Community policing is important to law enforcement agencies because there should be a focus on creating and maintaining a friendly relationship with the community. Having a relationship with the community will help to get more information on crimes and overall fewer problems. Community policing was an idea that was implemented more by the Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) which was created in the mid-1990s (Kimberly & Vaughn, 2018).
Community policing has adapted over the years and can change with its environment. This type of policing is needed now more than ever due to the hostility and lack of trust the public perceives. Community policing is not perfect and there needs to be a professional relationship with the public in order for it to succeed. When a police agency is constantly being involved in uses of force, then the bigger picture needs to be examined. There is a reason why the public chooses to fight with the police instead of helping them.
For every problem there is a solution and the law enforcement situation in the country is no exception. Proper training and more community involvement can turn an agency around and better their image. People should trust their police agency and they should know they are protected but that is not the case in some areas. There are many programs that can be implemented to help law enforcement protect the citizens by respecting them. “Community policing, based on its success in creating positive shifts in police-citizen culture, should instead be regarded as a catalyst for social change and order” (Kimberly & Vaughn, 2018, p. 35).
Law enforcement agencies have been around for a long time and so have community policing strategies. “Sir Robert Peel – the father of London’s police force, and the later two-time Prime Minister of England – is credited with the creation of the first modern police force in London in 1829” (Adegbile, 2017, p. 2230). Law enforcement officers in the past may have enforced their town laws like an old western movie but the public can be key into helping solve crimes. Officers have constantly had to follow rules and procedures and this is a procedure that should be implemented regularly.
If every officer was more involved in their community then there would be an understanding and less fights against officers. “Peel sought to make a formal police force acceptable to the public by setting out nine principles that every new officer was to follow” (Adegbile, 2017, p. 2230). Rules and procedures are what make law enforcement agencies similar to that of the military. Officers are constantly dealing with serious life-and-death situations and having policies help to protect the officer as well as the public.
Every agency is different because they deal with different types of crimes and people based on the location of the agency. Almost all law enforcement agencies from across the county have used some type of community policing strategies, such as “community partnerships, organizational transformation and problem-solving” (Kimberly & Vaughn, 2018, p.35). Agencies have partnered with various non-profits in their community to help their community and to show their face to the community members. Programs have been created in various agencies that allow citizens to see law enforcement first-hand by becoming a citizen patrol member or explorer.
Community policing will help to protect the officers and the public. It will allow a respect between them that will better the community as a whole. “Another future issue is the changing demographic trends in the United States (Maguire & Okada, 2015, p. 136). Due to racial tension and officer involved shootings in the nation, it has created a hostile environment.
The public seems afraid of law enforcement officers and law enforcement officers are afraid too. Some of the public seems to be looking for a fight and anytime an officer is engaged with a member of the public some will try to challenge the officer. The officer must remain calm and attempt to continue their job while being professional. This can be difficult when people are videotaping on their cell phones and going out of their way to aggravate the officer. This is a huge hurdle and concern that needs to be overcome in order for community policing to be effective.
“Policing is dangerous, and no amount of reform will completely eliminate the risks that police officers face or change the fact that traffic police-encounter deaths will occur” (Adegbile, 2017, p. 2258). Officers need to be concerned with their safety along with the public’s safety. Safety of everyone is a huge concern because if an officer tries to approach the wrong person it can be dangerous. Proper safety measures should be taken to protect everyone involved.
Law enforcement will face many issues in the path to community involvement. There are always issues that will arise in the criminal justice field because that is the nature of the job. Every law enforcement agency has to use the same tools to achieve the same results and some may differ slightly but the mission will be the same. Some agencies will be hesitant to reform because they believe there is nothing wrong with their current style of policing.
This can be an issue because it can cause problems for other agencies. All it takes is one negative officer interaction on the news or social media and everyone will lump all police officers together based on that one person’s interaction.
It could be just one person that is using the incorrect method and that can ruin it for the entire department. If an officer violates someone’s right then there can be legal grounds against that officer and that can then make the department liable. The federal government also can get involved with an agency if they believe there is wrong doing. Uses of forces are the biggest issues because that is what is seen all over the news and social media.
Community policing involves a multitude of people coming together and this includes people from other agencies, such as the federal government. The federal government has tools that can be utilized by local law enforcement agencies to help expand their knowledge. “The DOJ’s COPS works with law enforcement to build trust with local communities and implement policing best practices through technical assistance and a collaborative review process” (Adegbile, 2017, p. 2253).
Having programs available for the public to get involved and understand law enforcement will help open the lines of communication. Also, going out in the community and working with organizations that help the community will also put the officers out in the public eye. Working with the public and communicating both ways can help to create a positive working environment.
The public wants to be involved and feel involved and this can require releasing crime statistics and having community meetings. If the public feels involved then they are more likely to stay involved by helping law enforcement officers. Law enforcement agencies need to fully submerge their officers into the community. They should be getting to know the community members as they drive around patrolling and responding to calls for service.
Having a community come together as one unit only makes the community better. Neighbors look out for each other and help each other out and this makes them feel safe. Law enforcement can have the same impact if they create a positive relationship with a community. The public deserves to feel safe and comfortable in their community. “If the historical relationship between economics and crime hold true, we should expect more crime in the coming years, especially if unemployment continues to rise” (Maguire & Okada, 2015, p. 136).
Law enforcement agencies have to plan for the future in some instances and they have to take steps to help the community when they can, which includes helping those without jobs. It does not take much time out of their day to give a helping hand or some advice. Officers should be taught techniques on how to speak appropriately to people from any background and to be compassionate because not every officer has those traits.
Some officers may come off harsh without even realizing it. “Given the current state of policing, and questions pertaining to police legitimacy, police should be encouraged to build stronger relationships with the publics, and law enforcement agencies are encouraged to also take community factors into account when implementing COP (Kimberly & Vaughn, 2018, p. 35).