Prior to the widespread adoption of community based policing in the United States, police management followed a bureaucratic model. Traditional models of police management during the early nineties was “a bureaucratic, rigid chain of command, characterized policing in the USA” (Holian, 2007, p. 24). The traditional model characterized police management as reactive instead of the opposite and also slow and inefficient because decision making was bureaucratic and relied heavily on management. Due to the negative outcomes of the traditional model, experts urged the transformation of police management to bring about improvements, particularly the reduction of crime. The cornerstone of this transformation in police management since the 20th Century is the increased involvement of police officers and their close engagement with the community. This new strategy or practice was dubbed community based policing. Essentially, community based policing refers to the police management practice that bolsters police and community relations through constant interaction and feedback. As noted by Holian, “The prototypical example that captures well the flavor of community policing is assigning police officers to permanent foot or bicycle patrols, or beats, in specific geographical areas” (2007, p. 24). In doing so, police officers gain familiarity and knowledge about the community through experience and constant exposure.
Various factors affect community based policing. These factors could be internal or external. Internal factors include police management practices and the performance of those in management positions and employees. External factors include those beyond the law enforcement institutions. The following discussion focuses on the various external factors that affect community based policing, specifically technological development in relation to CompStat and the market economy. Based on the succeeding sections, technological development affects or influences community based policing because it contributes to the development of CompStat, a management model or system that highlights the importance of police institutions’ involvement within the community. Furthermore, the market economy could influence community based policing because institutions may integrate management systems in commercial organizations with police management practices and strategies. The following discussion also explores the potential impact of proactive policing as a means to improve community based policing.
Impact of Technological Development and Economic Models on Community Based Policing
Ideally, economic issues do not directly impact policing. Nonetheless, recent research studies and trends in police management reveal the positive effects of integrating policing and concepts in economics (Holian, 2007). According to Holian, one of the changes in external society that significantly impact community based policing involve economic issues, the integration of a market-based perspective during planning and implementation, and technological development. Digital revolution in policing began during the late eighties and nineties. “Some of the many positive developments of the 1980s and 1990s included the development of a computer revolution in policing involving communications, record keeping, fingerprinting, and criminal investigations” (Dempsey & Fort, 2013, p. 28).
In the US, police departments make use of CompStat. Technological development over the past two decades ushered innovations in various sectors including police management. CompStat was a result of innovations in policing (Greene, 2007). Existing literature define CompStat different but essentially, it refers to a management framework whereby decision making is based on collected statistical data. CompStat also emphasizes the importance of analytics in deriving meaning from statistical data and using information to identify problems, develop strategies to solve these problems, and improve accountability in police management. Analytics commonly involves an analysis of crime patterns, which would then be the bases for the development of solutions to curb crime (Ratcliffe, 2012).
William Bratton, then Police Commissioner in New York, introduced CompStat during the 1990s. Initially, CompStat referred to a computerized database that police departments used to trace and analyze crime statistics. Each precinct collected data and used Information Technology (IT) to analyze data. CompStat also involved regular meetings at the precinct level whereby the management and officers discussed the results and implications of crime statistics (Holian, 2007). CompStat follows four steps in the analysis and problem solving, as well as the implementation of strategies and practices in police management. The four-step process involves the following: timely collection of accurate and reliable intelligence, employment of efficient tactics as a response to intelligence previously acquired, deployment of resources, human or otherwise, to carry out tactics and strategies, and continuous assessment and follow-up of strategies and practices (Dempsey & Forst, 2013).
Holian (2007) discussed the link or relationship between community based policing and CompStat within the context of the market economy. Apparently, continued technological development and economic trends may inspire improved police management and consequently improve community based policing or even give way to its transformation and innovation. To support this argument, Holian looked to concepts in market economics. Holian discovered that the market economy is successful as proven by widespread capitalism because organizations and consumers with expert knowledge about products and services influence decision-making in the market. Hence, decision making is decentralized because it is shared by both organizations and consumers. Holian argued that this substantiates community based policing as a police management strategy because the former highlights the importance of community engagement. Furthermore, by applying the concept of decentralization in the market economy, police departments and people in the community share their knowledge and help one another make timely and better decisions that would benefit the majority (Holian).
Another aspect of the market economy that Holian (2007) discussed in his study is the incentive based system that organizations employ to manage human resources. In any organization, the management deals with human resources in different ways. Nonetheless, organizations share incentive based systems in motivating or encouraging the workforce to perform. Holian argued that police management must employ this strategy in order to strengthen the workforce especially since officers are expected to exert more effort in engaging or communicating with customers. For this reason, police management could learn and adopt strategies from market models in order to improve human resource management practices. To accomplish this goal, Holian recommended police management’s adoption of a management information system (MIS) implemented in commercial institutions. Through MIS, police departments could integrate community based policing and CompStat efficiently to bring about improved results. Holian suggested that police departments set measures of performance to evaluate the performance of employees. Part of these measures could be police officers’ contributions to CompStat such as collection of relevant data to guide analytics and decision-making. “Creating incentive system and using technology are key components to ensure decision-makers who have the best knowledge, and the right incentives, make choices” (Holian, 2007, p. 26).
Overall, Holian (2007) highlighted the importance of looking for ways to decentralize police management to strengthen community based policing and allow officers to accurately gather data or intelligence with the help of people in the community. Holian also recommended that due to rapid technological development, police management must also look into ways that this development could affect CompStat, whether for the better or for the worse. Innovation could help police departments continuously improve CompStat not only as an analytics mechanism but also as a management model. As formerly noted, police management must also adopt management models in commercial institutions particularly in developing and implementing incentive based systems to reward excellent performance and motivate police officers to healthily compete with one another and perform better (Holian).
Clarke (2006) also explored another concept that could potentially improve community based policing. According to Clarke, recent studies reveal concepts and theories that could influence policymaking and implementation in law enforcement. Essentially, these policies were highly influenced by community based policing. Nonetheless, in recent years, experts have also explored proactive policing as a potential concept to guide policymaking. Proactive policing refers to the strategic distribution or allocation of resources towards the objective of solving crime-related problems. Clarke argued that proactive policing supports community based policing because the latter facilitates the strategic deployment of human resources as a means to allow community involvement. Hence, proactive policing could potentially influence community based policing because it also relates to the strategic distribution of resources, human or otherwise (Clarke).
Clarke (2006) argued that integrating proactive policing and community based policing is important because the former could guide the effective deployment of police officers in the community. According to Clarke, proactive policing is primarily concerned with the targeted and strategic distribution of resources in order to resolve specific problems. Hence, proactive policing addresses demands in various aspects of police management. For one, proactive policing necessitates foresight such that police departments identify future problems and implement solutions early on in order to prevent potential risks or threats to operations. Furthermore, proactive policing supports CompStat operations in that it promotes the prioritization of intelligence or data collection to facilitate “knowledge-based decision making, allowing the targeting of resources and the disruption of prolific criminals” (Clarke, 2006, p. 4). Another aspect of proactive policing is that it forces management to assessing current situations in order to determine specific problems and to address them immediately through the appropriate and strategic allocation of resources. In the process, proactive policing also involves constant evaluation and assessment because the management needs to determine if allocation or distribution of resources meets demands and solves identified problems or manages risks and threats (Clarke).
Considering the abovementioned aspects of proactive policing, Clarke (2006) discussed five concepts that must influence crime management, and therefore, community based policing. First, police management must prioritize proactivity over reactivity. Hence, in community based policing, officers must prioritize the timely collection of data or intelligence for early detection and prevention of crime. Second, management teams must implement strategic practices to direct workflow and operations, as well as manage and distribute resources based on problems, demands, availability of these resources, and priorities. Third, police management prioritize the collection of intelligence, and therefore, the storage, transfer, and analysis of data. Fourth, police management reduces the law enforcement institution’s reliance on reactive measures. Fifth and finally, police management values outcomes of performance. Hence, it involves constant evaluation or assessment of performance with the objective of rewarding or providing incentives for positive performance and continuous training and skill management for performance that falls short of the standards.
Development of Issue Aforementioned
The aforementioned issues could potentially influence community based policing such that technological development and market economy models could transform police management practices and strategies. As formerly noted, technological developments could influence community based policing particularly in police departments that rely on systems such as CompStat. CompStat is essentially a management model but as a practice, it refers to the use of analytics to determine patterns in crime. Consequently, results of intelligence and data analytics help police officers make decisions to guide strategic operations including the allocation of resources. Since CompStat makes use of technology, technological developments would change practices such that innovation would affect systems and facilities that police departments would use. In this case, police departments would have to allocate funds to acquire and install new technological systems to improve CompStat as a system. Market economics would also affect community based policing. The former discussion highlighted the potential influence of market models on police management, specifically in handling resources. Since community based policing relies heavily on human resources, police departments could adopt market management models in order to improve the performance of human resources through the implementation of incentive based systems. Finally, the integration of proactive policing to community based policing will similarly improve the latter. Proactive policing constitutes new ideas, concepts, and strategies that could improve community based policing because it emphasizes the importance of strategic distribution of resources. Overall, all the foregoing factors could affect community based policing in a way that would improve performance and outcomes in crime prevention and risk or threat management in this sector.
Clarke, C. (2006). Proactive policing: standing on the shoulders of community-based policing. Police Practice and Research, 7(1), pp. 3-17.
Dempsey, J. & Forst, L. (2013). An introduction to policing. Florence, KY: Cengage Learning.
Greene, J. R. (2007). The encyclopedia of police. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.
Holian, M. (2007). CompStat, community policing and the science of success: A market-based approach to police management. Economic Affairs, p. 23-29.
Ratcliffe, J. H. (2012). Intelligence-led policing. New York, NY: Routledge.