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Community-Oriented Policing Definition

Community policing has gained impetus in the recent past in an effort to enhance the safety of the public and the quality of life in communities. This new approach is especially important in this era of recession, high unemployment rates, and increased crime. Frequent budget cuts and a low number of police staff have propounded the insecurity problem faced by many communities. In addition, issues such as illicit drugs, criminal gangs, immigration and diverse ethnic groups have added to the pressure faced by law enforcement authorities. The approach of community policing as well as the strategies used and its implementation vary widely depending on the requirements and the reactions of communities. However, the objective of community policing is to minimize the level of crime in a neighborhood by assessing the features of the problems that plague that particular neighborhood and then implementing problem-solving techniques. A national community policing policy can be pursued following several implementation strategies including: community partnership, problem solving approach, open communication and resources.

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Community partnership

Community partnership entails implementing a policing outlook that goes beyond the emphasis laid on the standard law enforcement. The law enforcement authorities acknowledge the necessity for the community’s participation. Members of the community should therefore be encouraged to assist the police officers in combating crime by giving out any information concerning criminals and criminal activities that take place within their neighborhoods. As such, the police should be seen as an essential part of the community at large. This perspective acknowledges that certain activities taking place in a community can greatly lead to the orderliness and security of the community, for instance, provision of assistance to victims of crime or accidents and acting as mediators in neighborhood disputes. When local people participate in activities that are normally carried out by the police department, trust is inclined to develop between the local residents and the police department. This trust is important in community policing because it makes it possible for the law enforcement authorities to gain easy access to valuable information that could assist them in fighting against crime in the community (Community Policing Consortium, 1994).

Community policing cannot be effective without a harmonious working relationship between the police department and the community. The community must have trust in the police and the community must also cooperate with the police department. Once this is achieved, the department can make use of the institutions that exist within the City and which are also interested in the safety and security of the neighborhood. These institutions include schools, churches, health institutions, business communities and public and private agencies. The Community Policing Consortium (1994) argues that, “including these “communities of interests” in efforts to address problems of crime and disorder can expand the resource base of the community,” (p.14). To some extent, the involvement of “communities of interests” in the policing process stems from the fact that some criminal activities such as organized crime cannot succeed in a community without funding and permission from such institutions such as businesses. Hence some of these institutions may be well conversant with the criminal activities in their neighborhoods (Stohl, 2008). Another important reason for involving the community in law enforcement is the obvious fact that criminals live amongst other law-abiding members of the community. As a result, some community members are aware of some of the criminals, their hide-outs and the kinds of criminal activities they are involved with. In addition, the members of the community are in close proximity to the criminals. If a crime occurs, it is the members of the community who can easily identify the crime and apprehend the criminals before the police officers arrive. This issue is particularly important when dealing with criminal/terrorist gangs who tend to work from particular areas of community and who may be well known to the community members. Stohl (2008) argues that, “criminal networks are generally located in ethnic communities that offer cover, concealment and a constant supply of recruits,” (67). To address such a grave problem, the police department would have to build a trusting relationship with the community members to an extent that the members become willing to convey crime-related information to the police without having any fear.

Problem solving approach

Problem solving in community policing goes beyond simply the eradication of crime in a community. Community Policing Consortium (1994) states that, “crime and disorder can be reduced in small geographic areas by carefully studying the characteristics of problems in the area, and then applying the appropriate resources,” (p.17). In community policing, problem-solving recognizes that there are some underlying factors that support the existence of a particular crime in a given neighborhood. For example, a certain neighborhood may be more prone to burglaries than an adjacent neighborhood simply because in the former neighborhood, the residents are rarely at home during specific times of the day and their homes also lack burglar-proof devices. This situation may easily attract burglaries who know that it would be easy to break in steal without being caught. Therefore for community policing to be effective, members of the community should identify on the inherent factors that attract certain criminal activities to their neighborhoods. Once this is done, they should work together with the law enforcement authorities to find solutions to the existing problems. An important point that should be made here is the fact that the community’s perception concerning the order of priorities of existing problems may differ from those of the police. The police in charge of a community may, for instance, think that the problem of robbery is more pressing to the community than the problem of drug abuse. The community on the other hand may find the problem of drug abuse to be more pressing than that of robbery. Therefore, if the police were to work without the assistance of the community, they are most likely to adopt policies that would address the problem of robbery at the expense of the drug abuse problem. Such a strategy may end up being ineffective to the community because the community’s most pressing need would remain unresolved. It is therefore important for the police to engage the community to find out which problems are most pressing. Together with the community, the police should then find the solutions to the problems in their order of priorities. Only then can community policing be effective and helpful to the local people.


Communication is a crucial element in a successful community policing initiative. This is because community policing involves an array of individuals as well as organizations including businesses, churches, schools, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and the police department among others. A public awareness program is therefore a necessity to educate the general members of the public of the concept of community and the roles that each individual and organization is supposed to play. Besides the public awareness program, regular communication is required to encourage the members of the community to actively take part in the policy and to minimize resistance or antagonism. Successful community policing initiative requires accurate, timely, and direct information between the members of the community and the police department. As a result, the lines of communication both within the police department and between the police department and the community should be kept open at all times (Community Policing Consortium, 1994).


The long-run success of community policing in combating crime depends on the readiness of the local governments to practice an effectual integration process. The community policing initiative drafted by the police department should be made available to the local government’s officials who should make sure that they understand and take part in the initiative and its implementation strategy. At the local level, the government’s officials should participate actively in the initiative by directing the available resources towards this initiative even as the police department looks for the best alternatives of addressing the community’s problems. The police department does not have the capacity to address all the community’s security needs. It therefore requires the assistance of other partners both at the government and non-governmental level. These partners can provide the necessary resources required in the fight against crime. For instance, health organizations can provide health-related services, while human resource personnel can provide community-oriented policing training to the police and community-based organizations. National and state-level governmental organizations can also play important roles particularly in providing resources such as funding that are unavailable or limited at the local level (Community Policing Consortium, 1994).

Reference List

Community Policing Consortium. (1994). Understanding Community Policing. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Assistance.

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Stohl, M. (2008). Networks, terrorists and criminals: the implications for community policing. Crime Law & Social Change, 50, 59-72.

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