Community policing seems to come in and out of favor over the years. Although it came to be popularized in the US in the 1980s, its core principles can be traced back to Sir Robert Peel’s Nine Principles of Policing, summarized most notably in his second principle:
“The power of the police to fulfill their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.”
This emphasizes one of the basic realities of modern policing: in order to do their jobs effectively, police must build a foundation of trust among the communities they serve.
Community policing is once again a hot topic for agencies across the country. This is partly in response to the events of the last year but also key components of it have been proven to work. Your department may have already implemented many of its principles without knowing it.
But what exactly is community policing? There is no explicit cookbook or checklist you can follow. It’s a very broadly defined term and describes more of an approach than an end goal. We like to look at it from at least 3 different levels: strategic, operational, and tactical. But what matters most is that you implement a program that works best for you, your department, and your community.
The strategic level is where you set out your broad philosophical approach. Some examples are: Taking a proactive rather than reactive approach to crime Increasing communications between your department and the different stakeholders in the community Committing to understand and address issues at the micro level.
The operational level is where you lay out specific steps that can help you support your strategic community policing goals. These can include: Organizing or attending neighborhood watch and other informal community meetings Adopting a geographic focus at the beat or district level Defining your officers’ patrol missions by day, shift and beat.
The tactical level describes what your officers do day to day while on patrol. At this point, you may want to provide options to your officers to let them decide their best approach: Get out of the car Make contact with people in a positive way Get to know the dynamics of different neighborhoods Problem solving using methodologies like SARA.
Getting community buy-in to your approach is key. That’s why it’s important to be able to monitor, measure, and report on your community policing activities. Geolitica can help you with these aspects of your community policing implementation, from the strategic level all the way to day-to-day operations and tactics.