Crime Prevention Program Research Paper

Pages: 7 (1913 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

Community Policing

Traditionally, law enforcement has taken a somewhat narrow approach to public safety. It seeks to detect crimes and arrest perpetrators, taking these elements themselves to constitute the "threats" to public safety. However, the removal of these elements, even in huge numbers, has not had a significant impact on crime problems and has not made crime-ridden communities any more livable.

The true effects of crime on public safety are not fully represented in criminal incidents alone. Endemic crime connected to gang activity and drug-use threaten public safety in more subtle ways. Endemic crime diminishes the quality of life in the community and saps the vital energy of the community.

The nature of endemic crime requires a new approach to maintaining public safety. (Triangle) The community must be viewed not only as the object of public safety, but as an agent of public safety. The collective strength of the community must be harnessed for its own protection.

Community policing envisions a new role for the community. Community policing is a philosophy that promotes the use of community partnerships and problem-oriented police ation to address public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime. The goal of community policing is to reduce crime and disorder by carefully examining the characteristics of problems in neighborhoods and then applying appropriate problem-solving remedies. (BJA, 1994, p. 13).

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Thesis: Although community policing has been shown, anecdotally, to improve police operations and community well-being, statistics do no demonstrate a significant reduction in crime rates. However, crime statistics are often misleading, and community policing should not be evaluated solely on the basis of crime statistics. When considering factors such as community quality of life and public confidence in law enforcement, community policing proves to be a valuable development in criminal justice.

Background

Community Policing

Research Paper on Crime Prevention Program Assignment

Community policing is based on optimizing positive contact between patrol officers and community members. (BJA, 1994, p.14). Such contact will establish trust between the police force and the community and keep the patrol officers "in the loop" about what is going on in the community. (BJA, 1994, p. 15). These cooperative bonds with the community will help the police "…maintain order, provide a sense of security, and control crime." (BJA, 1994, p. 15).

Community Partnerships

The core components of community policing are community partnerships and problem-solving. (BJA, 1994, p. 13). The term "community" here is defined as for which a patrol officer is given a small, well-defined geographical area. (BJA, 1994, p. 13). In this area, the police force should develop positive relationships with other government agencies, community members, nonprofits/service providers, private businesses, and media.

In community policing, the police become an integral part of the community culture, and the community assists in defining future priorities and in allocating resources. (BJA, 1994, p. 15). Patrol officers would talk to local business owners to help identify their problems and concerns, visit residents in their homes to offer advice on security, and help organize neighborhood watch groups and regular community meetings. (BJA, 1994, p. 17). The upper management of the police force would consult community members regarding methods to suppress gang activity. (BJA, 1994, p. 17) Such actions by the police force will promote a culture of active participation and cooperation.

Problem-Solving

The concept of problem-solving has special significance in the context of policing. It is based on a proactive, problem-oriented approach instead of a routine, pervasive approach. The reasoning is that "Underlying conditions create problems. These conditions might include the characteristics of the people involved (offenders, potential victims, and others), the social setting in which these people interact, the physical environments, and the way the public deals with these conditions. (BJA, 1994, p. 18). Community policing attempts to alter the conditions that give rise to crime instead of getting stuck on the crimes themselves. (BJA, 1994, p. 18).

Example 1: Seattle

The City of Seattle presents a well-documented, early example of community policing. In the years following World War II, the Rainier Valley neighborhood, 10 minutes south of Downtown Seattle, experienced massive White Flight to North Seattle. This migration, combined with the construction of two new housing projects in Rainier Valley, led to a massive influx of low-income minorities, creating new community dynamics and different crime challenges with them.

Although there was already a neighborhood block watch program in place to prevent residential burglaries, the emergence of the crack cocaine epidemic overwhelmed the capabilities of such a small operation. The city of Seattle's narcotics violations "…rose from 582 in 1983to 4,850 in 1989." (DeWitt, p. 2). The Rainier Valley neighborhood was particularly hard-hit. Street gangs ran rampant in housing projects and public areas. Crack cocaine dealers turned abandoned dwellings into fortified crack-houses. (DeWitt, p. 2). The neighborhood's residents were often too frightened to use public transportation.

To address the rise in crime, informal meetings were held between community members and the Seattle Police Department were held at the Rainier Chamber of Commerce in 1987. (DeWitt, p. 2). Residents expressed their concern over the rising commercial burglary rate, but the deeper concern was the economic and social future of the Southeast. (DeWitt, p. 2). Business-owners also expressed their concern over commercial burglaries, which the department explained was related to the prevalence of drug use.

Encouraged by the department's receptivity to their concerns, community leaders proposed a plan to tackle the crime problem to the mayor of Seattle. The plan included the addition of 15 sworn officers, a community review committee to set priorities for reducing crime as well as new reporting procedures to assure citizens the police were making progress. (DeWitt, p. 2). Although the city could was unable to assent to the addition of more officers due to budget constraints, it did assent to the other elements of the plan.

Later that year, the Rainier Chamber of Commerce created the South Seattle Crime Prevention Council. (DeWitt, p. 2). The council was a self-perpetuating assemblage of community organizations. (p. 4). The council started holding meetings attended by high-ranking police officers where they discussed specific crime problems and police tactics. The council even selected targets for the police, such as locations, offenses, or more general problems such as abandoned cars.

Police action usually consisted of aggressive patrol with special attention on these targets, amounting to at least two visits per shift, fully documented in a special log. Police also reviewed crack house reports from the community hotline. By the end of the first year, police were working on 39 targets and completed over half of them, mostly crack-houses. The volume of visible gang activity and drug-use diminished significantly and residents started to use public transportation again. (DeWitt, p. 9).

Example 2: Japan

Japan has employed a proto-community policing system, without recognizing it as such, since the end of World War II. The Japanese system, is based on 15,500 koban, or mini police stations, scattered all over Japan. There is a neighborhood police station of this sort within six or seven blocks of every urban resident in Japan. (Bayley, p. 7-8). Over 50 per cent of all people requiring police service come to the police in person rather than calling over the telephone. (Bayley, p. 7-8).

In Japan, the main characteristics of the kobans are: (i) to become part of the local community and engage in activities that are closely related to the daily life and the safety of residents, (ii) to let community residents know about the presence of police officers and carry out neighborhood watch and prevention activities such as patrols, (iii) to be the first to respond to any emergencies. (Bayley, p. 6).

The Koban system, though considered a success, is not complacent. It is still incorporating ideas from abroad, such as problem-oriented policing. Formerly, Japanese police were deployed pervasively, their emphasis was on maintaining order through discretionary law enforcement. (Bayley, p. 9). This includes impounding improperly equipped bicycles, catching speeding or drunk drivers, and generally keeping the streets orderly. Now, they are deploying officers according to problems that the public is concerned with. To aid in this, they have ordered their kobans to create formal community advisory boards in order to obtain feedback from the community. (Bayley, p.9).

Analysis

Effect of Community Policing On Policing Priorities

Although Community Policing has seen widespread adoption by law enforcement authorities across the U.S., not all of these programs have made as big an impact as the one in Seattle. More than 90% of American police agencies serving populations larger than 25,000 reported adopting COP activities and strategies. (Morabito, 2010, p. 565). However, this adoption was mere rhetoric for most of these agencies, as many agencies exhibited no changes in their mode of operation at all. (Morabito, 2010, p. 565). In a 2001, longitudinal study of community policing programs completed, Jihong Zhao found that the core functional priorities of American policing "…were not affected significantly by changes such as the addition of officers, the provision of funds for COP training or the adoption of COP programs between 1993 and 1996." (Zhao, et. al. 2001,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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