When the public hears the term “community policing,” they envision a cop on the beat who knows the local shop owners and is familiar with the residents in town. The beat cop sees and hears everything, knows the routine of the townspeople, and exercises discretion for minor offenses. When police departments deploy community policing strategies, they see the same things as the public does, but their intentions go deeper. Their focus is on developing relationships with civic leaders to gain a better understanding of the needs of the public, identifying crime trends, and preventing law-breaking. Although various departments define community policing in different ways, the concept is not new, and certain agencies – in particular housing authority police departments – are models of community policing. In order to appreciate the difference between standard police model and community policing, it is important to define both and to illustrate the differences.
The standard police model (The Disparity Between Traditional and Community Policing) is a regimented and relatively anonymous, uniformed force which responds to nine-one-one initiated calls for police assistance and focuses on both preventing crime, solving past crimes, and “order maintenance,” also referred to as “keeping the peace.” Officers patrol in marked cars or on foot and concentrate on arresting offenders and upholding the law. Contact with the public is consistent with the motto: “To Protect and Serve,” (The Peelian Principles), and is typically the result of a “reactive policing” philosophy. Officers have little leeway, and the mandate for the department to enforce the law comes from the “coercive power of the law” to gain control.
Community policing is a different concept which has other names (Community-Orientated Policing, Problem Orientated Policing), and has slightly varying definitions, but boils down to the police department serving the community by getting more deeply involved in their problems and involving outside agencies. An officer is given wide-discretion to implement strategies and ideas, while working with businesses, community organizations, and individuals to address crime and quality of life issues. By engaging and interacting with shop owners, housing associations, and youth groups, police learn the specific problems related to a neighborhood and are able to call upon municipal, charitable, or police resources to address the community’s concerns. In addition, citizens feel empowered to report issues to police due to the buildup of trust through regular contact and communication.
The concept of community policing can best be demonstrated by the practices of housing authority police departments throughout the country. Directly serving the residents of public housing, police officers interact daily with tenant groups, community organizers, and individual residents. Officers are able to access the resources of the housing authority for assistance with issues ranging from criminal activity, to noise, to out-of-service elevators. In many areas, the police act as front-line representatives of government. The resourcefulness of street officers, combined with a service-orientated department focusing on community needs, fills the void where other city agencies may be lacking. Community policing is not limited to housing police agencies, but the model is best illustrated by agencies serving public housing due the physical and organizational structure of each public housing development. Individually, they are their own communities with their own unique problems, and housing police units employing community policing methods are best able to provide security for these locations.
End of Part I
About the Author: Michael J. Kannengieser is the author of the police thriller, The Daddy Rock. He is a retired New York City police officer who lives on Long Island with his wife and two children. Michael worked as the Managing Editor for Fiction at The View from Here magazine, a U.K. based literary publication. Currently, he is employed at a performing arts college as an Instructional Technology Administrator. He has been published at The View from Here, and in Newsday, a Long Island newspaper. Michael is a contributor to Criminal Justice News. Click Here to buy a copy of Michael J. Kannengieser's new novel "The Daddy Rock."
The February 22, 2013, episode of American Heroes Radio features a conversation between Michael J. Kannengieser, a retired NYPD police officer and the host, Raymond E. Foster, a retired LAPD Lieutenant, on the similarities and differences between NYPD and LAPD on community policing.
Program Date: February 22, 2013
Program Time: 1500 hours, PACIFIC
Topic: LAPD to NYPD: Community Policing
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