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The purpose of this paper is to identify and define the C.O.P.S. program, otherwise known as Community Oriented Policing Services. Enhancing the relationship between communities and law enforcement requires leaders that use vision, empowerment, communication and commitment. "The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) of the U.S. Department of Justice defines community policing as 'a policing philosophy that promotes and supports organizational strategies to address the causes and reduce the fear of crime and social disorder through problem-solving tactics and police partnerships.' Police departments all across the United States subscribe to community policing in one form or another as police agencies have realized that the more involved the community is in policing the more effective the efforts to make the communities safer. There is a growing understanding that better relations between the police and community benefits both in creating safer communities." (PARC) This paper will discuss the basic principles of COPS and the techniques that are being used by law enforcement agencies. COPS is my topic of choice because I believe in the importance of communication and teamwork between law enforcement and the community. Communication and teamwork makes citizens feel safer because they know what's going on rather than being left in the dark. This also makes people realize that, despite what they may see on television, peace officers are, in-fact, here to help; to protect and serve. Everyone needs to work together to make this world a better place for our children to grow up in.
The COPS program was developed in the 1980's when several law enforcement agencies implemented programs in their communities and techniques that changed the methods of policing. COPS was created and intended to build strong relationships between law enforcement and the people they swore to protect and serve, and to solve problems. Police values shifted in a positive way as a result of COPS.
The brutal beating of Rodney King, by LAPD officers, occurred on March 3, 1991. The caused the public to question the values of law enforcement. The public outcry of the community brought upon the Los Angeles City Council to appoint an independent commission, known as the Christopher Commission, to evaluate the structure of the Los Angeles Police Department. The independent commission on the LAPD was created with Warren Christopher, formerly Under Secretary of State serving as Chair.
The Christopher Commission also evaluated a few other issues, such as: officers' use of force, attitudes of the officers', department culture, and the leadership taking place in addressing these issues. The Christopher Commission made recommendations that the LAPD should implement community based policing throughout the entire city in the report submitted in July of 1991.
The Rodney King beating accelerated the acceptance of COPS in law enforcement. ON April 29, 1992, a California Superior Court jury acquitted the four officers' involved in the beating. This caused riots amongst the community. The time for change had become urgent.
These events have made the need for restructuring of police in America very important. Community oriented policing is seen as a model for ensuring that police become partners with the community they serve.
According to the COPS website, there are three key components in community policing. The first component is community partnerships. Community partnerships include, but are not limited to, other government agencies, community members, community groups, nonprofit businesses, service providers, private businesses and the media. Creating and maintaining strong bonds and partnerships with individual citizens, groups and businesses will help to create problem solving solutions and increase the level of trust in law enforcement. For example, law enforcement officers can drive by or visit local businesses. By having a presence on a regular basis, criminals are less likely to rob/burglarize those businesses or areas.
The second key component is organizational transformation. To build community partnerships, support and create proactive problem solving, structure, personnel, technology, and organizational management need to be put into place. Organizational transformation also includes structure such as geographic assignment of peace officers throughout the city, despecialization, and resources and finances. Organization of personnel includes recruitment, hiring, selection, supervision, training, and evaluations of personnel. Technologies, information systems, include communication, access to data, and quality and accuracy of data. Ensuring that all of these areas are organized in a way that makes law enforcement more effective and efficient plays a big role in making the COPS program work. Last, but certainly, not least, agency management has many contributing factors including, but not limited to, climate and culture, leadership, labor relations, decision-making, policies, organizational evaluations, transparency and organized structure. Though all of these areas are important factors, I feel that leadership is the most important of all. Leadership style has nothing to do with the size of the agency, but is dependent on the culture of the organization. Leadership means being prepared to accept the situation at hand and insure the effective implementation of COPS. A leader needs to be involved, helping to implement the program first hand, not just sit behind a desk and tell others what to do. A person must earn the respect of his or her subordinates by living the words of General George S. Patton: "Always do everything you ask of those you command." In doing so, the words of encouragement and direction have significant meaning and reinforce organizational goals. When the community sees what a great team law enforcement is, it will inspire them to want to be a part of it to help the community.
The third key component of community policing is problem solving. In order to solve the problems, we must first scan the problems. We have to identify what the problems are and prioritize them. We have to conquer the biggest problems first. The crime triangle (victim/offender/location) will help to prioritize and focus on immediate conditions. Next, we need to analyze the problems be researching to find out as much as we can about them. Problems can't be fixed until we know what we are dealing with. Then we need to create solutions to the problem to insure a long lasting reduction. Finally, an assessment of the success of the responses will be done to see what it is that didn't work, what needs to change and what we need to keep doing.
According to the COPS website, the most relevant discussions in community policing today includes the following: bias-based policing, crime and the economy, financial crimes against the elderly, gangs, homeland security, identity theft, police integrity, school safety, solving crime problems, stalking, and technology. The following are examples from the COPS website that show how COPS is scanning, analyzing, responding, and assessing the situations at hand.
Bias-Based Policing - "Issues surrounding race in America, and, specifically, racial profiling have been highly visible and volatile. A key to improving the perceptions about bias- based policing is for law enforcement agencies to develop mutual trust between and respect for the communities they serve. Developing effective systems and tools to prevent and respond to bias-based policing can help law enforcement maintain that mutual trust and respect. Since 1996, the COPS Office has invested approximately $70 million to promote and advance ethics and integrity through our COPS Police Integrity Initiative." (COPS)
Crime & the economy -
(Fraud and local law enforcement) "On October 29, 2008, the COPS Office hosted a conference call with members of the local and federal law enforcement community to discuss investigations and prevention of mortgage fraud and foreclosure rescue scams. Participants agreed that more local law enforcement resources will be needed to address these crimes in the near future, as they are rapidly becoming more common. From this call, a number of representatives from police agencies across the country offered examples of preventative measures that law enforcement agencies can use to counteract the damage these schemes inflict on our communities." (COPS)
(Metal, materials, and appliance theft) "Metal theft, especially copper theft, has risen significantly in the past few years due to record metal prices and an increase in vacant homes due to foreclosure. To address this issue, the COPS Office hosted a conference call with members of the local and federal law enforcement community, as well as representatives from academia and private industry, to discuss recent trends in metal and related property theft. During this call, participants offered a number of examples of successful partnerships between law enforcement officials and local scrap metal recyclers that significantly reduced metal theft in their areas." (COPS)
(Policing and managing vacant and abandoned properties) "Municipalities with high foreclosure rates are finding themselves responsible for maintaining a growing number of vacant and abandoned homes. Law enforcement and other city agencies are finding it necessary to work together to address the code enforcement, eviction, and crime issues surrounding these properties. On November 3, 2008, a number of city representatives and law enforcement agencies joined a COPS Office conference call to discuss managing vacant properties. Many participants recommended foreclosure prevention and early identification of homes in danger of foreclosure to alleviate the burden placed on cities and police agencies. Below are a list of resources and counter-measures to address this problem." (COPS)
Financial Crimes Against the Elderly - "The elderly are the fastest growing segment of our society and they are also an important part of our country's economy. We are living longer but we as a society do not always recognize this population as being at risk. America's growing senior population is uniquely vulnerable to a broad range of exploitation and abuse. Financial crimes in particular are targeted at seniors with alarming frequency, and are all too often successful. The few existing studies of consumer fraud estimate that between 20 to 60 percent of adult Americans report being a victim or attempted victim of fraud. In 1998, the National Center on Elder Abuse estimated that nearly one third of all elder abuse cases involved financial exploitation. In 2000, the US Senate Special Committee on Aging reported $40 billion in losses to telemarketing fraud. Over the past year, The COPS Office has invested nearly $2 million nationwide to address this major crime problem. The COPS Office is expanding its support of the National Sheriffs Association for the national Triad program. The Triad program partners law enforcement and senior citizens together to reduce crime and the fear of crime. COPS funding will be used to expand and enhance the Triad model nationwide by increasing the number of communities that participate in Triad and by increasing the number of training opportunities and scope of national support programs." (COPS)
Gangs - "The danger of modern gangs is rooted in local, community-level activity. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates that at least 30,000 gangs, with 800,000 members, are having an impact on 2,500 communities across the United States. Increasing law enforcement pressure and the desire to expand their lucrative illegal activities are leading gangs to spread from urban areas into suburban and rural areas. Partnerships with law enforcement, schools, parents, community and faith-based groups, and youth are an important element in addressing and reducing gang crime in the United States. To assist law enforcement and parents in identifying and addressing gang crime, the COPS Office, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program (OJJDP) and FBI have developed A Parent's Quick Reference Card: Recognizing and Preventing Gang Involvement. This quick and easy reference guide provides common warning signs of gang involvement. Parents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with local gang symbols, seek help early, and consider contacting school officials, local law enforcement, faith leaders, and community organizations for additional assistance. In addition, the COPS Office has identified many resources to assist law enforcement and communities to address the issue of gangs. These resources are included in Guides and Reports, Training and Technical Assistance, and Other Resources." (Kouri)
Homeland Security - "The tragic events of September 11, 2001 added a new dimension to American policing. While it is true that the federal government is increasing its efforts in the area of terrorism prevention and response, a large degree of responsibility for responding to threats of terrorism rests at the local level. Experience now tells us that the first responders to any future incidents will most assuredly be local police, fire, and rescue personnel. As a result, law enforcement officials must now strategically rethink public security procedures and practices in order to maximize the full potential of their resources. There are a number of considerations that must be taken into account when addressing homeland security. These include human intelligence gathering activities, intelligence and data analysis, and partnerships between law enforcement agencies, other public safety and service agencies, and the public at large. Whether through funding police officers and technology, or providing training and publications, the COPS Office is committed to providing the law enforcement community with the resources required to enhance community security and contribute to the overall goal of national domestic preparedness." (COPS)
Identity Theft - "The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that identity theft struck nearly 10 million Americans in 2003, with an estimated total annual cost of $5 billion to consumers and $48 billion to businesses, along with costs ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 for law enforcement to investigate each case. Add to that the time and money that the victims must spend to straighten out their lives. According to the FTC's Consumer Sentinel database, which receives and maintains statistics about identity theft and fraud, the most common form of identity theft is credit card fraud, followed by telephone or utility fraud, bank fraud, employment-related fraud, government document or benefit fraud, and loan fraud. In 1998 Congress made identity theft a federal crime through passage of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. The act directed the FTC to establish procedures and a central repository for logging complaints by victims of identity theft, provide victims with informational materials, and refer complaints to appropriate entities, including the major national consumer reporting agencies and law enforcement agencies.
An earlier law, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), provided consumer protections on the use, accuracy, and privacy of consumer credit reports. Originally passed in 1970 and amended in 1996, FCRA ensures that consumers have access to their personal information that lenders, insurers, and others obtain from credit bureaus and use for making decisions about providing credit." (COPS)
Law Enforcement Statistics - "The collection and analysis of law enforcement data is a process that continues to yield valuable information for law enforcement and help advance community policing. For example, law enforcement statistics can help agencies do the following:
Conduct cross-sectional and longitudinal comparison studies (e.g., how does my agency compare with my neighbor regarding available resources, operations, policy, community policing activities)
Support policy decisions
Examine changes in policing over time.
The COPS Office, in its ongoing partnership with the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), has provided funding and substantive expertise for the collection and dissemination of law enforcement statistics through its support of the Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey. The LEMAS survey is administered by the BJS to all law enforcement agencies with 100 or more sworn personnel, as well as a representative sample of smaller agencies. As a result, law enforcement data has been collected on a nationally representative sample of nearly 18,000 publicly funded state and local law enforcement agencies operating full time." (COPS)
As part of my research regarding the COPS program, surveys were conducted with 25 members of the community, including law enforcement and private citizens. The survey included a brief description of the COPS program and six questions. The questions were as follows: (1) Do you know what COPS is, (2) Do you feel that the program is working or not, (3) Do you feel that the police are involved in the community, (4) Would you pay higher taxes to ensure the success of the program, (5) Do you think the City as a whole is working together to make the program successful, and (6) Would you mind more involvement by the police in the community? The interviewed persons represent various perspectives in the community as well as in law enforcement. The survey resulted in these responses: (1) 11=Yes, 7=No, 7=Not Sure, (2) 5=Yes, 18=No, 2=Not Sure, (3) 16=Yes, 9=No, 0=Not Sure, (4) 5=Yes, 19=No, 5=Not Sure, (5) 9=Yes, 11=No, 5=Not Sure, (6) 8=Yes, 15=No, 2=Not Sure.
With what I know now, here are my answers to this survey: (1) Do you know what COPS is? Yes - A Federal program entrusted in assuring that funding is granted agencies is used for educating officers in public interaction. The theory behind C.O.P.S. is that with public interaction breeds a stakeholder "By-in" allowing for a stronger relationship with Law Enforcement. As a result, the public is less reluctant to report crimes or serve as witness. It also allows for a more unprejudiced opinion by the public towards action made by officers. (2) Do you feel that the program is working or not, (3) Do you feel that the police are involved in the community? Yes - This is visible by the current actions of law enforcement agencies and the public. Law Enforcement departments have established off site "sub-stations" throughout high crime areas, within their community. By doing so, it has shown the community that the policing agency has an interest in tranquilizing the effects of crime. The public then establishes more community based programs such as D.A.R.E., citizen patrol, and neighborhood watch. The "marriage" assists in the prevention, reporting, and witness testimony of crime in the community. (3) Yes - Additional sponsored programs such as School Resource Officer, bike patrol, horse-mounted patrol, foot patrol, reserve law enforcement, explorer scout program and other interacting methods of patrol, allows for public interaction. These programs are not solely the core function of a department and are at the mercy of the department's budget or rely on the volunteer services of the public. (4) Would you pay higher taxes to ensure the success of the program? My answer for this question used to be no. However, after more research and learning more about the program and how it is striving to make our communities safer and more caring, my answer has changed to yes. I believe that with proper funding, the COPS program could excel to a much higher level. (5) Do you think the City as a whole is working together to make the program successful? Yes - Initially when C.O.P.S. was first introduced, there was an active line of "us vs. them" concept with the public. Then upon seeing the positive effects of the program, the concept transformed into an everyday practice and interest. Faced with the challenge of yearly budget, departments are not shy from notifying the public of potential sub-station closures with the intent of generating an outcry to civic leaders. (6) Would you mind more involvement by the police in the community? No - There can never be enough public involvement or police participation into the program. The challenge is the lack of staff in ratio to calls for service. For example, a department with many vacancies, challenges the field staff in keeping up with the demand for service leaving very little time for public interaction. It is better said that a department's only hope, is to keep the momentum of its public interaction of community oriented policing active.
Community Oriented Policing Services represents a new model of dealing with crime and the perception of crime in the community. When I started my research about the COPS program, I wasn't sure of what I was going to find. I didn't realize how many different techniques were being used to respond to the ongoing problems in our communities today. In June of 2010, I will be starting an internship with the State of California Department of Justice. I am hoping to somehow become involved with the COPS program and work with them in finding new, productive ways to help make our society a safer place. I will be continuing my research on the techniques being used and try to create new ideas, or help improve the current techniques being used to solve issues in our community. I want my children to know that peace officers are our friends and are only looking out for us. They are not there to annoy and write tickets, but to make sure that we are safe.