While dealing with the increasing crime within the cities and societies, police use community policing as a police administrative strategy or a police strategic plan for crime control. Apart from the idea of using community policing as an administrative tool of supporting the law enforcement plans among the communities, police also use the community-oriented policing system to administer law enforcement plans (Mirsky, 2009). Although the community-oriented policing system entails several dynamics that determine the effective planning and execution of the law enforcement plans, the issue of the characteristics of a community as a determinant factor has been prevalent. Many people are still unaware that the characteristics of a community affect the community-oriented policing (Yuksel & Tepe, 2013). This paper is a literature review that seeks to examine whether or not the characteristics of the Hispanic communities affect the community-oriented policing plans.
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The Nature of Community Policing
Before delving into undertaking a literature review on whether the characteristics of a community affects the community-oriented policing plans or not, it is important first to understand the meaning and the nature of community policing. According to Mirsky (2009, p. 1), “community policing is the connection between police and citizenry, who work together on safety issues involving the public in the community.” As a strategic security control program, community oriented-policing entails several traditional and modern law enforcement plans where the police officers and citizen partnerships highly determine the effectiveness of a designed community-policing plan. Community policing also entails random patrols and investigations. Thus, from a definition perspective, community-oriented policing contains a philosophical phenomenon where the concepts of management, critical decision-making, and the characteristics of the involved communities largely determine the efficiency of a community-policing program.
Community characteristics and Communication
Since community-oriented policing entails a partnership law-enforcement plan between the police officers and the community members, philosophers argue that how communities behave often affects the community-oriented policing plans (Yuksel & Tepe, 2013). In many cases, police must communicate and plan the community-oriented policies with the community members, as community involvement in the partnership must always exist. The characteristic of community matters because communication is a key issue in the planning of the community-oriented policies. In a study, Mirsky (2009) reviewed the longtime relationship between the police officers and the minority American communities, whose abilities to communicate in fluent English are always miniature. After assessing five cultural studies from the recently published journals, Mirsky (2009) discovered that the minority communities have problems in communicating with the police officers, and hence, their active participation in the community policing plans often remains limited.
In the planning and implementation of the community policing strategies, the police and the communities involved must develop a mutual understanding where a straightforward communication exists (U.S Department of Justice, 2004). An effective community contact or outreach begins with effective means of communication where the police officers and the community members interact. Hispanics rarely manage to communicate well with the police officers because they have several different dialects and their communication in written or verbal means is sometimes a problem between themselves. When dealing with the Hispanic communities, communicating the ideas, plans, and strategies set for the planning and implementation of the community policing programs is therefore challenging.
The Element of Trust and Community Behaviors
The prevailing literature about community-oriented policing reveals that trust is a very vital component that affects the effectiveness and stability of the community policing programs. Although numerous factors determine the effectiveness of a community-policing plan, trust is very crucial. In a study concerning community-oriented policing, the United States Department of Justice (2004) wanted to expound on the understanding of community policing through an action framework. Using the term trust, to describe the nature of the association that should prevail between the police and the community members, the United States Department of Justice (2004) stated that community-oriented policing is a highly pragmatic process that requires an interactive process where strengthening the communities is often vital. The U.S Department of Justice (2004, p. 7) believes that “trust is the value that underlies and links the components of community partnership and problem-solving.”
The Hispanic communities have a natural eminence of trust amongst themselves and police officers dealing with the Hispanics can enjoy a high level of trustworthiness. In a cultural research study of the Hispanic and Latino communities, Carter, Yeh, and Mazulla (2008) examined the aspects of cultural values and the concept of racial identity among Latino and Hispanic students. The study involved 107 Latino college students, with half of them being second-generation immigrants (Carter et. al., 2008). The students participated in an English survey about their cultural lifestyle, where the majority of them revealed that their social relations often hinge upon trust as a binding element (Carter et al., 2008). Building a powerful community-oriented policing framework in an area dominated by the Hispanics can be successful because of the high level of trust, which is also an aspect that determines collaboration.
Elements of Commitment and Unity in Community Policing
The community-oriented policing plans rely on the commitment and unity of the society members to succeed. Commitment and unity between the police and citizens are two essential elements that drive community policing (Yuksel & Tepe, 2013). According to the U.S Department of Justice (2004), “each neighborhood officer must listen to the community members, and be willing to work with the community members to meet those needs” (p. 51). Police-citizen unity fosters a mutual collaboration. Communities with the characteristics of ensuring a high level of commitment to conventional traditions, provide a challenging environment for the success of a policing plan (Yuksel & Tepe, 2013). Their patriarchal structure and the ceremonial nature of the Hispanic families often impart the Hispanic individuals with the cultural virtues of adhering to carnivals, festivals, and holidays. This nature of a ceremonial lifestyle can negatively lead to laxity in communal commitment.
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In their study about the Latinos and the Hispanics living in the United States, Tienda and Mitchell (2004) discovered that the Hispanics and the Latinos have a high sense of community togetherness, are ceremonious, and are highly religious. These ethnic characteristics of the Hispanics highly interfere with their constant commitment to the programs and activities of the community-oriented policing. Since the traditions never exclude the working class or the elite, the commitment of the Hispanics remains affected by the cultural activities of their communities that sometimes take several days to end (Tienda & Mitchell, 2004). Since their history, Latino and Hispanics have often admired and regularly maintained their social structures and traditional cultural norms that have always affected their immigration and migration trends.
This research paper identified three major variables that determine or define the major facets of community development. According to the reviewed literature and theory about community policing, a successful community-oriented policing will always rely on the variables of communication, trust, and commitment. The people of the Hispanic society must possess good communication capabilities, must have trust that will prevail throughout the processes, and must remain committed to the plans of the community policing. The three major variables influenced the achievement of a perfect hypothesis that best explained the above-reviewed literature. Below is the hypothesis that informed the literature reviewed above.
H1: There is a relationship between good communication, which can be dependent on the individual’s community characteristics, and the efficiency of a community-oriented policing plan.
H2: There exists a relationship between trust, which can be dependent on the individual’s community characteristics, and the ultimate success of a community-policing plan.
H3: There is a positive relationship between community commitment or unity, which can be dependent on the individual’s community characteristics, and the efficiency of a community-policing plan.
According to the reviewed literature, it is possible to conclude that the characteristics of a community affect a police department’s community-oriented policing. With a special focus on the Hispanic communities living in the United States, it is possible to conclude that several cultural, ethnic, and religious practices can affect the performance of the community-oriented plans. The Hispanics tend to rely on the cultural practices of traditional festivals and carnivals, patriarchal family structures, and on the virtues of communal openness, friendliness, and togetherness. However, Hispanics have varied dialects and varied English communication capabilities. The traits often influence the community-oriented policing plans in various ways ranging from maintaining proper communication, maintaining trust, and fostering unity in the plans.
Carter, R., Yeh, C., & Mazulla, S. (2008). Cultural Values and Racial Identity Statuses among Latino Students: An Exploratory Investigation. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 30(1), 5-23.
Mirsky, I. (2009). Community Oriented Policing. Internet Journal of Criminology, 1(2), 1-14.
Tienda, M., & Mitchell, F. (2004). Hispanics and the Future of America. New York, United States: The National Academic Press.
The U.S Department of Justice (2004). Understanding Community Policing: A Framework for Action. Web.
Yuksel, Y., & Tepe, F. (2013). Citizen Satisfaction with Police and Community Policing. European Scientific Journal, 9(14), 29-48.