Community policing is defined as any method of policing that includes a police officer assigned to the same area, meeting and working with the residents and business people who live and work in the beat area. The citizens and police work together to identify the problems of the area and to collaborate in workable resolutions of the problems. Moving neighborhoods and communities toward solving their own problems, and encouraging citizens to help and look out for each other. To be successful, community policing requires the total commitment of the police, citizens and subgroups like business, media, political leaders and social service agencies and other institutions of the community. It is proactive, decentralized and personalized; it is full-service and works toward the goal of removing predators from the streets and solving long-term problems by dealing with the causes, not just reacting to the symptoms.
Community policing is based on the joint effort of citizens and police toward solving neighborhood problems which in turn satisfies the expressed needs of citizens and enhance the residents quality of life. The role of the community police officer is equivalent to the role of the critical social scientist, the facilitator and catalyst of problem solving activities. Through self-education and educating the residents, the officer plays both the expert and educator role without forcing the expert opinion upon the residents. The community policing officer assists the residents by meeting with them individually and in groups in hopes that communication will lead to some consensus of accepted action will be agreed upon and implemented by the residents. The major considerations in community policing are: citizen input into defining problems to be solved, citizen involvement in planning and implementing problem solving activities, and citizens determining if their felt needs have been met. Community policing is critical social science in action and is based on the assumptions of normative sponsorship theory.
The theory of community policing is based on normative sponsorship and critical social theory. Normative sponsorship theory declares most people are of good will and willing to cooperate with others to satisfy their needs. It proposes that a community effort will only be sponsored if it is normative (within the limits of established standards) to all persons and interest groups involved. One of the major considerations when attempting to initiate community development is to understand how two or more interest groups can have sufficient convergence of interest or consensus on common goals to bring about the implementation.
Each group involved and interested in program implementation must be able to justify and, hence, legitimize the common group goal within its own patterns of values, norms, and goals. The more congruent the values, beliefs, and goals of all participating groups, the easier it will be for them to agree on common goals. The participating groups, however, do not necessarily have to justify their involvement or acceptance of a group goal for the same reason. In community policing, critical social science is practiced and it assists police and citizens to gain an understanding of the quasi-causes of their problematic situation, which aid citizens to solve their own problems. Community Policing is the most widely used term for a loosely defined set of police philosophies, strategies, and tactics known either as problem-oriented policing, neighborhood-oriented policing, or community- oriented policing. Like the police-community relations movement, community policing stems from a view of the police as a multifunctional social service agency working to reduce the despair of poverty.
Like team policing, community policing is rooted in the belief that the traditional officer on the beat will bring the police and the public closer together. At the same time, it maintains the professional model's support for education and research. Instead of merely responding to emergency calls and arresting criminals, community-policing officers devote considerable time to performing social work, working independently and creatively on solutions to the problems on their beats. It follows that they make extensive personal contacts, both inside and outside their agencies. Community policing apparently has received widespread support at the conceptual level from politicians, academicians, administrators, and the media. It also has strong intuitive appeal with the general public.
Yet, community policing has encountered significant stumbling blocks at the operational level nearly everywhere it has been tried. Does community policing reach societies desired outcome and expectations? This is one of many questions we may have about the fairly new and controversial subject of community policing. The philosophy rests on the belief that people deserve input into the police process, in exchange for their participation and support. It also rests on the belief that solutions to todays community problems demand freeing both people and the police to explore creative, new ways to address neighborhood concerns beyond a narrow focus on individual crime incidents. While traditional methods of policing fail to provide desired levels of crime control and public safety, police departments across the Nation search for new and innovative ways to provide law enforcement services to their communities. In recent years, community-oriented policing has emerged as the method of choice for many law enforcement agencies.
As part of the conversion from traditional policing methods to community-orientated policing, agencies have become more reliant on a new breed of police officers better suited for performing proactive, citizen-oriented policing functions in their communities. Traditional policing focuses on reducing crime by arresting the bad guys. Not only does this risk demonizing everyone who lives in high crime areas, it requires relying on rapid response which makes it almost impossible for the police to avoid being strangers to the community. This concept also suffers from reducing the role of the law-abiding citizens in the community primarily to that of a passive by-stander. Community policing takes a different approach to crime, drugs, and disorder, one that can augment and enhance problem-oriented policing such as rapid response and undercover operations. One of the most obvious differences is that community policing involves average citizens directly in the police process.
Traditional policing patronizes the community by setting up the police as the experts who have all the answers. In contrast, community policing empowers average citizens by enlisting them as partners with the police in efforts to make their communities better and safer places to live and work. Many people may say that community policing is a program, but it really is not. A program has a beginning and an end as community policing should not.