To provide feedback on the Community Policing Dispatch, e-mail the editorial board at CPDispatch@usdoj.gov.
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
The COPS Office is pleased to feature the Stockton (California) Police Department (SPD) as the December 2018 winner of the Community Policing in Action Photo Contest. The winning photo shows two SPD downtown bicycle officers helping a young man navigate the city.
Stockton has a culturally vibrant population that has earned it a reputation for being a melting pot—which, according to Chief Eric Jones of the SPD, “serves as a point of pride” for Stockton’s residents.
Through difficult economic times, the SPD has embraced community policing. “Regardless of your budget and staffing levels, you can still do community policing work as long as you make it a priority. If it’s a priority and a philosophy, it’ll work for you,” says Chief Jones.
Since 2012, Stockton has displayed a pattern of steady improvement, including lower crime rates and a police department staffed nearly to full capacity. Chief Jones credits the SPD’s relationship with the Stockton community, as well as the department’s dedication to community policing, as the major reasons for this improvement. When asked how the SPD has cultivated such a strong relationship with its community, Jones cited three of Stockton’s ongoing community policing–oriented programs:
The Community Advisory Board
SPD personnel and Stockton community members that meet on a monthly basis to discuss police-community relations and community policing issues that are specific to trust building.
Intelligence Communication and Planning (I-CAP)
The SPD analyzes collected data, discusses how the department should deploy its resources, and brainstorms how the department can build and cement trust.
The Neighborhood Impact Team
SPD officers, community service officers, chaplains, and volunteers who are all responsible for making sure that community members know that they are the SPD’s first priority, because, as Chief Jones puts it simply, “it’s the right thing to do.” In the event of a significant issue or tragic incident affecting Stockton, the team deploys into the community the following day to help alleviate any concerns related to crime and the SPD’s responses. “Just because crime scene tape has been taken down doesn’t mean we’re not still there,” Chief Jones explains.
Chief Jones emphasizes that trust begins at home, saying, “Community policing is not a program and it’s not a project; it’s infused within the [SPD’s] culture.” In his role as head of the SPD, Jones makes it a priority to visit different divisions and sections in the department because “internal morale and procedural justice is so important.” He elaborates, “If we expect officers to be procedurally just out in the field in their community interactions, we better be displaying those very same core qualities within the department.” The SPD’s strategic plan, the Two Pillars of Policing, also plays a large part in encouraging officers to stay motivated. “We have a very focused vision and mission that gives [the officers] purpose.”
Chief Jones admits that, while police offers are a “critical part of the formula of reducing crime and increasing trust,” resources and technology are also prominent factors. For departments struggling with low funding, he recommends that law enforcement leaders leverage different resources that may be operating in silos. In the SPD’s case, the department works with the city’s Office of Violence Prevention to ensure that the department is taking full advantage of all resources possible and using them to their maximum potential. When Jones recognized that the software application My90 would help the SPD “gauge how the community really feels,” he worked with the Police Foundation to raise funds so the department could purchase it and begin using it immediately.
The SPD has prioritized trust building, procedural justice, and community policing principles without letting hardship get in the way. As a result, the Stockton community has changed for the better. Chief Jones praises his officers, like the two bicycle officers featured in the winning photo, for being the “epitome of community policing.” He states “[SPD officers] take time out of the day to maintain positive relations with the community. We’re really proud of these officers.”
The COPS Office congratulates the SPD for being one of the 12 winners of the COPS Office 2018 Community Policing in Action Photo Contest and for its commitment to community policing.
Written with contributions from Chief Eric Jones of the Stockton Police Department. Photo courtesy of the Stockton Police Department.
To learn more about related topics, see the following publications:
To sign up for monthly updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your email address in the Subscribe box.