Community policing has attained momentum over the past recent years as community leaders and police seek to have effective ways to enhance public safety and to promote the quality of life in the society. Sheriffs, chiefs and other police leaders have assessed the changes in the structures, operations and orientation, which will enable them benefit the societies they serve by enhancing the service quality. Community policing includes various practical and philosophical approaches and is still evolves dynamically. Strategies of community policing vary distinctively depending on the responses and needs of the communities involved. However, certain fundamental considerations and principles are common to all efforts of community policing. Policing strategies which worked well over the past decades are not effective at the moment. The desired objective; an improved sense of security, well-being and safety has not been realized. Practitioners agree that there is need to be innovative in preventing crises in several communities. The nature and level of crime alongside the ever dynamic character of communities have forced the police to find effective methods (Palmiotto 1999).
In this dynamic context, where the police tackle the epidemic of gang activities, drug problem and increased violence levels, the idea of community policing is proving effective. This approach of community policing in handling issues of crime and disorder maximizes and enhances resources and performance of the police. Police leaders using it have realized a responsive chord in the local and national governments and across communities. Leaders are starting to realize that they should accept the responsibility of keeping their societies safe. Communities should take a united ground against violence, violation of the law, and crime and should be committed to raising the crime-prevention and intervention efforts. The law enforcement agencies should help build a self-sufficient, strong community which crime and disorder will not prosper.
The implementation of community policing requires changes to be made on the management and structure of the police agencies. Since crime prevention and control are the primary objectives, community policing employ various practices in addressing these objectives. The community and the police have partnered in order to effectively identify and mitigate the primary causes of crime. Nevertheless as Casey (2010) states there are various conditions which the implementation of the community policing. These conditions impact negatively or positively the policing practices. This paper critically examines each condition, discussing how it affects the police practices.
Conditions affecting the police practice
A more useful approach to the understanding of the implementation of community policing can be obtained from identifying the conditions which are probable to impact on the police practices These conditions include stability and community cohesion; salary, motivation and morale of police; trust in the police; political commitment and will; enough resources for implementing change; strong links with community organizations.
Stability and community cohesion
The political and shared values greatly impact on the practices of policing. A jurisdiction should have attained a substantial level of political stability and shared values. No matter how it is defined, attaining the police outreach and collaboration with the society will be problematic in situation of political confusion or if the community is fragmented by factionalism. For the process to be effective a reliable platform which enables the police to work with the community should be existent.
Pay, motivation and morale of police
Community policing requires the introduction of basic and comprehensive changes to the police force. The efforts of the law enforcement agencies should support the evolving responsibilities of the police officers. The police who are underpaid and have low levels of morale as a result of perilous management issues and impunity are paid and have low morale as a result of serious management problems and corruption may not be motivated to work with the community. The low pay may also mean that police force seem to recruit lowly-educated police from extremely marginalized areas of society. This may lead to a public disrespect of the police force as an occupation and for the officers themselves.
Trust in the police.
Police trust is a desired result of community policing; however, there is an oxymoron that trust in the police is also a primary condition which must be met for community policing to be successful. Establishing and maintaining mutual trust is an important component of community partnership with the police. The police need to build long-term relations with the community which includes all aspects of the community and concentrated on the basic issues of quality of life and public safety. The key to attaining these relationships is trust. Law enforcement agencies should engage in activities such as assisting crime or accident victims, offering emergency medical services, resolving neighborhood and domestic conflicts, working with local businesses and residents to enhance the conditions of neighborhood, managing pedestrian and automobile traffic, offering emergency referrals and social services to individual at risk, safeguarding the constitutional rights of individuals and creating a citizenship model. These services assist in building trust between the community and the police which in return will allow the police to access important information from the community which could result in the prevention and solution of crime problems, and will prompt support for the required crime-control procedures; providing officers with an opportunity to formulate a working partnership with the community as it is the backbone of community policing. The people should have a conviction that the police efforts are genuine and that they can have dialogues with the police before they get to work together (Kappeler & Gaines 2012).
Political commitment and will
The success of community policing in changing the police profession relies on the political will to trail effective integration. Government and police administrators should understand the implementation strategy of the law enforcement agency and engage in its development. There should be a clear commitment from the leaders of the law enforcement agencies and government officials, to reform activities in community policing, and other efforts which increase accountability in the police force. The leaders should also support firm actions on vital contextual issues such as violation of human rights, corruption, and excessive use of force. For the community policing to be successfully implemented, there should be proper deployment of officers, consistent supervision, adequate training in the light of community policing, and the adoption of appropriate performance evaluation and reward systems within the police (Casey 2010).
Enough resources for implementing change.
Community policing requires dynamic changes to be undertaken in the police force such as the training and support of officers and redesigning of police stations to enhance public access. In order for these reforms to be conducted, there must be sufficient resources. Just as the law enforcement agencies need to define the best methods to solve and respond to issues of violence and crime, leaders should seek to establish proper channels of directing the available resources at these critical social issues. The police alone do not have sufficient resources to respond to these contemporary problems; however community policing can be a facilitator for the resource mobilization as well as a beneficiary. An early support mobilization is critical to the success of community policing. Internally, leaders of law enforcement agencies should develop support at all levels of the agency; externally they should revamp the support of the government, non-governmental organizations, other law enforcement agencies and the media. The cooperation of these units of the society is vital to a successful implementation of the community policing approach. A lack of commitment from their side could subject the community policing efforts to failure (Palmiotto 1999).
Strong networks of community organizations.
Several strategies and practices related to community policing can only be implemented successfully if the community organizations within the jurisdiction work effectively with the law enforcement agency. Collaboration between the police and non-governmental institutions and agencies constitute another important asset of the community which should be attained. The police administrators should involve the leaders of the community organizations in the training sessions on community-based policing as they are agents of the society. This stimulates continuous input, evaluation and feedback from the internal and external environment of the police which is crucial to the success of community policing.
As discussed, community policing has emerged over time as an effective approach to combat crime. This approach of community policing in handling issues of crime and disorder maximizes and enhances resources and performance of the police. The implementation of community policing requires changes to be made on the management and structure of the police agencies. Since crime prevention and control are the primary objectives, community policing employ various practices in addressing these objectives. However for a successful implementation of community policing a number of conditions must be met, namely: stability and community cohesion; salary, motivation and morale of police; trust in the police; political commitment and will; enough resources for implementing change; strong links with community organizations
Casey, J. 2010, Policing the world: the practice of international and transnational policing, Carolina Academic Press, Durham, N.C.
Kappeler, V. E., & Gaines, L. K. 2012, Community Policing a Contemporary Perspective, Elsevier Science, Burlington.
Palmiotto, M. 1999, Community policing: a policing strategy for the 21st century, Aspen, Gaithersburg, Md.