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Mayors, Police Chiefs Turn Spotlight On Success Of Community Policing

Mayors, police chiefs and other top municipal and law enforcement officials from 35 cities will assemble in Las Vegas July 22 for a roundtable review of the contribution that community policing has made to the reduction of crime and violence across the nation over the past several years, and an open discussion of some of the community policing initiatives that have been most effective.

Community policing is an approach in which police, community residents and other stakeholders work together to define community needs and implement crime prevention strategies. This approach has been gaining popularity in law enforcement circles for many years, and the passage of comprehensive anti-crime legislation and the creation of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) in 1994 resulted in the adoption of the concept by over 12,000 police departments and agencies of all sizes and the hiring and training of thousands of new community officers and law enforcement support personnel. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has been monitoring the expansion of community policing and documenting its successes; the Las Vegas conference gives mayors and police chiefs an opportunity to compare their experiences, exchange information, and discuss the future of community policing in cities as well as the future of the federal COPS program.

The 75 local officials traveling to Las Vegas represent cities ranging in size from over 1.5 million - Philadelphia - to 10,000 - Los Lunas, New Mexico. The Mayor of New Orleans, Marc H. Morial, will preside during the event; Mayor Morial was elected President of The U.S. Conference of Mayors at the organization's annual meeting last month in Detroit. He will be joined by New Orleans Police Chief Richard Pennington in an opening presentation on their City's experience with community policing. Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin and Police Chief Jerry Hoover will appear with them to describe the impact that community policing has had on crime in their City, as will Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb and Police Chief Jerry Whitman.

"Community policing has had a dramatic, positive effect on America's communities," according to Mayor Morial. "It has forged a partnership between the police and residents that is helping to reduce crime and build stronger neighborhoods. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, through the Mayors' Institute for Community Policing, supported by The U.S. Department of Justice COPS Office, continues to advocate the principles of community policing and believes that it has a strong role to play in fostering and institutionalizing the growing community policing movement in cities across the nation."

A working session on "Lessons Learned from Community Policing" will include presentations by Saint Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage, and Richmond (VA) Police Chief Jerry Oliver, and open discussion among all attendees. A luncheon session will be addressed by Jack Calhoun, Executive Director of the National Crime Prevention Council.

In the afternoon, a working session on "Sustaining and Building Upon Community Policing Successes" will include presentations by Richmond (CA) Mayor Rosemary Corbin, Madison (WI) Police Chief Richard Williams, and Charleston (SC) Police Chief Reuben Greenberg, and open discussion. Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney is scheduled to discuss his City's community policing experiences at the close of the afternoon session.

The Conference of Mayors publications to be released in Las Vegas include 1) results of a national survey on the overall impact of community policing in cities; 2) "best practices" involving neighborhood-level initiatives; 3) case studies of successful programs in Lincoln (NE), Anaheim, and Miami-Dade County; and 4) "best practices" involving collaboration of police and other city agencies.

An opening reception for the mayors and police chiefs participating in the Las Vegas conference will be held Saturday evening at the Four Seasons Hotel, the site of the event. The conference will be opened Sunday morning by Clark County Sheriff Jerry Keller.

The Las Vegas conference and the reports released are supported by funding from The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).

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