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The Concept of Community Policing

Community policing is a successful and innovative law enforcement concept. A community can be described as a group of people with a common interest that is understood geographically. This shared value or interest brings together elements of solidarity, commitment, mutuality and trust (Harris, & Welch, 2009). Policing on the other hand is enforcing the law and ensuring social and public order through legitimate means. Community policing therefore, is the partnership between police force and the community in identifying and solving problems of safety in the neighborhoods. In this concept community members are able to air their concerns, give advice to security forces, give information to police officers and take action to address these concerns according to Understanding Community Policing.

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The concept of community policing has gained momentum due to increase in crime and disorder in many communities according to the above site. Moreover, policing approaches of the past are not effective in the modern world where communities and the nature of crime are always changing and government is not able to allocate adequate resources in the budgets of the police force. This has made community policing concept more appealing to local and national governments and the communities across the nation. A relationship based on trust between the police and the community members is important in order for closer ties that will help the police to access information to solve or prevent crime from happening. This is the very core of the concept.

Effective and successful community policing embraces two components: community partnership and problem solving (Harris, & Welch, 2009). In community partnership, there is need for cooperation between the police and the citizens. This will call on the police to get involved in activities that may be above and beyond the standard law enforcement practices, for instance, helping resolve family and neighborhood conflicts, involvement in improving neighborhood conditions, protecting the exercise of constitutional rights, being model citizens among others. These create trust between them and the community which in return help them gain greater access to information, support for needed crime control measures and establishment of a closer working relationship with the community. On the aspect of crime solving, the officers are able to understand the characteristics of people involved for instance the potential victims, offenders; the social and physical settings setting in which people interact and manipulate them so that people are prevented to be offensive.

An example of successful community policy implementation is in the community policing of Chicago a two year plan started in April of 1992 called Chicago’s Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) which was field tested in five districts in Chicago (Skogan, 1995). It was designed to increase the responsiveness of police problem solving by involving the public and involving the public in identifying the neighborhood problems and seeking solutions to them. The study reported a significant decrease in crime and disorder in all the studied districts as perceived by the residents. Previously identified problems such as gang violence, drug dealing and littered streets/ sidewalks were said to be improved. Positive attitudes towards the police were reported by both the white and African-American residents and the police responsiveness said to have increased. Forging of relationships among the police, private organizations and public agencies in solving problems was also reported and that implementation of solutions was most successful where citizens were organized and had strong leadership.

However, there are factors that might cause community policing to fail. These include distraction by organizational issues in the police force, resistance of community policing by both the citizenry and police officers. The reasons included citizens’ fear of retaliation by drug dealers and criminals and police officers think that it is more time consuming and that their power to enforce law is limited, and the overall perception that the project is short-term (Harris, & Welch, 2009).

Community policing is the new alternative to traditional law enforcement as the later is considered a failure in its incapacity to fight the ever changing nature of crime and criminals. Participation for both law enforcement officers and the community is important and also closer ties which promote trust between the two parties.

References

Harris, P.W. & Welch, W.N. (2009). Criminal Justice: Policy and Planning. LexisNexis Group. Skogan, W.G. (1995). Community Policing in Chicago: Year Two. N.I.J.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 8). The Concept of Community Policing. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-concept-of-community-policing/

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