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. To be effective, community policing should be guided by a positive relationship between the patrol officers and the members of that community (Community Policing Consortium, 1994).
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Community Policing in Dismal City
The Dismal City is diverse in nature due to the presence of ethnic minority groups. The city is currently experiencing high crime rates due to high unemployment levels and a rapidly growing population. The police department suffers from many problems including reduced budgetary allocation, overworked staff and low morale among the workers. Community policing can be effective in reducing the rate of crime in Dismal city but the police department must first address one crucial issue. This issue is the tension that exists between the police department and the neighborhood. 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 argues that, “including these “communities of interests” in efforts to address problems of crime and disorder can expand the resource base of the community,” (1994, p.14). An 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.
Community policing would go a long way in reducing the crime rate in the Dismal City. It would solve to some degree the problem of scarce resources currently faced by the department. Institutions existing in the City can use their own resources to fight crime. As a result, some tasks initially performed by the department would now be in the hands of the community. This would help to relieve the department’s staff of their work burden. In the end, the department would become more effective, the community would be involved in promoting their own safety and the City would become safer and more secure.
Community Policing Consortium. (1994). Understanding Community Policing. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Assistance.