Community Oriented Policing vs Problem Term Paper

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(1990) Municipal Government Involvement in Crime Prevention in Canada. This work provides insight into the way that municipal government interacts with the police in the organization of crime prevention structures and the delivery of crime prevention services and activities. (Hastings, 1990, p. 108)

The idea of municipal government interaction in crime prevention is shown to have been spurred on in Canada by "....the successes of locally organized and community-based initiatives in North America. In both cases, the involvement reflects a sense that, whatever crime prevention is, the police cannot do it alone." (Hastings, 1990, p. 108) This again attests to the prevailing theme in the literature that there is a general consensus that the police force faces problems that are complex and which require the interaction and the assistance of other local community and municipal structures.

Hastings emphasizes this sense of interaction in the field of community policing and particularly the way that the focus of policing responsibility has shifted from specific problems to a wider sense of community involvement. "Therefore, police responsibly has tended to move in the direction of interaction and cooperation with other agencies in controlling and coordinating the investigation of organized crime." (Hastings, 1990, p. 115)

In this regard Hastings notes the important emergence of crime prevention councils. These councils are an indication of the direction of modern policing and the faith in community policing "... such councils are initiated and directed by local elected officials. Though they usually involve local police forces, the very existence of such councils reflects the recognition that crime prevention must go beyond traditional approaches to law enforcement and into the social policy arena." (Hastings, 1990, p. 115)

The literature also points out how modern types of crime are often not able to be adequately dealt with by the more focused and limited problem solving policing methods. This is often seen in instances of policing and hates crimes.

The following is a definition of hate crime from the 1998 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Summit on Hate Crime in America. "A hate crime is a criminal offense committed against persons, property or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by an offender's bias against an individual's or a group's race, religion, ethnic/national origin, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation. " (Turner N.) Hate crimes are a particularly complex form of crime and challenges the idea of conventional policing responsibilities. This is due to the fact that this form of crime is deeply embedded in biases and perceptions in the community and society. Many critics are of the opinion that a model of policing responsibility which only deals with the effect or result of this sort of crime is not adequate. In other words, problem solving policing which focuses mainly on the manifestations crime and does not pay adequate attention to the underlying causes and dimensions of the crime, is not seen as being sufficient to deal with this complex type of social problem. Therefore there has in many cases been an extension or enlargement of policing responsibilities in this regard. The International Association of Police Chiefs states that, "Hate crimes and hate incidents are major issues for all police because of their unique impact on victims as well as the community." (Turner N.)

Furthermore, hate crimes are particularly problematic in the United States, with its "... long history of racially-motivated assaults and murders, lynchings, etc." (Media Crime 1.) Statistics also show a relatively high incidence of this crime. "A total of 11,987 law enforcement agencies in 49 states and the District of Columbia collectively reported 9,730 bias-motivated incidents during 2001. " (Media Crime 1.) The high incidence of this crime as well as its potential to inculcate further crime and social discontent has resulted in various legal responsibilities for the police. "As of 1999, 41 states and the District of Columbia have hate crime statutes that provide enhanced penalties for crimes in which victims are selected because of a perpetrator's bias against a victim's perceived race, religion or ethnicity. " (Media Crime 1.)

Therefore the police have a particularly heavy responsibility in this regard and the response to hate crimes should be swift and effective in order to help the victims as well as to stabilize the society and community. A failure to respond effectively can lead to the possible jeopardy of public safety as well as affecting the public image of the police department. Furthermore, "By doing the job efficiently and carefully, police can reinforce the message that hate crimes will be investigated aggressively, thus enhancing the likelihood of a successful prosecution." (Media Crime 1.)

This has been a particularly worrying aspect of policing as the allegations of racism and prejudice have in recent years been leveled at the police. "Discrimination against blacks by law enforcement officers has been well documented in the literature..." And " The substantial body of research that concludes that police officers frequently exhibit prejudice and discrimination against blacks in the discharge of their duties.." (Markowitz & Jones-Brown, 2000, p. 126) Studies like these emphasize the importance of community oriented policing over the narrower, reactive form of policing of the past. The allegations of prejudice directed at the police have been one of the motivating factors towards a form of policing that takes cognizance of the community.

Studies also indicate that community police agencies are seen as service-orientated organizations. (Leighton, 1991, p. 492) Therefore in terms of the way that the police in a community context are perceived, they are not seen as a "force" to solve particular problems but rather as a "police service."

Because police officers serve and protect the public and provide related services to the public for crime and disorder problems, the preferred title of their organizations is now a "police service." This service orientation is consistent with the interpretation of urban policing as another municipal service, along with health, education, etc., which are delivered as legal and social justice entitlements to local taxpayers. (Leighton, 1991, p. 492)

The literature is careful to point out that this can result in a radical change of organization role and function of the police service or force. As already mentioned, one of the central issues that impacts on the debate between problem solving and community modes of policing is that the adaptation of the service and community structure changes the very way in which conventional, policing responsibilities have been organized.

In the first instance many studies point out that that community policing now adopts standards and methods that have been used in the private sector, such as partnerships and performance values such as the "search for excellence." (Leighton, 1991, p. 492) This in effect means that the very structure of policing is being remodeled and is adopting a corporate mode of action and responsibility.

This is in contrast to the previous policing model which"... primarily serves the limited outcome of police work focused largely on crime control. This emphasis is symbolically represented by the use of "police force" as the preferred term for their organizations." (Leighton, 1991, p. 492)

An article which provides insight into the historical rationale and antecedents to the change in the way that policing responsibility has been perceived is Policing Post-9/11 by Robert J. Louden (2005). This article concisely shows how the move from a purely problem solving perspective to community policing was a result, firstly, of the move towards greater sense of professionalism in the police force in the 1960's and 1970's. There was at this time a desire to "... streamline bureaucracy, decentralize decision-making, and instill in the patrol officer a sense of commitment to the neighborhood and community." (Louden, 2005, p. 757)

This period of American history was also one of tumult and social unrest; particularly with regard to civil right issues. A greater need for a partnership between the police and the public sector became necessary and in the 1980's was seen as an essential aspect of combating crime. "One common thread in the various police efforts was an endeavor to reach out to the community and establish friends and helpers in the fight against crime." (Louden, 2005, p. 757)

The precursor to the present state and general acceptance of community policing can seen in the following quotation.

Rather than cling to the simplistic notion that the criminal law defines the police role, we come to realize that policing consists of developing the most effective means for dealing with a multitude of troublesome situations. And these means will often, but not always, include appropriate use of the criminal law. (Louden, 2005, p. 757)

The events of the tragedy of 9/11 of course led to the realization that crime and especially the fight against terrorism could only be effectively achieved with a new model of policing which emphasized a close and symbiotic relationship between the police and the community. It is not too much to say that the increases in terrorism and its affect…[continue]

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