Techniques used by criminal elements are always evolving, and this calls for the police to respond in a similar manner by adopting different methods to combat the vice. Most of the work that police engage in is reactive and focuses on solving incidents after they occur. However, equal attention should be placed on solving systematic problems in a proactive manner. Community policing is one of the approaches that modern day police forces can use to combat crime. In a community policing situation, the police and members of the public work in cohesion. Civilian input is necessary for the fight against crime; police units should implement community policing through transforming their operational structures and forging partnerships with the public to solve the crime.
A report by Karn (2013) for the UK Police Foundation finds that traditional police techniques are not sufficient when it comes to combating crime. These conventional methods include stop-search, investigation, random patrols, and intensive policing. The researcher performs a literature review and notes that police departments that are moving towards crime risk identification and management stand a better chance of preventing criminal activities within their locale (Karn, 2013). Crime risk identification and management involve shifting resources towards targeting high crime areas (or those at risk of the crime infestation) and repeat offenders (or victims). This includes the combination of existing law enforcement techniques, social and situational measures. Such an approach ensures that members of the public become proactive participants in policing activities.
Police officers cannot control, solve and prevent crime without civilian support (Laru-an and Beup, 2015). Thus, the community policing program makes civilians stakeholders in the process of preventing and solving crime. As stakeholders, members of the public become more responsible for their well-being and that of their neighbors. Furthermore, findings by Laru-an and Beup (2015) show that community policing promotes a closer working relationship between law enforcement officers and the public.
A 2013 report by the Berkeley School of Law shows that community policing initiatives have to have three components. They include transforming the organization, forging partnerships with the public, and problem-solving. Transforming the Metropolitan Police Department would involve the reassignment of five police officers to form the community policing task force. Having a five-person task force will ensure that the contact between the police and civilians is improved. The increased contact will translate to a better understanding of the needs of the community.
The aim of the five-person force would be to convert the Metropolitan Police Departments community policing initiative into a focused, and centered department. Being focused refers to specializing in community-related affairs that help in crime detection. A centered department will operate within a particular region that is at risk of criminal activity. When police focus on particular challenges within a community such as repeat victims and repeat offenders, the rate of crime in that area reduces (Grove et al., 2012; Braga and Weisburd, 2012).
Forging partnerships with the public is the cornerstone of community policing. It goes beyond engaging people frequently. Moreover, the police have to take part in community-based activities that seek to tackle social problems. The term community policing means that the law enforcement units will have to work with diverse groups such as business associations, faith-based organizations, neighborhood groups, social service agencies, schools, and the local government. It is beneficial to engage with groups since they have proper pre-existing communication and leadership structures, human resource, and experience in community-related activities. Further, having a community-centered workforce means that the Metropolitan Police Department will increase the level of accessibility, which community members have, to police services. For instance, if the five-person team works with faith-based organizations, then citizens do not need to visit stations to have their grievances heard.
Lastly, problem-solving techniques in the proposed community policing model marks a shift from a problem-solving approach to a problem addressing policy. In such a framework, the emphasis is placed on preventing criminal activities before they happen. An ideal scenario would be one where the police work with members of a particular society to find the cause of the crime and developing measures that will prevent crime. A study by Chainey (2012) shows that finding the cause of problems using community-oriented initiatives significantly reduces criminal activity. Additionally, the task force members should have some degree of independence in decision making since different locales cannot apply the same measures to solve problems.
Some of the likely challenges that this program may face include a shortage of resources. A task force made of five officers is not enough to address the needs of an entire community. As such, the operations of the department will be limited. Also, the community initiative requires a change in culture, procedures, and training of the selected officers since the respective officers will be needed to develop tailor-made solutions.
Crime continues to be a menace in many societies. This poses a challenge for police who have to continuously update their operational procedures to match with the ever evolving criminal practices. Community policing provides police with an opportunity to expand their reach through partnering with members of the public, who are the main victims of criminal elements. Police can implement community policing by transforming their organizational structures, forging partnerships with the public, and problem-solving. Community engagement allows police to adopt proactive measures in solving crime. All police departments should allocate resources towards forging better relations with the public to ease the burden of crime management.
Berkeley School of Law,. (2013). What works in community policing? a best practices context for measure y efforts (pp. 3-10). California: Berkeley School of Law. Retrieved from https://www.law.berkeley.edu/files/What_Works_in_Community_Policing.pdf
Braga, A, Papachristos, A. and Hureau, D. (2012) Hotspots policing effects on crime. Campbell Systematic Reviews
Chainey, S. (2012) Predictive Mapping (Predictive Policing). London: UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science.
Grove, L., Farrell, G., Farrington, D.F., and Johnson S.D. (2012) Preventing repeat victimisation: A systematic review. Stockholm: The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention.
Karn, D. (2013). Policing and crime reduction: the evidence and its implications for practice. London: The Police Foundation
Laru-an, N. and Beup, H. (2015). Level of effectiveness of community policing. International Journal Of Scientific And Research Publications, 5(2), 1-4.
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