The Effectiveness Of Community Policing Criminology Essay

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After careful analysis of several gathered qualitative studies and views from police officers, politicians, and designated community members, all of which are fluent with the method of 'community policing', one should conclude that not only the community understands what community policing is, but the community also understands how and why it was implemented, and how it can be measured by its effectiveness to show a continuing pattern; it is a program and method that will continue to change and evolve with newer adaptations and strategies in the future. With the implementation of community policing in Canada, the community has undertaken a general insight of what it is and how it works, however the apparent identity of this new endeavor is misinterpreted and has caused confusion amongst community members as to how it is a visible and usable aspect to the typical policing style in Canada and the United States. There has also been debates regarding the actual implementation of this policing method throughout the various communities who have adopted this method; some of the more common concerns are based on measured effectiveness and appropriate use 'can the police actually use this model effectively?' The intelligent answer to this question would not be to look at statistics and studies, but to look at the effective ways this policing technique has been acknowledged by the community; furthermore, understanding what the main goal and definition that community policing carries with its title and reputation, will help further the knowledge and understanding of how it is to be measured and documented in a formal study. The underlining statement is that community policing must not be looked at as a statistic or applicable data entry, but an object that helps the community and policing services provided across the nation to adapt to the ever-changing community needs and demands of today's society.

An approach on how to define community policing, so that everyone may understand and benefit from the method, has been defined as, "depending on community involvement, community policing is the best way to engage a community and invites its members to participate in law enforcement." (U.S Department of Justice, 2002) The idea behind this concept of community policing is mainly to have the community involved actively with the police, to strive towards a main goal of prevention. The perception of this policing style or method would be commonly seen as confusing, or an undermined effort to help the community (Victor E. Kappeler, 2009); these 3 different categories split the confusion of community policing up into: Team Policing, where an emphasized pattern of 'round-the-clock' policing in a specific geographic location takes effect (Victor E. Kappeler, 2009); Police-Community relation, this is generally geared towards having the community place their input on where the deviant places are and where a program such as 'CPTED'(Crime Prevention through Environmental Design) would be most effective to preventing crime (Victor E. Kappeler, 2009); the final cause of confusion lies within crime prevention itself; crime prevention is the general meaning of crime being prevented in high-risk geographical situations (Victor E. Kappeler, 2009). Public perception was arguably one of the most important factors in establishing a strong definition of what community policing was going to do for the community itself; with the ever-growing ethnic diversity throughout the Western World (North America), "there is a need to view the police positively" (Victor E. Kappeler, 2009). With attitudes in mind, one should realize the utmost importance of how diverse the populous is and its ever-changing 'subgroup' of people, and focusing on why they have conflicting perceptions of the police and the new styles of policing, such as community policing, "In dealing with community problems" (Benedict, 2000). Overtime the community would both agree and disagree with this particular method involving community policing however, this would be explored and explained through the actual implementation of community policing; the grasp of what the definition of community policing is slowly getting stronger over time with the inclusion of more and more evidence and community participation; ultimately leading a path towards total community participation in crime prevention.

Community policing as a whole has had its up's and down's throughout the beginning stages of its implementation, this period of certainty and effectiveness continues today with several studies and debates. Before examining the actual effectiveness of community policing, one ought to review the several dynamic and static ways that community policing strategies and programs were implemented throughout modern societies. In the start of the new style of policing (community policing) there was much hesitance to implement such a venture simply because of the feelings from officers and the "hierarchical centralized bureaucracies that are often resistant to change" (Chappell, 2009) in policing styles. Allison T. Chappell argues that in order for community policing to be implemented and carried out effectively the officers who use it, must overcome any centralized opinions or views that were taught to them originally (2009). The general idea behind community policing is to step away from the normal style or traditional style of policing, and move to decentralizing the more common theme of policing styles. Generic studies have tried repeatedly to relate effectiveness with implementation of community policing; the simple fact is that community policing has many faces to its identity and cannot always be identified as an immediate community policing method. Common perspectives and points of view from officers who use the community policing style vary from culture, race, gender and education level, but mainly follow the same systematic approach with the way their specific community is constantly changing from day to day. (Vivian B. Lord, 2008) Research has shown that women and people of a more ethnic background are more tuned into using the community style policing (Vivian B. Lord, 2008); people with higher levels of education are also more likely to resort to using community policing methods due to their nature with higher education and further knowledge on subjects such as social interaction (Vivian B. Lord, 2008). A step taken by police forces prior to the implementation of community policing, was analyzing their officers' attitudes and thoughts on how an everyday or typical task should be carried out; this ultimately leads to discovering how that particular police department should implement community policing, and furthering the study to the officer, on which type of community policing style would be best fit. (Vivian B. Lord, 2008)

Simple steps for implementing policing styles such as community policing, average 8 steps from start to finish: the first step comes from the performance gap - identifying such issues as why homicides occur are examples of just attacking the problem, police departments and services need to realize this method and overcome it with "details as to where this department is, and how its community policing program should look like" (Victor E. Kappeler, 2009). The following step includes the police services and community recognizing a need for change - having police officers and community members realize that implementing a community style policing is a new aspect and needs time to overtake the traditional style of policing; this causes the confusion between whether or not community policing is effective. The realization that community policing is now the new style is the second step to making sure community policing is effective (Victor E. Kappeler, 2009). Step three involves creating a proper climate for change - the steps involved in making sure this main step is followed through is applying a selling point or a "prize-like" offering for the new method and what it has to bring; this way officers and police services will be more likely to conform and accept the change in policing style (Victor E. Kappeler, 2009). The fourth step involves bring in what step 2 had; diagnosing the problem - this step itself is to bring the community and police together to evaluate what needs to be done in order to achieve its success in crime prevention (Victor E. Kappeler, 2009) The fifth and sixth step both coincide with each other in the ways of identifying alternative strategies and selecting the 'proper' strategy - the first part of these steps is reviewing the current strategy of policing, and then looking towards other alternatives to what can be changed; the second aspect of these steps is selecting the more appropriate strategy that can be used to influence a positive reaction of implementing community policing (Victor E. Kappeler, 2009). Step seven uses community policing and the objectives of community policing by decentralizing the formal structure of policing and using more common terms such as 'thinking outside the box' and 'being creative with ideas', when preparing for the implementation of this policing method (Victor E. Kappeler, 2009). The final step in the implementation of community policing is mainly based around evaluating the program and understanding how it works, how it has worked, and how it will work. Understanding these concepts will help produce an accurate way to measure the effectiveness and will also give an understanding as to what should be done to the current style of community policing in regards to changing and shaping it to what the community actually requires/needs to focus on. (Victor E. Kappeler, 2009)

The question of whether or not community policing works and can it be measured is constantly being asked by communities, politicians, and even police services who employ or use the community policing method. The simple breakdown of this question leads to the answer that community policing does work and in ways the community has to realize before jumping to a conclusion that it is strictly data that provides concrete evidence. The more common way to reveal how community policing works is to ask and review the answers that a community member would reveal about the topic; examples of this are seen throughout Canada where community policing is a prioritized goal of that particular region or department. In Edmonton, the Edmonton Police Service offers, "an exclusive opportunity for individuals with professional or personal interest in community policing to acquire knowledge on police issues, practices and operations in the City of Edmonton." (Edmonton Police Service, 2010) The community program offers several different training requirements to be an active member of a unit involved with community policing, which in the police service located in Edmonton, works on a daily basis and is ever changing. Another city in Canada, Cornwall, Ontario, has had a history of effectiveness with community policing, nearly 2 decades of community oriented policing strategies, in which community involvement has been a key factor in the constant reduction in crime since 1992 (Cornwall Community Police Service, 2010). Measuring effectiveness of community policing extends well past the statistical attributes, and can go as far as the types of programs that have been successful from the beginning and those particular programs that continue to evolve; examples of programs that are community policing oriented and that have spawned from this method, are programs such as 'CPTED' and 'Drive Wise'. Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) is the single most successful and most recognizable form of community policing in today's community. This program itself not only takes in the fundamental basics and requirements for what particular communities need, but the communities that have issues, this program takes in the input and uses that input to change and shape the environment that in the end will help reduce if not eliminate crime in certain areas (Crowe, 2010). In Port Stanley, Ontario, they use community policing methods as the primary tool in their policing and community policing activities; these methods have proved time and time again that community styled and based policing is an effective method of preventing crimes. Port Stanley's community has taken a pro-active approach on crime prevention, and using one of their more notable accomplishments, Port Stanley can show the real effectiveness of community policing: "Helped shut down a local drug lab… the local Community Policing officer to the scene, resulting in charges laid against two people." (Maginnis, 2009) Further statistics that show a significant reduction in crime come from this township again; Port Stanley, back in 1993 had roughly 407 reported crimes in that year (Maginnis, 2009). Looking further through the statistics posted, one should conclude that community policing does take time. Port Stanley's community policing efforts took a 5 year period to reduce crime by nearly 27%, and then continuing to adapt different styles of community policing and eventually leading to an outstanding 66% crime reduction rate over 15years and counting (Maginnis, 2009). This is just a small example of how community policing, given time, can evolve and grow into a great and effective way of policing and crime prevention, given the tools, knowledge, and participation in all.

Throughout the analysis of how community policing has been defined, implemented, while facing attitudes from officers, communities and politicians alike, community policing has had long lasting effect, pending the several different aspects of acceptance, implementation, and measured effectiveness. The overall effectiveness is still a young and vulnerable 'statistic' that can be shaped to favor either argument on does it work, however, granting community policing a large enough time span within a decade and with resources to help fund both the police services and communities working together with this method, will eventually lead to a statistical representation and data that is able to accurately show the documented success of community policing and its several programs. Further education amongst the community and police services that do acquire and employ this modern style of policing, is most definitely required to ensure the continuation of how to adapt to the ever-changing community, especially to communities with a diverse cultural background. In the United States, a congressional district representative, Alan Mollohan, mentions that community policing has influenced a significant crime rate drop since 1993 to 2002, this was solely due to the efforts of such programs such as COPS.(Mollohan, 2003) Final reviews on the effectiveness and whether or not the community understands what community policing is, depends on how the policing style was delivered, assessed, and administered; after all, community policing is only possible when the community is a part of the solution.

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