The Level Of Officer Commitment Towards Community Policing Criminology Essay

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Commitment has continued to gain prominence in all human organizations. Organization managers and researchers have been keen to study the relationships that exist between commitment to organization and strategy as well productivity and efficiency. Community policing came to police organizations around the world as a promising new program which is cable of improving law enforcement, reducing crime rate in the society and addressing the deteriorating police-community relations. Community policing have widely gained acceptance both philosophically and practically by many police organizations around the world, nevertheless questions still remain as to the extent to which it has been accepted and if all police officers who are at the lower level saddled with the responsibility of implementing it are committed to the program. This study is therefore interested in examining the commitment of Malaysian police towards community policing, specifically, the study is going to (a) find out whether commitment of police officers in Malaysia is affected by their rank and position in the hierarchy of the organization, and (b) to determine if there is any difference in commitment of officers based on district of duty. The survey method was adopted using a questionnaire adopted from previous studies on officer commitment, a total of 197 police officers responded from three districts of Alor Gajah, Jasin and Malacca Tengah. Officers used in this study were chosen by administrative recommendation. Findings reveal that majority of police officers in Malaysia have high commitment to community policing, results from the study also showed that there is a no significant difference in commitment level by rank of officers and district of duty.

Key words: community policing, commitment, engagement

1.0 Introduction

As a mechanism for facilitating crime control by police officers, community policing has come to enrich the relationship between the police and citizens (Yates, Pillai &Vijayan, 1996). This enrichment becomes necessary to enable the police to have confidence in the support they receive from the public for the purpose of crime control and advancing civil order (Krishnan et al, 2012). In the last two to three decades, traditional policing have received tremendous criticism (Trojanowicz & Bucqueroux, 1990 in Cheurprokobkit & Puthpongsiriporn, 2005), especially as crime rates continued to grow as society becoming more and more complex. In Malaysia, and Kuala Lumpur in particular crime rate grew from 121, 176 in 2007 to 156, 455 in 2004, by 2006 the number of recorded crimes stood at 198, 622. (Crime index statistics, 2011)

Adopting the ideals of community policing is one thing and implementing it is another, Lucas et al (2003) observed that line officers most welcome and commit to the tenants of community policing for the programme to success as they are in the best position to actualize the precepts. This signifies that the accomplishment of community policing ideals will be determined by the extent of zeal exhibited by police officers (Yates, Pillai &Vijayan, 1996).

This necessitates a study of such, to among others things ascertain the level and extent of commitment of Malaysian police towards community policing. The study also intends to finding out if police officer rank has any influence on commitment level or not. Finally, the study is interested in comparing results from three districts to see if there is any difference in officer commitment to community policing in the state of Malacca.

There are so many factors which can influence officer commitment; studies on working climate have shown that the feeling of police towards their job is influenced by their social interaction which greatly influences the quality of law enforcement they offer, in another study by Halsted et al, 2000. & Lilley and Hinduja (2007). Job satisfaction was found to be associated with officers' attitudes toward community policing

Other studies have revealed that top management support correlates positively with employee productivity and general conduct (Setton, Bennett, and Liden, 1996). Furthermore, police work is prone to many challenges depending on the content an officer is assigned, therefore this study is of the opinion that the content of an officers work is capable of influencing his level of commitment, Rosenbaum and Wilkinson (2004) observed that the introduction of community policing is likely to make officers feel a change of work which may not be easy and so officer could exhibit an aura of opposition and thus not commit. Another concern by this study is community support, Officers who believed that they are esteemly perceived by the public proclaim affirmative behaviour towards community policing and elevated levels of job satisfaction and commitment (Boke and Nalla, 2009). Good working relationship and support by peers have been found to be positively related with community policing (Lurigo and Skogan, 1994). These previous studies have continued to challenge scholars and researchers as to whether the results could be replicated and the same results realised.

Based on this background, this study want to ascertain the relationship that exist between job satisfaction, co-workers support, management support, officer job content and community support towards the commitment of officers towards community policing in Malaysian context.

2.0 Conceptual overview.

2.1 Community Policing

Despite the fact that there have been a lot of fierce argument on the definition of community policing (Kang, 2012), it has developed in acceptance, and most police organizations claim to engage in community policing (Lewis et al., 1999; Moon, 2006; Rosenbaum and Lurigo, 1994). The concept is currently becoming "multidimensional" as implementation vary in various modes (Yero et al,2012)

As a law enforcement theory, community policing is premised on the concept that cooperation and backing by the community can help in addressing issues of public safety, criminality, social disorder and fear of crime. Community policing therefore is all about engagement with the community by way of organizational configuration of police force and changing the daily routine of agency officer (Sagrave and Ratcliffe, 2004). Three facets constitute community policing: community partnership, organizational transformation and proactive problem solving (USDOJ; Fridell 2004).

Organizationally, the prevailing arraignment and administration of law enforcement is remodelled, with the aim of encouraging community commitment and steadfast solution of community ills. Problem solving is necessary to effectively avert crime as the police are then addressing the essential predicament of crime not just merely reacting to the same setting repeatedly (Fridell 2004:6). Based on the realization that the police cannot address crime alone, partnership so that trust can be built and common solution to problems can initiated (USDOJ 2009:3 in schols, 2011).

For the purpose of this research, community policing is conceived as an engagement strategy with the civil public for the purpose of crime prevention and improving the quality of life.

2.2 Commitment.

Exploiting the full potential of officers to ensure law and order has become one of the most constant problems of police organizations (Takebe, 2010)1. This is why police organizations view commitment as necessary to ensure loyalty; by extension Coser (1974:1) observed that "loyalty even in the face of competing appeals from other source within the wider social structure".2 Over the years, there appear to be lack of established definition among scholars on what commitment denotes, perhaps this lead to the multidimensional approach scholars adopt in construct (Meyer & Allen, 1991 in Meyer & Herscovitch, 2001)3. Despite the fact that commitment has no universal definition, a close observation of various definitions reveals a core element. For example, Baker (1960:32) defined commitment as "extraneous interests which are linked to consistent line of activity and comes into being when a person makes a side bet"4. From organizational view, "commitment represent "a psychological state that binds the individual to an organization" (Rusbilt & Farrell, 1983)5. Strategically, commitment denotes "willingness of the person to put forth effort to enact the strategy" (Weissbein, Plamondon & Ford, 1998:3)6. Occupationally, commitment can be seen as "ones motivation to work in a chosen vocation" (Carson & Bedeian, 1994:240)7.

From the above conceptions, one element stands out, which is psychological and mind-set, i.e. frame of mind or psychological state that compels an individual towards a course of action. For the purpose of this study therefore, commitment will be viewed form the core essence it represent.

Research objectives.

The main objective of this study is to find out the level of commitment among police office towards community policing. Specifically, the research want to (a) find out if there is any difference based on rank police officer's rank and the level of commitment towards community policing, (b) to ascertain whether the level of police officer commitment vary among the three district of Alor Gajah, Jasin and Melaka Tengah, where the study cover.

Methodology

4.1 Sample

This study employs survey design using questionnaire instrument for data collection from a sample of 197 Malaysian police officers in October 2012. Three districts were selected from the state of Malacca (Alor gajah, Jasin and Malacca Tengah). These districts are similar to each other because all have introduced community policing as a strategy for the purpose of crime prevention and control and these districts are looking forward to expand the initiative. The respondents for this survey are officers who participate in community policing in their districts and range in rank from constable to inspectors and senior officers. The respondent officers were also chosen with the help of administrative support officers from various Balai (stations) under the districts. There are a total of 197 respondents who completed the questionnaire in the presence of the research team; it is believed that the respondents chosen have the potential to respond creditably well to meet the objective of the study.

4.2 Measurement

Previously utilized scale of measurement was adopted to measure the commitment of officers to community policing, the survey instrument was adopted from Ford, Weissbein and Plamondon (2006) strategy and organizational commitment measure consisting of six and 8 item scale. The scales were modified to reflect the socio-cultural characteristics of Malaysian society and police, three senior officers were also consulted to verify if the instrument reflect the police values. Considering the prominence of Bahasa Melay as well as being the most fluently spoken language by the respondents, the English version was further translated by two bilingual researchers before being administered on the respondents. Further the instrument was sent to two senior officers in the Malaysian police to verify if it reflect the English version and the appropriateness of the instrument.

Findings and Discussion

5.1 Demographic profile

Table 1 presents a demographic breakdown of the police officers involved in this study; these variables include gender, marital status, religion, race and level of education. From the result below we can see that a total of 164 (83.4%) of the respondents were male while 33 (16.8%) are female. This shows that majority of the officers who participated in this study are male. With regards to marital status, 41 (20.8%) of the respondents are single while 148 (75.1%) are married, only 8 (4.1%) were found to be divorced. Region on the other hand shows that 184 (93.4%) of the officers are Muslims, 7 (3.6%) are Christians and 6 (3.0%) and of Hindu faith. Racially, the Malay were found to be majority with 182 (92.4%) respondents followed by Indians with 7 (3.6%). The Indians were followed by the b/putera Sarawak with 4 (2.0%) while the Chinese and b/putera Sarawak have 2 (1.0%) represented in the sample. This shows that though the Malays were most populous in this study, all the ethnic groups are have been featured, we can also say that majority of police officers in Malaysia are from the Malays ethnic group.

Educationally, the figures shows that 147 (74.6%) have Malaysian certificate of education and 26 (13.2%) have higher Malaysian certificate of education, this shows that majority of police officers are very much educated. 20(10.2%) of the officers also have a lower certificate of education while only two officers; one with degree and another with PhD were part of the respondents group representing .5% each, with a total of 1% within the sample size. Finally, 2 (1.0%) respondent within the study have indicated having educational level that is lower than that of the Malaysian lower certificate of education

Table 1

N

%

Gender

male

164

83.2

female

33

16.8

Marital

status

Single

41

20.8

Married

148

75.1

Divorced

8

4.1

Religion

Islam

184

93.4

Christianity

7

3.6

Hindu

6

3.0

Race

Malay

182

92.4

Chinese

2

1.0

Indian

7

3.6

b/putera sabah

2

1.0

b/putera sarawak

4

2.0

Level of education

Upsr

2

1.0

Pmr

20

10.2

Spm

147

74.6

Stpm

26

13.2

Ijazah

1

.5

Masters/PhD

1

.5

5.2 Commitment to Community Policing

Table 2 shows the overall measurement of commitment of the police officers towards community policing, using the combined 6 item scale to measuring strategy commitment and 8 item scale measuring organizational commitment (as modified), the result based on scale of measurement shows that a very high number of officers 178 (90.4%) exhibit high level of commitment to community policing.

Table 2 level of commitment

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

low(1.00-2.399)

1

.5

.5

.5

medium(2.340-3.699)

18

9.1

9.1

9.6

high(3.670-5.00)

178

90.4

90.4

100.0

Total

197

100.0

100.0

Survey research, 2012

5.3 Officer rank and Commitment to Community Policing

Found in Korean thesisPrevious studies have indicated that there is a relationship that exists between commitment and community policing, Chang-Hun and Chang Bae (2011:716) observed that With respect to "role-related factors", the rank of officer has an effect on the officer's attitude and approach. The shift to community policing has brought about tremendous shift by police organizations, i.e. a move from traditional bureaucratic system to an integral structure (Katz and Kahn, 1966; Kuykendall and Roberg, 1982).Consequently, the community policing strategy affected the duties, actions, and performance, not only for line officers, but also for supervisors and administrators (Engel, 2001; Van Maane, 1984). Trojanowicz (1980), for example, argued that perhaps, police officers with the rank of sergeants can build up a change of seeming consciousness as a result of clash between their obligation to the organization leaders and their engagement with subordinates. Engel (2001) further found that police lieutenants were more committed to contemporary administrative approaches, which promotes community policing and problem-solving activities within junior officers while sergeants exhibited preferred traditional supervisory style. The following findings exhibit the existence of divergence in attitude at personal level by officers towards community policing by their rank.

In Malaysian context, result from this survey showed that 174 (90.2%) of the officers portrayed a high level of commitment to community policing while 18 (9.3%) exhibited medium level of commitment. Only 1 (.5) last corporal indicated low level of commitment. The result also support previous studies which showed that higher officers exhibit higher level of commitment compared to junior officers (Engels, 2001., Seltzer, Alone, and Howard, 1996), however in contrast this study revealed that to a significant level, junior officers exhibit a significant level of commitment, even though the only officer in this study that shower low level of commitment happens to be a last corporal.

Table 3

rank * commitment level Cross tabulation

Rank

commitment level

low

medium

High

Constable

Count

0

4

26

%

.0%

2.1%

13.5%

Last corporals

Count

1

4

44

%

.5%

2.1%

22.8%

Corporal

Count

0

9

80

%

.0%

4.7%

41.5%

Sergeant

Count

0

1

9

%

.0%

.5%

4.7%

Sergeant major

Count

0

0

7

%

.0%

.0%

3.6%

Inspector & higher

Count

0

0

8

%

.0%

.0%

4.1%

Total

Count

1

18

174

%

.5%

9.3%

90.2%

* 4 police officers did not fill out the commitment section.

This study also sought to investigate whether officers will portray different level of commitment based on district, studies have shown that working environmental such as peer support (Lurigo and Skogan, 1994), management support (Setton, Bennett, and Liden, 1996) and community support (Boke and Nalla, 2009), could affect commitment levels. The results from this study showed a high mean for the three districts combined. 77 officers in Alor Gajah responded to the instrument representing 39.1% of the total population, 67 (34.0%) showed a high level of commitment while 10 (5.1%) revealed a medium level of commitment. In the district of Jasin 42 (21.3%) of officers responded, 39 (19.8%) showed a commitment level while 2 (1.0%) had medium level of commitment, only 1 (.5%) officer showed low level of commitment. This result is similar to the previous, when testing for commitment based on rank, only one officer was also found to be having low commitment. In Malacca Tengah, 78 (39.6%) officers participated in the study, 72 (36.5%) showed high commitment level, while 6 (3.0%) revealed medium level commitment. In both Alor Gajah and Malacca tengah, no single officer showed any sign of low commitment.

Districts * commitment level Cross tabulation

commitment level

Low

medium

high

districts

alor gajah

Count

0

10

67

%

.0%

5.1%

34.0%

Jasin

Count

1

2

39

%

.5%

1.0%

19.8%

malacca tengah

Count

0

6

72

%

.0%

3.0%

36.5%

Total

Count

1

18

178

%

.5%

9.1%

90.4%

Survey research, 2012

District

n

Mean total

SD

F

P

Alor gajah

77

4.1690

.4746

.286

.752

Jasin

42

Malacca

78

Survey research, 2012

6.0 Conclusion

This study concludes that, there exists a high level of commitment to community policing officer in the case study. However it must be noted that since this study was conducted in only three districts, using this result for generalization should be cautiously done, only officer rank and district was also measured so further research most also be done to test commitment and age or years of service and level of education.

Importantly, adopting community policing and implementing it system wise is not an easy task therefore, time most be give to really access the level at which officers commit as they enhance their understanding of community policing over time.

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