In past three decades, community-oriented policing (COP) and problem-oriented policing (POP) are being realized as new policing models replacing the more conventional policing models. The traditional policing models over the past 150 years are designed to endow with three key functionalities including control, order and prevention of crimes (Zhao et al., 2003). While POP is a strategy meant to solve persistent community problems, COP places more importance on the third core function, i.e. crime prevention, by creating awareness among individuals about crimes. COP entitles the law ownership to the people living in a community, therefore, it is not a single articulated phenomenon, rather, it includes a stratagem which relies on the conjecture that policing must engage and involve the community. Traditional strategies used in COP include foot patrols, store-front and mini-stations, geographical assignment officers, school resource officers and neighborhood based activities of crime prevention (Zhao et al., 2003). On the other hand, conceptual model that is followed in POP known as SARA consists of scan, analyze, respond and assess the problem solving policing strategies. POP varies from COP in its approach that police identify, evaluate and respond to the underlying circumstances that become the root cause of crimes and that create incidents (Goldstein and Herman, 1979). In short, both these models represent new ways of policing function. Nevertheless, they overlap with each other in that the community is often engaged to define their problems, identifying interventions and reaching preventions (Greene and Jack, 2000).
Probably, the most initial and ambitious community and problem-oriented policing efforts carried out was started back in the city of Chicago in1993 and named as Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS). A year after its commencement, CAPS model is stretched out from five neighborhoods to all across Chicago. CAPS incorporate both the aspects of problem-oriented and community-oriented policing (POP& COP). POP approach is employed by training the officers and community residents to use several problem-solving techniques. COP approach is employed by dividing patrolling officers into beat and rapid response teams. The aim of beat teams is to work and spend time with different community organizations, while the rapid response teams focus on taking 911 calls. The two prong structure compliment and strengthen the capabilities of both teams and compared to their traditional trainings, they can concentrate and respond to the problems more rapidly and effectively.
One of the major components of COP efforts in Chicago is the involvement of individuals in local beat meetings of CAPS. The city police department mentions the schedule of beat team meetings on their website. These beat meetings are organized on a regular basis, at least once in a month, in a community area such as a park, church or school. CAPS organizers run the meetings according to the agenda and make sure the participation of local individuals. Along with the involvement of local community, police plays an active role and are the decision makers in all the meeting resolutions. A small group of individuals named as ‘beat meeting activists’ constitute utmost importance in beat meetings. These activists promote and alleviate the participation of individuals in beat meetings and instill communal activism among them related to CAPS. This activism includes walks, rallies, marches, smoke-outs (food and other stuff) and prayer vigils. Any community member who attend beat meetings can ask and question about the local crimes and specific problems faced in their locality. They could also get themselves updated about the police initiatives against criminal activities. Moreover, they have a chance to meet with their neighbors who are also concerned about the safety of their community.
Beat activists make it sure that participation of community members is amplified whenever needed. The highest attendance in a beat meeting is observed an area where problems of bad housing, poor education and high level crime are faced. Although, beat activist tries to create awareness of beat meetings among all the residents beyond any residential differences, it has been keenly observed in several studies that the awareness level among the African-American residents of Chicago is highest.
In order to get awareness among local residents about the CAPS program and its effectiveness and outcome, several research studies are reviewed. A research study carried out in 1996 (Skogan and Wesley, G., 1996) studied the experiences of two groups over time and studies the change in their differential views to evaluate the COP based prevention efforts of CAPS model in Chicago. Radom sampling is done to gather data by conducting survey interviews of residents. The survey is conducted two times with a gap of 18 months to assess the change in their perceptions of crime. According to the evaluation, there is an improvement in all areas together with the decrease in street crimes and car theft in another. Moreover, several other crimes including the gang problems, graffiti, and drugs are also reduced in the areas where they were found to be crucial problems. Other evaluations of community-oriented policing services (COPS) grants have shown mixed results. However, these studies have evaluated the connection between crime rates and federal funding instead of looking at impact of a specific program community. According to Zhao, Scheider, and Thurman (2002), they have observed that COPS funding reduced property and violent crime in the Chicago city in particular and in overall U.S in general. Similarly, in another study (Evans and Owen, 2007) COPS funding resulted in a noticeable reduction in burglaries, robberies, auto theft and provoked assaults. On the contrary (Worral and Kovandzic, 2007), results showed that by taking into account preexisting effects of police funding, COPS funding had little or no impact on crime.
The Evaluations also proved that the POPS based problem-solving process is effective in the city. In one example, robberies are reduced by 40 percent in the central business district, and in another, the use of problem-oriented policing reduced the alcohol consumption and gun carrying in public and prostitution as well. A more recent meta-analysis by Campbell Collaboration (Weisburd et al., 2008) on the success of POP concluded that, though the effects are modest, POP is overall considered as effective and successful in the decline of crime. They also identified that more than 10 studies satisfy the inclusion criteria for meta-analysis, supported and complied with the results calculated in their work. However, either COP or POP is not the single rational strategy; rather, both of them can cover various programs or strategies that rely on the assumption that policing should involve residents in an attempt to make the crime prevention long lasting and successful. Recently (Rogers, Phil, 2013), Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and police chief Garry McCarty, vowed to invigorate the CAPS program in the Chicago. The central police office will be disassembled and resources will be shifted to all of the 25 police districts. In this new initiative, it has been planned that each police districts will be assigned one CAPS sergeant, a community organizer, a youth service provider and two police officers. Four citywide coordinators will keep an eye on community policing programs targeted at victim assistance, seniors, youth and victims of domestic violence.
Chicago’s alternative policing strategy (CAPS) initiative features several avenues for community’s participation and since its initiation, resident’s participations has been one of the major significant successes in preventing crimes. It has become evident that how important is the role of local organization and activation in the effectiveness and successfulness of policing. However, there are few concerns that neighborhood which lack infrastructure of supportive organizations will lag behind establishing the active growth and building partnerships with police department. In this regards, there is a room for improvement and efforts are needed to enhance the local involvement of residents in community beet meetings and problem-solving policing schemes should be strengthened. The recent pledge by Mayor and police chief to change and streamline the CAPS program is a positive initiative. By stimulating participation through networking and other organizational affiliations, both COP and POP based strategies can be further improved.
Zhao, Jihong Solomon, Ni He and Nicholas P. Lovrich. (2003). Community Policing: Did It Change the Basic Functions of Policing in the 1990s? A National Follow-Up Study, Justice Quarterly 20 (4):697–724.
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Jack R. (2000). Community Policing in America: Changing the Nature, Structure, and Function of the Police. Vol. 3, Criminal Justice 2000. Volume 3: Policies, Processes, and Decisions of the Criminal Justice System: NCJ.
Skogan, Wesley G. (1996). Evaluating Problem-Solving Policing: The Chicago Experience Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University, Institute for Policy Research.
Zhao, Jihong Solomon, Matthew C. Scheider, and Quint C. Thurman, (2002). Funding Community Policing to Reduce Crime: Have COPS Grants Made a Difference? Criminology & Public Policy 2 (1):7–32.
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Worrall, John L., and Tomislav V. Kovandzic. (2007). COPS Grants and Crime Revisited. Criminology 45 (1):159–90.
Weisburd, David, Cody W. Telep, Joshua C. Hinkle, and John E. Eck. (2008). The Effects of Problem-Oriented Policing on Crime and Disorder. In Campbell Systematic Reviews
Rogers, Phil (2013). "Emmanuel, McCarthy Aim to Change CAPS". NBC-CHGO.
Retrieved: 4/07/2013. Available: http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Emanuel-McCarthy-Aim-to-Change-CAPS-186084182.html