We hear the term “community policing,” but what does it mean? And what does it mean to police officers?
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Community policing is another attempt by law enforcement to make a difference in crime, for time has taught us that police officers alone cannot put an end to crime. We have learned it takes the cooperation of the community and the police officers to make a dent in crime.
In regards to what is community policing, we need to first realize its objective, which is to combat all types of crime that may occur in communities. There has always been an array of methods employed by police departments throughout the country, if not the world to fight and deter crime. Community policing is a relatively new method created by police agencies to make a dent in crime.
The idea is to create a relationship between a community and the officers assigned to that area. First, though, police departments must make sure the same officers are assigned to a particular area consistently, for what is wanted is a development of trust between these parties.
This approach is proactive in that it keeps the same officers in the community and makes them communicate with residents on a daily basis. The familiarity creates trust and confidence in the officers that work in the area. These officers are at times on foot patrolling the community and even if the officers are in a patrol vehicle, they are required to at times park their vehicle and walk in the community. If a positive relationship can be developed, the residents of that community can be the eyes and ears of the officers when they are not around, for remember, the most important aspect of community policing is the community. Community policing is a philosophy of cooperation.
In addition, residents can relay issues of concern to officers, which gives the officers a leg-up as to what to look for in the community in regards to crime. The officers also educate members of the community on how to deter crime; this includes helping to establish a neighborhood watch program. A neighborhood watch program in any community is a vital component in protecting its residents and property. This is communities working together to protect themselves from lawbreakers by constantly watching the goings and comings that happens in their district and relaying anything out of the ordinary to their community officers.
All parties working together now create a partnership to make the community safer. It must also be said that by having such cooperation, officers will now take it personally if crime is committed on their watch, or just in their area. For in community policing the officers do not have to wonder if the residents care about what goes on in their community, they know they do and they do not want to disappoint the members of that community that they may have become attached to because of community policing. This is motivation for officers because they know their efforts are not in vain. This is a good thing, for if officers take such a stance against crime in their area, their efforts to catch the culprit, or simply stop it from ever happening again will increase. Experience has taught me that there is nothing more effective in fighting crime than a motivated officer. Community policing is one of the many effective tools that law enforcement uses these days to combat the scourge that is crime.