Community Policing: A Modern Approach

Community Policing is a strategy developed to aid in the war on crime. Instead of employing other tactics and initiatives, many branches of law enforcement have implemented and adopted this method to quell crime and build rapport of residents of any given neighborhood and village. Community policing varies greatly from traditional policing, which is often utilized in many metropolitan areas by responsive municipal departments.

Community policing is the concept of assigning several officers to a specific neighborhood section or a “beat” as it is called by many police aficionados. The theory behind community policing is that it serve as a great deterrent, helping officers cultivate cooperation from the community. Ideally, residents will establish rapport with their locally assigned officers and feel compelled to approach them if an incident were to occur. Furthermore, many criminologists anticipate extensive community involvement in detainments and arrests. Respectively, this type of interaction is not characterized by citizens playing the role of vigilantes. However, many believe that residents would be more inclined to testify in aiding an officer’s case and further develop a bond with their local officers, taking on an active role in preventing crimes from occurring.

Community policing is a public relations ploy that is far different than traditional policing. Traditional policing is contrived of patrol cars and radio runs. In many cases, the officers working a particular beat almost always vary. Some theorists believe that this is due to an infringement of the police acting as a neutral agent unbiasedly applying the law. Some fear that officers growing friendly and affable with residents will lead to less arrests by virtue of a defacto favoritism or nepotism from these very officers. As a result, many police officers are rotated throughout many sects and beats throughout their jurisdiction. A combination of both community policing and traditional policing was witnessed in New York City with the NYPD’s “Impact Program”. Impact was a program that focused on a heightened police presence in neighborhoods that were ridden with crime. However, the NYPD also hoped to establish rapport with residents by placing many officers on foot posts in these beats. The NYPD also made it an initiative to effectively rotate personnel. The NYPD may have felt they were getting the best of both worlds, but in fact the program failed.

Community policing is a positive public method of law enforcement. For some, it is an ideal imperative that gently coordinates cooperation between police officers and residents. Some of these interactions can lead to a bond forming between the community and its law enforcement agents. For some this is a great result, for others it is not. For proponents of traditional policing, community policing can lead to a reduction in arrests in an adverse fashion. In New York City, the “Impact” program was a failed experiment hoping to merge elements of both schools of thought. For those who desire to cultivate progress and deterrence in the community using affable means, community policing is the strategy of choice.

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