What is community policing?

Community policing is a practice that’s only recently become a part of law enforcement and public safety methods.  It’s essentially a partnership between law enforcement departments and members of the community in an effort to reduce crimes.  These crimes can include burglary, rape, assault, vandalism and other offenses that threaten neighborhoods and increase public fear and discontent.

In community policing, law enforcement officers, residents, and other community agencies and organizations collaborate to identify common crime issues and problems.  These can be home invasions, robberies, muggings, purse snatchings, illegal drug traffic, prostitution, graffiti and vandalism. The next step is to evaluate the causes and effects of these occurrences to determine their frequency and level of importance. 

The next step in developing a coherent plan for community policing is to develop effective solutions and responses to the problems.  These responses include community monitoring of neighborhoods in ways that help the law enforcement respond more quickly to criminal activities. They also include ways to make it more difficult for criminal activities to take place, such as increased lighting and closing certain areas such as parks during high risk hours.

Community policing requires a well developed plan with stated goals for crime reduction and increased public safety.  In addition to law enforcement officials and neighborhood members, other agencies involved in the effort might include schools, youth services, postal workers and other public service employees such as electric and gas meter readers who can effectively monitor and report suspicious activities in neighborhoods in which they work.

Another aspect of community policing involves period review of efforts to determine if the plan is working.  If not, new strategies need to be instituted to increase the likelihood of success. If certain criminal activities have been curtailed, other activities can be focused on more heavily.

Community policing is a great way for the public to take control of their neighborhoods by working with law enforcement departments and other organizations to make their communities safer and happier places in which to live and work.



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