Research Paper: Community Policing Efficacy the Violent

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[. . .] 4-5). Standard policing (professional law enforcement), which entails responding to upsurges in criminal activity by increasing the number of patrol officers, decreasing response times, instituting random patrols, increasing pressure to solve crimes, and arresting more offenders, has been shown to be largely ineffective in deterring crime. The evidence though, has revealed that two criteria produce the greatest benefit to controlling crime: (1) increasing the diversity of approaches and (2) using crime analysis to focus on high crime areas.

Community policing incorporates a diversity of approaches, by spreading the responsibility for crime control among all interested parties. The community policing strategies that seem to have the greatest empirical support (weak to moderate) are: making connections with members of the community, police engaging citizens in a respectful manner, improving the legitimacy of police, and instituting foot patrols (reviewed by Clarke and Eck, 2005, p. 5). In contrast, problem-oriented policing (POP) utilizes both a diversity of strategies and focused policing. Accordingly, POP is supported by the strongest empirical evidence for controlling crime and in particular, strategies that address crime hot spots.

The effectiveness of community policing depends, of course, on how committed police agencies are to implementing the core elements. By the end of the 1990s, over 90% of police agencies serving communities larger than 25,000 people reported having adopted some form of community policing (Morabito, 2010, p. 566). The key word in the previous statement is 'reported', because academic researchers have since discovered that many of these claims were nothing more than rhetoric.

A study examining the factors affecting community-policing adoption for 474 municipalities in the U.S. found that community characteristics, such as ethnic diversity, economic disadvantage, and concentration of political power, were not significant predictors of community policing implementation (Morabito, 2010). The author of this study suggested that the use of federal dollars might have moderated any biases that could have otherwise arisen; however, a centralized form of government was found to be a strong predictor of community-policing adoption.

The strongest predictor of community policing adoption was robbery rates, such that more crime predicted use of community policing strategies (Morabito, 2010). Yet, when organizational structure was controlled for, as measured by pay disparity within police agencies and the number of sworn officers, it was found that community characteristics play only a minor role in determining community policing adoption. This conclusion is supported by the finding that organizational commitment to community policing is by far the biggest factor influencing adoption, and the bigger the police agency, the more likely they will commit to community policing.

Shifting the focus of a police department from professional to community policing is therefore influenced by the size of the agency. In addition, having in place police administrators willing to innovate and the resources to manage innovative changes play a critical role (reviewed by Morabito, 2010, p. 581). Regarding the latter point, smaller departments may not have the resources in terms of personnel and funding to compensate for the additional training required to implement community policing. Rural jurisdictions, where the 'community' is spread out over a large area, are not viable communities for community policing strategies (reviewed by Morabito, 2010, p. 565). This would explain why the city of Chicago was able to commit fully to community policing, because it had innovative administrators and sufficient resources to implement the necessary changes.

A more recent assessment of the success of community policing suggests that police agencies are starting to move away from community policing, in favor of what has been called the 'order maintenance' strategy, or 'broken windows' theory (Lombardo, Olson, and Staton, 2010, p. 587). Broken windows theory suggests that letting minor crimes go unchallenged will lead to the impression that no one cares and crime will increase in both prevalence and severity (CJCJ, 1999). Some administrators though, interpreted 'broken windows' as a policy of 'zero tolerance' towards any criminal activity or form of disorder. Former mayor Rudolf Giuliani has been heralded as a tough-on-crime politician because his 'zero tolerance' broken windows policy resulted in a dramatic decrease in crime in New York City during the late 1990s.

The Chicago Alternative Policy Strategy (CAPS) primarily emphasized community mobilization, in addition to addressing physical decay and social disorder (reviewed by Lombardo, Olson, and Staton, 2010). To implement community policing, duties were divided among community police officers tasked with mediating solutions to a broad range of neighborhood problems, and patrol units responding to 911 emergencies. Municipal services stood ready to address physical decay complaints and civilians were hired to augment police officers on the beat.

The success of the CAPS program can be measured in terms of community satisfaction with policing (Lombardo, Olson, and Staton, 2010, p. 596-597). For example, the perception of the prevalence of criminal activity will have a direct impact on a citizen's quality of life. In order to assess the success of the CAPS program, researchers measured several variables and how well these variables predicted community satisfaction with policing. Two concepts were measured: (1) how effective are the police in fighting crime and (2) how effective are the police in combating disorder. When prototype CAPS neighborhoods were compared to non-CAPS neighborhoods, community policing was found to have improved residents perceptions (61%) of crime prevalence, fear of crime, and their quality of life; however, the ability of the police to control disorder was not found to be better in CAPS neighborhoods. Importantly, the demographics and socioeconomic status of survey respondents did not seem to influence the results of this study, although ethnicity was not examined.

Despite these gains, Lombardo and colleagues (2010) interviewed Chicago police officers and many reported that community policing is being replaced by "intelligence-led" policing. Such reports are consistent with the findings of Morabito (2010) that the primary determining factor of the success of community policing programs is organizational commitment. In Chicago at least, community policing appears to have already overstayed its welcome, despite its effectiveness in reducing citizens' perceptions of crime prevalence.

The organizational resistance to community policing reforms is not unique to the United States. A recent review of studies examining community policing in the Netherlands found striking parallels (Terpstra, 2011). The general goals of community policing in the Netherlands are increasing the proximity of police and citizens, addressing a broad range of community problems, use of both preventive and reactive policing, and establishing partnerships with other agencies and citizens. As in Chicago, community policing has only been partially implemented. In addition, police support for community policing is waning as accountability and governance bureaucracies are instituted that counter the community policing paradigm of increased officer discretion and flexibility. In addition, community apathy towards the goals of community policing has led to the perception by community police officers that they are caught between a 'rock and a hard place'. On the one hand, police administrators are returning to a command and control, or centralized approach to policing, while on the other hand, citizens seem to be somewhat indifferent to community policing efforts and goals. Any gains in crime and disorder control that community policing promised are thus being lost over time.

Other factors also play a role in how successful community policing programs are. A recent study examined what factors influenced police cynicism regarding the cooperative attitude of neighborhood residents on their beat (Sobol, 2010). The least cynical officers were found to be those with more experience and those who were patrolling neighborhoods with relatively low crime rates. Cynicism levels were not related to whether officers were assigned to random, reactive patrols or to community policing. Officers working in Indianapolis, IN were also more cynical than those in St. Petersburg, FL, which may be a reflection of the different styles of police management between the two municipalities. Race, gender, and educational level were not correlated with officer cynicism. These results suggest that efforts to control crime in high crime neighborhoods will result in officer burnout more quickly, regardless of whether a community-policing program has been instituted.

An Issue of Ownership

As reviewed by Huey and Quirouette (2010), one of the central goals of community policing is shifting the responsibility for controlling crime and disorder away from a police agencies to parties with a stake in policing outcomes. The authors mentioned a study of the success of community policing in three Seattle neighborhoods, which found that neighborhoods were often unable to provide the political leadership required to accept responsibility for policing. This was found to be especially true for poor neighborhoods.

Huey and Quirouette (2010) further examined the question of leadership for shared policing responsibility by examining a program intended to help the homeless in Edinburgh, England and two cities in Canada. Although interviews with participants revealed a generally positive attitude toward the goal of community policing, on behalf of victimized homeless, a freedom of information request provided data that revealed the system was rarely used to report crime… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Community Policing Efficacy the Violent.  (2012, June 23).  Retrieved April 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/community-policing-efficacy-violent/3700888

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"Community Policing Efficacy the Violent."  23 June 2012.  Web.  19 April 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/community-policing-efficacy-violent/3700888>.

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"Community Policing Efficacy the Violent."  Essaytown.com.  June 23, 2012.  Accessed April 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/community-policing-efficacy-violent/3700888.