communtiy policing




Community policing has emerged since the 1970s as an increasingly important strategy for controlling and preventing crime and enhancing community safety. It is both a philosophy and an organizational strategy that allows the police and the community to work closely together in creative ways to solve the problems of crime, drugs, fear of crime, physical and social disorder, neighborhood decay, and the overall quality of life in the community. Community policing is difficult to define. Although it does not have a single definition, there are many various elements of community policing. Champion states there are several definitions to define community policing.
1. “[Community policing is] whenever citizens and police…band…together to fight crime.”
2. “Community policing is a police-community partnership in which the police and the community work hand-in-hand to resolve what the community identifies as ‘problems.’ They [problems] may concern abandoned houses, overgrown lots, zoning ordinances, school issues and other urban problems that are more appropriately in the realm of other agencies.”
3. “Community policing emphasizes the establishment of working partnerships between police and communities to reduce crime and enhance security.”
4. “Community policing [is] a working partnership between police and the law-abiding public to prevent crime, arrest offenders, find solutions to problems and enhance the quality of life.”
5. “[Community policing is] a philosophy rather than a specific tactic…a proactive, decentralized approach designed to reduce crime, disorder and fear of crime by intensely involving the same officer in a community for a long term so that personal links are formed with residents” (Champion 2).

These definitions address the key features of community policing. The common features involve cooperation between police and community residents, willingness to work toward mutual goals, and a general desire to improve community safety through more effective crime control.
Community policing in America can be traced from the colonial times to the 1900s. American policing activities transpired in early England at or about the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066. Chancellors were used to settle disputes between neighbors, such as property boundary issues, trespass allegations, and child misconduct. “An early equivalent of the chancellor, with similar duties and responsibilities, was the justice of the peace, dating to about A.D. 1200. Together with the chancellors or justices of the peace, reeves (now more commonly know as a sheriff) maintained order in their respective jurisdictions (Champion 22). England’s use of policing became well known. Many other regions soon adopted England’s standards. American colonist continued the English system of law enforcement and the study of law. In addition to reeves, constables were used for maintaining law and order in colonial communities. The duties of constables included collecting fees for highway usage, collecting taxes, and presiding over minor legal issues. The position of the sheriff was created and they became the principal law enforcement officers in the various counties throughout the colonies. Early policing was characterized as urban policemen walking beats and interacting daily with merchants and other members of the community.
In the 1940s, the policing model most common in America has come to be know as the “political” model. Many governmental leadership positions, including police chiefs, were occupied by people directly beholden to a city’s political machine for their position and livelihood. This was a period filled with corruption and transformation. “In the 1950’s, many communities became dissatisfied with this model and called for a new model free of corruption” (Zhao 1). In the 1960s and through the 1970s, a model evolved known today as the “professional” model. It was during this period that a law enforcement code of conduct and uniform training standards became the foundations of American law enforcement with the professional and efficient delivery of police service its ultimate goal. The present model requires that officers not associate too closely with the people they serve, an obvious reaction to the corruption evident in the earlier models.
Modern devices have added the professional model of today. “At about the same time, much-needed equipment and technology (cars, radios, telephones, and mobile-digital terminals) began to arrive on the law enforcement scene”(Zhao, 2). These tools further distanced patrol officers from their community contacts. Gradually, the patrol officers’ proactive “problem-solving” approach was replaced with reactive “call handling.” The community called for help, and the police department responded. However, when the calls for