The e-newsletter of the COPS Office | Volume 1 | Issue 1 | January 2008

Community Policing Nugget

This month we offer a short discussion of the recently updated COPS Office definition of community policing. In the future, this space will be used to address specific aspects of the community policing philosophy.

Community Policing Defined

Community policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues, such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.

“Community policing is a philosophy”

Community policing is often misunderstood as a program or set of programs such as D.A.R.E.®, foot patrols, bike patrols, or police substations. Although each may be incorporated as part of a broader strategic community policing plan, these programs are not community policing. Rather, community policing is an overarching philosophy that informs all aspects of police business.

“that promotes organizational strategies”

Community policing emphasizes changes in organizational structures to institutionalize its adoption. Agencies should be aligned to support partnerships and proactive problem solving in areas such as training, hiring, reward and authority structures, technology, and deployment.

“which support the systematic use of partnerships”

Community policing recognizes that police can rarely solve public safety problems alone and encourages interactive partnerships with relevant stakeholders. The range of potential partners includes other government agencies, businesses, nonprofits, individual community members, and the media. These partnerships should be used to accomplish the two interrelated goals of developing solutions through collaborative problem solving and improving public trust.

“and problem solving techniques,”

Community policing emphasizes proactive problem solving in a systematic and routine fashion. Problem solving should be infused into all police operations and guide decision-making efforts. Agencies are encouraged to think innovatively about their responses and view making arrests as only one of a wide array of potential responses.

“to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues,”

Rather than responding to crime only after it occurs, community policing encourages agencies to work proactively develop solutions to the immediate underlying conditions contributing to public safety problems. Rather than addressing root causes, police and their partners should focus on factors that are within their reach, such as limiting criminal opportunities and access to victims, increasing guardianship, and associating risk with unwanted behavior.

“such as crime, social disorder and fear of crime.”

Community policing recognizes that social disorder and fear of crime are also important issues to be addressed by the police. Both significantly affect quality of life and have been shown to be important contributors to crime. It is also important for the police and the communities they serve to develop a shared understanding of their primary mission and goals. The public should be involved in shaping the role of the police and the prioritization of public safety problems.

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