As highlighted in the introduction, the key components of the strategy are problem solving and partnership building. The first concept that will be discussed is the partnership building which is supposed to be built between the police and the community. In this concept, one of the goals is establishing and maintaining mutual trust between the community and the police. Since building of trust may take some time, the police are supposed to come up with activities that the community can participate in.

Building of trust may take a different duration of time depending on the type of community since studies of Bureau of Justice Assistance (1994), illustrate that building trust with a poorer community is difficult than with a more affluent community. It is only trust that can help the police access valuable information from the members of the area. In community policing, the society is viewed by the police as an equal partner in the process of controlling crime since members of the community investigate on the matters concerning crime and disorder.

To identify crime, the police officers and the community partnership make relevant consultations with both the business people and other residents. They may go to an extent of visiting people in their homes to offer security advice or even help them to organize watch groups. To maintain the partnership, the chief security officer maintains healthy communication between the police and the community as well as making the effort of explaining every tactic and effort that is being used by the police in the management of crimes.

The process of problem solving involves engaging in proactive and systematic examination of the already identified problems by the community to develop and study the most effective responses. The first step is identifying and prioritizing the problem which is usually done by the community. Then, extensive research is conducted concerning the problem including the causes of the same problem. After this, solutions are developed which can help reduce or even eliminate the problems.

Finally assessment is done which involves the evaluation the success rate of the responses used in solving the problem (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1994). 2. 3 Effectiveness of Community Policing Community policing like any other strategy, has had some positive impacts more so in America. A lot of studies have been conducted to investigate on the effectiveness of the same in the areas where the strategy is in use. It is therefore important to incorporate the research findings of these studies while discussing the effectiveness of the community policing.

In addition, the nature and the processes involved in the strategy still add up to the effectiveness of the strategy. Community involvement in policing strategies contributes a lot to the effectiveness of the strategy. Since the police works with the community at all levels, community input is highly regarded and contributes greatly to the effectiveness of the same. Members of the society are used to identify the crimes that need to be addressed. They are also given an opportunity to come up with the best response to address a specific crime.

Since they are actively involved in the whole process, they develop trust which in turn makes the work of the police easier. According to the studies of McDonald (2002), a sharp decline of violent and dangerous crimes has been recorded in the major cities in America. Although the same study indicates that community policing had little effect on the level of crime reduction, this decline can still be attributed to different approaches used in community policing since the changes were noted only after the police department shifted from the traditional mode of reactive policing to a community policing approach.

The reduction of crimes is just but one sign to illustrate that community policing is effective and has been, particularly in the United States. Since community policing engages the local communities, it can be very effective since people are always ready to take part in strategies that involve their safety. In a research that was conducted in the city of Detroit investigating the willingness of the community to take part in community policing, about seventy eight percent of the total population agreed that they were ready to work with the police (Tillman, 2000).

Having people who are ready to work with the police is the first step that can illustrate the effectiveness of the strategy since the tactic cannot be effective without the input of the community. In the city of Chicago, a research was still conducted to investigate the issue of community policing. The research indicated that since the strategy was established in the year 1993, major improvements concerning security have been noted (Tillman, 2000). The same studies record that the community was quite aware of the strategy and about 28 % had attended at least one meeting a year prior to the research.

A training program was established in the community and it was anticipated that the same group that attended the training would also take part in problem solving activities. Since the program used computerized crime mapping, it was possible for the police to access information concerning crimes which was important in developing crime patterns and matching the crime with various events and conditions as well as come up with appropriate prevention strategies eventually (Tillman, 2000). In the city of Chicago, the community policing strategy proved to be effective.

The members of the community were very much committed to the program and the police department as well. Despite the fact that there were problems relating to the same, more strategies were being developed with the help of the community as a means of improving the program. In the City of New York, community policing was found to be very effective since it led to the reduction of crimes. More specifically, the aim of the strategy in the area was to prevent crime by arresting all those people who committed the petty crimes.

In a certain occasion, a major frisking operation was conducted which was aimed at arresting those who were in possession of guns and other weapons illegally. As a result, the chief security officers reported that the rates of crimes related to murder dropped significantly. This illustrates that the effectiveness of the strategy results from the fact that it addresses all the conditions that can result to crime or criminal activities. For instance, in a housing estate, the strategy may focus on discouraging teenagers who gather idly.

Consequently, the same may lead to a reduction of crimes like robberies and drug dealing especially by teenagers. Despite the fact that the efforts of the police and those of the public are always geared towards one aim of crime reduction, there are specific activities that the police can carry out and those that the members of the public can accomplish. According to the studies of Fleissner & Heinzelmann (1996), police can conduct security surveys and enhance security by providing adequate lighting and the locks.

They can also inform the residents on the high risk areas as well as work with other agencies like the building of planers to enhance the security of residents. Likewise, the community can join an already organized watch program, carry out their own patrols to identify problems then take part in programs that improve safety appearance and use of public places. Such a collaborative effort is usually very effective since a lot is usually achieved through the same. Community policing is far much better compared to the traditional poling due to the drawbacks of the latter.

For instance, traditional policing is reactive such that the work of the officers is actually to handle crimes when they have already been committed other than crime prevention and it is incident driven since the police only work with limited information. Barely do the traditional policing use other means of solving the problem, other than invoking the criminal justice process. All these drawbacks in traditional policing strategy are solved in community policing strategy as it was developed mainly with an aim of solving the shortcomings. 2. 4 Challenges of Community Policing

Though a better policing strategy is required by all the communities, several obstacles have faced the implementation of the same. According to the studies of Chiou, (n. d), the biggest problem has been changing the already present culture in the police department. Before the implementation of the strategy, the police chief has to make the officers believe that the strategy is more effective than the traditional policing strategy. Most scholars believe a lot of officers tend to be resistant to the strategy due to the fact that it is not a unitary concept.

Different people have different perspectives of the strategy and there is lack of enough empirical evidence to support the assumptions that people do posses. In addition, the strategy requires the officers to assume some tasks which are quite challenging since they are required to fight crime and at the same time help citizens. This also increases the duties of a police officer and it sometimes becomes pretty hard for one officer to handle all the responsibilities. Critics of community policing argue that it sometimes interferes with the constitutional rights of the citizens especially where they are required to act as vigilantes.

The most important aspect in community policing is community support, without which the strategy cannot be carried out. Obtaining the support is quite challenging since the same community may have conflicting interests. For instance the youth and the older generation may have different views on the same problem. People who criticize the strategy argue that there is no empirical evidence to support that the neighborhood groups organized by the police help in crime reduction.

Since other government agencies are also important in implementing the strategy, it still becomes a challenge to solicit support from them all. Finally, evaluating the performance becomes a major challenge due to the fact the concept has not been adequately defined, and it lacks external validity. 3. 0 Conclusion and Recommendations If community policing can be carried out efficiently, it can be very successful and effective. Various studies that were conducted in New York City, Detroit and Chicago illustrate that its implementation in such places led to reduction of crimes.

Moreover, the same study indicate that a large proportion of the population were ready for the strategy for they had embraced it. Some used to attend the community meetings addressing the same issue and were satisfied with the contribution of the same. Where technology was used like in Chicago, a lot was derived from the same. The use computer technology in crime mapping increased the efficiency since the police could obtain the information about crimes more easily. Since the strategy addresses the major drawbacks of traditional policing, it ends up becoming more effective.

However, the implementation of an effective community policing strategy depends with how developed the police organization is. The studies of Chiou (n. d) suggest that for the strategy to be more effective, it is important for some changes to be made in the police department. The police satisfaction should be enhanced before public satisfaction. The police officers require skills that can help them identify and solve the community problems since all that is entailed in community policing demands a lot of skills.

With the relevant skills and passion, the police officer can easily perform his duties. In addition, the police need to change their mode of operation in order to obtain public acceptance and trust. It is also important to understand that communities are different and therefore studying them before implementation of the strategy can guarantee success. Bent on the fact that the strategy in question may be new in some communities, it bears noting that, there are some measures that can be taken to improve on the efficiency of its implementation.

Since a lot of the critics argue that there is lack of enough empirical evidence, more research needs to be done with regard to community policing. Word Count 2467


Bureau of Justice Assistance, (1994). Understanding Community Policing. Retrieved on 18th May 2010 from: http://www. ncjrs. org/pdffiles/commp. pdf Chiou, J. , (n. d). How to Reduce the Resistance of Implementing Community Policing. Retrieved on 18th May 2010 from: http://www. pra. cpu. edu. tw/paper/4/11. pdf Fleissner, D. & Heinzelmann, F. , (1996). Crime Prevention through Environmental

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