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Police Public Relations vs. Community-Police Relations Essay

Differences Between Police Public Relations Programs and Police-Community Relations Programs Police-Community Relations programs and Police Public Relations programs are similar in many ways, but not are not identical or interchangeable, according to Barker, and Hunter in 2011. Police-Community Relations is a philosophy of police administration, which seeks to involve community and police in ongoing decision making concerning policies which impact both. Police Public Relations programs involve broader and more complex goals than Police-Community relations programs. One purpose of public relations programs is to develop and maintain a productive working environment for police departments to operate within, through informing the public about why officers and departments do what they do, and by enhancing their own public image as primarily community helpers and first responders, worthy of the public respect and cooperation that is necessary for police operations (Barker & Hunter, 2011). Programs strive to influence the following factions: the pubic in order to gain support; politicians, in order to gain funding; and staff, in order to gain consistency in operations (Barker & Hunter, 2011). Police-Community Relations programs, however, are aimed towards integration of community groups and police organizations into partnerships focused on combating both criminal and social problems (Barker & Hunter, 2011).

These programs determine types of services, implementation of programs, potential problem areas, and problem solving mechanisms (Barker & Hunter, 2011). Activities and processes of Police-Community Relations programs and Police Public Relations programs contrast as well. Police Public Relations program activities are standardized, repetitive, predictable, controllable, routinized, specialized, and agency oriented (Barker & Hunter, 2011). Information flows toward public only. Police-Community Relations programs must be flexible, reflexive, adaptable, and community oriented (Barker & Hunter, 2014). Extent of departmental involvement varies with both, however, agency breadth is narrow, compartmentalized, and specialized with Police Public Relations programs, and cross divisional with Police-Community Relations programs.

The City of Durham Public Relations Office in North Carolina, through a senior public affairs specialist, provides information to citizens about departmental activities , functioning through “community relations/special events, media relations, employee/internal communications and marketing communications”, and offers National Night Out Observance, a Ride Along Program, a Citizens Academy, and external projects, which educate the public and enhance community-police relations, according to the City of Durham website. It meets the definition for a Police Public Relations program, since information flows in one direction, and the program is agency-oriented, specialized, and has events that repeat annually, according to the following website : Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations, according to the Charlotte website, seeks “to develop trust and communications between officers and citizens”, working closely with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, utilizing a Police Complaint Review program, which addresses police misconduct and a Police-Community Relations Award program, recognizing 32 citizen groups and officers, who have made significant contributions to police-community relations. It meets the definition for a Police-Community Relations program, since information flows both towards, and from citizens, and the program focuses on the police-community relationship, and is community-oriented.


Barker, T., Hunter, R.. ( 2011). Police Community Relations and the Administration of Justice, 8th ed, Prentice Hall: Saddle River.

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