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What Is Community Policing?

Effective community policing has a positive impact on reducing neighborhood crime, helping to reduce fear of crime and enhancing the quality of life in the community. It accomplishes these things by combining the efforts and resources of the police, local government and community members. 

Community policing is a collaborative effort between the police and the community that identifies problems of crime and disorder and involves all elements of the community in the search for solutions to these problems. It is founded on close, mutually beneficial ties between police and community members. 

Community policing offers a way for law enforcement to help re-energize our communities. Developing strong, self-sufficient communities is an essential step in creating an atmosphere in which serious crime will not flourish. 

Community policing seeks the input and talents of all members of the community in the effort to safeguard our neighborhoods. At the center of community policing are three essential and complementary core components: community partnership, problem solving and change management. 

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What Makes Community Policing Different?

Law enforcement has long recognized the need for cooperation with the community it serves. Officers speak to neighborhood groups, participate in business and civic events, consult with social agencies and take part in education programs for school children. Foot, bike and horse patrols bring police closer to the community. 

Law enforcement is looking to enhance its tough stance on crime with renewed focus on strategies that help prevent crime, reduce fear of crime and improve the quality of life in neighborhoods. This requires an intimate knowledge of the community. 

How Does Community Policing Work?

Crime prevention takes on renewed importance in community policing as the police and the community become partners in addressing problems of disorder and neglect that can breed serious crime. As links between the police and the community are strengthened over time, the partnership is better able to pinpoint and mitigate the underlying causes of crime. 

Patrol officers and deputies are the primary providers of police services in community policing efforts. They handle the daily policing needs of the community. The entire police organization backs the efforts of the neighborhood officers. 

Effective community policing depends on optimizing contact between patrol officers and community members so that the officer develops an intimate knowledge of the day-to-day workings of the community and becomes a familiar figure to community members. 

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Long-Term Commitment Needed

Community policing does not offer a quick fix. It requires a long-term commitment by police to work with community members to reach mutually agreed-upon goals. Forming lasting partnerships to eradicate the underlying causes of crime will take effort, time and patience on the part of all involved. 

Establishing and maintaining mutual trust is the central goal of community partnership. Trust will give the police greater access to valuable information that can lead to the prevention of and solution of crimes. It will also engender support for police activities and provide a basis for a productive working relationship with the community that will find solutions to local problems. 

Law enforcement is finding that in addition to bringing police closer to the people, community policing offers a myriad of other benefits. Making effective use of the talents and resources available within communities will help extend severely strained police resources. As police interaction with the community becomes more positive, productive partnerships will be formed, leading to greater satisfaction with police services and increased job satisfaction among officers. Reduced levels of crime will allow more police 
resources to be allocated to services that have the greatest impact on the quality of community life

Talk About It

Communication is the foundation for cooperation, coordination, collaboration and change. t is important to start communication early in the community policing implementation process. 

If you are a representative of a law enforcement agency that is interested in implementing community policing, examine with your peers the crime control problems in your community and discuss how a community policing approach can enhance your current enforcement efforts. Share what you know about community policing with community members and representatives of community groups. Begin talking to them about their perceptions of crime and disorder in their neighborhoods. 

If you are a civilian, contact your local law enforcement agency to discuss its community policing efforts. Ask them how you, as a member of the community, can assist them in addressing the problems of concern to you in your neighborhood.

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