Community policing use of partnerships and problem solving

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Community policing is a philosophy that focuses on general neighborhood problems along with organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues, such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.

This study examines the implementation and experimentation of Community-Oriented Policing as a way of curbing and preventing crime in various communities. Community policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, along with the systematic use of partnerships and problem solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues, such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.

Community-Oriented policing is often misunderstood as a programs such as D.A.R.E.®, foot patrols, bike patrols, or police substations. Although each may be a part of a broader strategic community-oriented policing plan, these programs are not community-oriented policing. Rather, community-oriented policing is a philosophy that focuses on general neighborhood problems as a source of crime; and, community-oriented policing is preventive, proactive, and information based.

"that promotes organizational strategies"

Community-oriented policing emphasizes changes in organizational structures to institutionalize its adoption. Agencies need to be aligned to support partnerships and proactive problem solving in areas such as training, hiring, reward and authority structures, technology, and deployment.

"which support the systematic use of partnerships"

Community-oriented policing recognizes that police can rarely solve public safety problems alone and encourages interactive partnerships with the community and other relevant agencies. The range of potential partners includes other government agencies, businesses, nonprofits, individual community members, and the media. These partnerships should be used to accomplish the two interrelated goals of developing solutions through collaborative problem solving and improving public trust.

"and problem solving techniques,"

Community-Oriented policing emphasizes proactive problem solving in a systematic and routine fashion. Problem solving should be included into all police operations and guide decision-making efforts. Agencies are encouraged to think innovatively about their responses and view making arrests as only one of a wide array of potential responses.

"to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues,"

Rather than responding to crime only after it occurs, community policing encourages agencies to work proactively to develop solutions to the immediate underlying conditions contributing to public safety problems. Rather than addressing root causes, police and their partners should focus on factors that are within their reach, such as limiting criminal opportunities and access to victims, increasing guardianship, and associating risk with unwanted behavior.

"such as crime, social disorder and fear of crime."

Community-Oriented policing recognizes that social disorder and fear of crime are also important issues to be addressed by the police. Both significantly affect quality of life and have been shown to be important contributors to crime. It is also important for the police and the communities they serve to develop a shared understanding of their primary mission and goals. The public should be involved in shaping the role of the police and the prioritization of public safety problems.

Who We Are

The Community-Oriented Policing (COPS) Office was created through the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. As a component of the Justice Department, the mission of the COPS Office is to advance the practice of community policing as an effective strategy to improve public safety. Moving from a reactive to proactive role, community policing represents a shift from more traditional law enforcement practices. By addressing the root causes of criminal and disorderly behavior, rather than simply responding to crimes once they have been committed, community policing concentrates on preventing both crime and the atmosphere of fear it creates. Additionally, community policing encourages the use of crime-fighting technology and operational strategies and the development of mutually beneficial relationships between law enforcement and the community. By earning the trust of the members of their communities and making those individuals stakeholders in their own safety, law enforcement can better understand and address the community's needs, and the factors that contribute to crime.

What We Do

The COPS Office awards grants to tribal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to hire and train community policing professionals, acquire and deploy cutting-edge crime-fighting technologies, and develop and test innovative policing strategies. COPS Office funding provides training and technical assistance to advance community policing at all levels of law enforcement, from line officers to law enforcement executives, as well as others in the criminal justice field. Because community policing is inclusive, COPS Office training also reaches state and local government leaders and the citizens they serve.

Since 1995, the COPS Office has invested $12.4 billion to help law enforcement advance the practice of community policing, and has enabled more than 13,000 state, local, and tribal agencies to hire more than 117,000 police officers and deputies. Our online Resource Information Center (RIC) offers publications, DVDs, CDs, and training materials on a wide range of law enforcement concerns and community policing topics. To date, we have distributed more than 1.1 million of these knowledge resources.

Through this broad range of programs, the COPS Office offers support in virtually every aspect of law enforcement, making America safer, one neighborhood at a time.

Washington, D.C., A Torn City Begins to Mend

In Washington, DC, during the 1970s and 1980s crack cocaine became an epidemic. It captured the communities and it seemed to happen overnight. The advent of the crack market and the unprecedented street violence it unleashed nationwide sent homicide rates soaring in the latter half of the 1980s. Not only did the number of killings surge in the District, the homicide rates here also far exceeded the rates in crack-ridden cities where handguns had not been banned.

In the peak year, 1991, the District reported 482 homicides.

Almost as sharply as violence in the District increased, it declined through the 1990s, a drop researchers attributed to the burning out and aging of a generation of crack dealers and users. Again, the shift reflected national trends.

Yet the gun culture on the city's mean streets during the crack epidemic has not abated, police statistics show. Even as the homicide toll declined in D.C. after 1991, the percentage of killings committed with firearms remained far higher than it was when the ban was passed.

Guns were used in 63 percent of the city's 188 slayings in 1976. Last year, out of 169 homicides, 81 percent were shootings.

Meanwhile, periodic ATF reports have documented that firearms, flowing in from elsewhere in the country, remain available on D.C. streets - exactly what the ban was designed to prevent.

Unanimously approved by the DC Council, on 21 April 1998, Charles H. Ramsey was sworn-in as Chief of Police. A career policeman from Chicago, with 28 years of service and a reputation of being worthy of the highest degree of loyalty by Chicago's Finest, Ramsey vowed to bring to Washington a police department "rooted in and guided by ... honesty, integrity, respect for one another and for the community, fairness, dedication, commitment and accountability for individual actions and organizational results." Ramsey had early remarked that he believed that the major fault with the MPD was less one of the qualifications of the officers, or even the facilities or equipment than with the way that services are delivered. Despite last-years' remarks by then-Chief Larry Soulsby (since resigned in the wake of disclosures that his roommate, then-Lt. Jeffrey Stowe, had misappropriated MPD funds and had been engaging in extortion) which had given the impression that many more District officers would be deployed from offices and onto the streets, this has in reality never happened. Recently, it was discovered that something like half of the District's officers had not passed their weapons qualifications.

Ramsey is particularly known for his formative expertise in the concept of "community policing" which practice has already resulted in a much higher perception of public safety in the Public Housing projects, where it has been implemented by that agency's in-house police force.

Some time ago, in an effort to get more community involvement from the police, then-chief Larry Soulsby distributed the homicide division to the various districts. Later, then-Acting-Chief Sonya T. Proctor re-consolidated the deployed officers and detectives to a central location. Now, a re-division has been established, along practical investigative divisions rather than district geographic divisions. These functional divisions are now concentrating on the types of murder - for example, there is a division specializing in murders which are probable serial-killings, gang-related killings, deaths by arson, etcetera. Reportedly the entire force will work on any killing to whatever degree required, however specialty groups with additional training are available for consultation as needed. Terrifyingly (but better late than never) one task group is looking closely at the deaths of over 100 women in the past several years, at last admitting that there may not only be a serial killer in Washington, but possibly several. As more money, provided under emergency authorizations and the District Revitalization Act, has begun to actually reach the police districts, more specialized training is being provided to officers, as useful equipment, in particular useful information and telecommunications systems.

However, both national and local police-work authorities say that one of the systems which has long been available to local investigators, the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS), is grossly underused. There is at present a backlog of some 2500 rounds and expended casings which have yet to be tested and catalogued or cross-matched. Combined with the ongoing (we presume; there have been no public reports of an improved situation) decrepitude and uselessness of the evidence storage facilities, this leads to a very bleak outlook in the DC criminal-justice system. No matter the improvements in the closure rate (in the District, "closure" is determined either administratively by noting that the offender is in jail on another offense, or worse, closure may be alleged with a simple arrest of the subject) - justice is not served if an arrested perpetrator can walk simply because evidence linkages cannot be made due to failure to pursue court-proofed procedure.

Chief Ramsey also began implementing assorted other programs, some quietly, some with great visibility if not actual fanfare. One program which was touted as an all-around success in Ramsey's native Chicago was the so-called "Roll Calls Without Walls". Ramsey is a very strong proponent, in fact a driving creative force, of the Community Policing approach. Henceforth, it will be not-uncommon to see various police units assemble in public to conduct start-of-shift business. It may be added that considering the conditions of some police buildings, you might as well have the officers assemble out of doors, the conditions are almost certainly more pleasant and probably more safe as well. Chief Ramsey promised to agitate for better working conditions, at least he wants the buildings rehabilitated. Also, members of various units have been going house to house, knocking on doors and introducing themselves. There has long been a sense of distance between the MPD and the community; one of Ramsey's antidotes to distance, an attempt to develop rapport between the officers and the neighborhoods they are expected to serve.

This proved to be a success in Washington, D.C. and in other large metropolitan cities. Crime rates dropped dramatically and relations improved between the community and MPD. However, now with the rising costs associated with inflation and the soaring unemployment rate, crime begins to climb again. However, MPD is now able to combat crime and intervene because of Captain Ramsey and his introduction of Washington, D.C. to community-oriented policing.

Columbia, S.C., A Torn City Begins to Mend

To my dismay, I have not been able to find a police station that can identify with community policing. I have been told that community policing exists in theory but not in action.

Unfortunately, the police departments in some areas of South Carolina are more interested in just catching the criminal and not being proactive as to how to curve these behaviors. Therefore, the mending process for Columbia, S.C. will take longer.

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