The police protect people and enforce laws. However, nowadays, in some communities, police officers do not consider protecting people to be the main task of their job. Instead, they abuse people, especially those with different skin color or religious views. Moreover, some of the police officers use their job to take bribes. In recent years, there have been several cases of such police officers’ misconduct. This thesis is aimed at examining whether community policing leads to less abuse police authority or not. The paper will be divided into two parts. The first part will be devoted to the issue of community policing in general. In the last part of the paper, based on the previous research, I will suggest that community policing can help prevent police abuse in communities.
Community-based policing refers to policing models that promote partnerships between police and communities to address community concerns and ensure that the police respond to the needs of the broader public. Community policing is a strategy developed at the end of the last century. The strategy is aimed at tight cooperation of police officers and citizens. However, in spite of high expectations and widespread support for this type of policing, the impact of such approaches on police authority abuse and accountability has not been clearly established. In terms of anti-police authority abuse benefits, some argue that bringing police forces closer to the community is likely to strengthen the accountability of the police to the public. Others consider that community policing could create more opportunities for authority abuse/unethical practices by promoting closer ties between the police and the community and providing opportunities for long-term personal interactions, preferential treatments and the development of corrupt networks.
Although the strategy was officially adopted only in 1994, citizens of the country tried to protect their rights since the second half of the last century. In the 1960s, it was noticed that most cases, such as murders, were not reported to police. The crime rates were rising, however, the police statistics remained the same. Besides, the civil rights movement increased citizens’ interest to police officers’ work. Also in the 1960s, a due process revolution was also occurring, and the country was demanding: improved police-community relations; increased education for officers; diversity in the ranks, and; controls on police discrimination.
According to COPS, community policing is comprised of three key components:
“1) Community partnerships, consisting of collaborative partnerships between the police and the individuals and organizations they serve to develop solutions to problems and increase trust in police;
2) Organizational transformation involving the alignment of organizational management, structure, personnel and information systems to support. In the United States, community policing has become a widespread model of policing, and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) has been created by the Justice Department to support innovative work in Community Policing community partnerships and collaborative/pro-active problem- solving;
3) Problem-solving defined as the process of engaging in pro-active and systematic examination of identified problems to develop and rigorously evaluate effective responses.” (n.a., Community policing defend)
The advantage of community policing is that it allows police officers and citizens to work together as partners to prevent crimes. In the first scheme presented in the appendix, it is easy to notice the main elements of community policing elements. Community partnership is one of the most significant elements of community policing. In the previous part, it has been mentioned that people fear to file a complaint against police officers. (Packman, 2010) The partnership is significant because every citizen should understand that police officers should perform their work according to law. Besides, citizens should understand that there are too many police officers who abuse their power, and honest police officers are always ready to protect citizens. They should collaborate and try to cooperate to decrease the crime rate and the amount of abusive police officers in the district. Moreover, if police officers cooperate with citizens, it will be easier to find a criminal, and to investigate a crime.
There are several more advantages of community policing. First, police departments need information that citizens have. Sometimes neighbors know a lot about each other but the police are unaware. However, if a crime is committed, not every person will be able to witness or tell everything about neighbors (in most cases, because of fear to be hurt for too much information). On the other hand, when a person cooperates with police, he, or she will fearless tell all the rumors about a person. The point is that cooperating with police department, an individual feels protected. Another advantage is that the cooperation with citizens may help police officers decrease the amount of work in the police department. The point is that police job is not only law enforcement; there are many other tasks to do. Every citizen will be glad to help police. Besides, citizens may help prevent some crimes and even decrease the crime rate in the district.
However, there are several disadvantages of community policing. The main disadvantage that it takes much time to establish trust-based relations. In the appendix, Graph 2 presents the correlation of cases of police authority abuse and the amount of complaints filed in such cases. Hence, the issue of trust if rather significant in this case. A citizen cannot trust a police officer knowing, or even believing, that he or she may abuse powers. Besides, involving into police officers work may take too much time, money and effort. A volunteer should take special trainings to get knowledge to support police officers. Moreover, some police officers consider such work boring.
Community policing and police authority abuse
The survey was conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice and was done throughout the United States. The table in the appendix, present the data on the survey. Some researchers suggest that police officers are trusted more when they cooperate with ordinary citizens (Casady). Most of the citizens of the United States of America think that police officers will abuse their authority less if they are observed by a non police officer. The aim of the research was to suggest that community policing would help to decrease the amount of cases of police authority abuse. The point is that the partnership, a significant part of community policing, means that police officers and citizens cooperate and share information. Moreover, I think that police officers are less likely to abuse their authority because the point is that being a police officer is honorable; such work brings not only respect but a great responsibility, as well. A person is responsible for others’ lives. A police officer, who abuses one’s power, perhaps, has never thought about the job from such point of view. However, when working with ordinary citizens, such police officer will better understand his/her responsibility.
Nowadays police departments strive to encourage citizens to join them. In my opinion, community policing is the best way to decrease the amount of police officers who abuse their power. When community policing is implemented into social life, the amount of police authority abuse cases will decrease. It has been already mentioned that police officers will be afraid to abuse power. (Williams, 2010) There are two reasons for that: chiefs of departments and citizens. When cooperating with volunteers, it will always be a fear that someone can find out about illegal conduct of an officer. In turn, rumor may occur. On the other hand, volunteers may file a complaint against such police officer. In the end, such individual will have nothing to do, but change place of living and job. Indeed, this will not help. First, rumors spread fast, and the second reason is that such police officer will not be allowed to protect the law anymore. Besides, if a complaint is filled, such a police officer will be imprisoned. (Williams, 2010) The data, presented in the appendix, show that police authority abuse has become a serious problem nowadays in the United States of America. The peculiarity is that in the end of the last century police officers used only to take bribes to save someone from jail or “forget” the limit exceed. However, nowadays, there are even enterprises built by police officers to protect criminals from being imprisoned. Moreover, I tried to analyze the community policing strategy. I suggested that community policing, indeed, could lead to decreasing the police authority abuse. There are several challenges that community policing strategy may face. The point is that there are many challenges of community policing and police authority abuse preventing. The first, and the main challenge, is bribery. The point is that there are several kinds of bribery, such as street bribery, bureaucracy bribery; moreover, some police officers built their own criminal enterprises that were aimed at protecting criminals. In some cases, it is difficult to prove something. Hence, volunteers should strive to change the situation. In my opinion, street bribery is the most dangerous kind of bribery. The point is that the amount of money given to a police officer is not big. Besides, sometimes, street bribery become a highway bribery. In such cases, it is even more difficult to prove something, because there are no volunteers to watch for a police officers, as well as cameras to record the bribery-giving act.
Community policing is an effective way to prevent not only police authority abuse cases, but crimes in a community, as well. Some researchers suggest that zero tolerance is one of the key points of community policing. Every volunteer should remember that no crime should be ignored, especially, police authority abuse crimes. Obviously, there is no single opinion among lawyers on this issue. Some suggest that community policing cannot prevent any crime, especially the police abuse crime. However, I suggest that community policing is useful. I have already mentioned that when there are volunteers, who observe their work, police officers will be cautious to make a mistake. If a community is small, a police officer who has committed a crime, will not be respected any longer. Moreover, there will be rumors in the community, and such a police officers will not be trusted any longer.
In this thesis, I tried to suggest that community policing could help to reduce the amount of cases of police authority abuse. To support my point of view, I used different sources. Moreover, there are several schemes, graphs and tables in the appendix that can help understand the situation better. obviously, community policing is a difficult issue and cannot be perfect. There are advantages and disadvantages of such a model of policing. Moreover, there are several challenges that can help make the model better. The main disadvantage of community policing is that not every police chief knows what it means. Hence, community policing model in every city or town is based on its own rules and regulations. Hence, I suggest that community policing can decrease the amount of police authority abuse cases, although, the policing model should be clearly outlined and clarified to police chiefs. There are many reasons why community policing can reduce the amount of police authority abuse cases. However, I should admit that the main reason is the control. The point is that police officers are people, who have fear before those who observe them. hence, a police officer will be afraid to overuse power when observed by a citizen.
Packman D (2010) 2010 Q2 NPMSRP National Police Misconduct Statistical Report. Retrieved from http://www.policemisconduct.net/2010-q2-npmsrp-national-police-misconduct-statistical-report/
Weisburd D., Greenspan R. (2010) Police attitudes towards abuse of authority. National Institute of Justice
Williams H., (2010) The abuse of police authority. National study of police officers’ attitudes. Police Foundation