Establishing a Community Policing Program Term Paper

  • Length: 20 pages
  • Subject: Criminal Justice
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #54696928

Excerpt from Term Paper :

According to Rohe and his colleagues, though, "Over time, however, there has been a tendency for departments to expand their programs to involve a larger number of officers and to cover wider geographic areas. Besides these special units, a number of police departments also expect all of their officers to embrace the principles of community policing and to undertake at least some community problem-solving activities" (Rohe et al., 1996, p. 78).

Constraints to Implementation study by Sadd and Grinc in 1994 concluded that, of all the implementation problems these programs faced, "the most perplexing... was the inability of the police departments to organize and maintain active community involvement in their projects" (p. 442). Hartnett and Skogan suggest that because every community is unique, the implementation problems will likewise be local in nature but there have been some consistent problems reported with implementation across the country that can serve as a guide for future such efforts. According to Trojanowicz and Bucqueroux (1990), community policing initiatives cannot be successful without a concomitant sea change in the way front-line police officers view the profession itself. In this regard, Kenney and McNamara report that a review of the community-policing initiatives to date suggests that two major dimensions of organizational change are involved in the analysis. "These two dimensions represent different domains of change," they say, "namely, externally focused innovations and those which are internally focused" (p. 266). These authors note that the externally focused innovations include efforts targeted at reorienting police operations and crime-prevention activities to improve an organization's influence and improve its relationship within the external environment. These externally focused innovations are also fundamentally different from most such public sphere efforts involving law enforcement because of the nature of the community policing program and its requirement that police officers become more familiar with their assigned communities and make themselves more accessible to the citizenry. For example, Meares (1998) emphasizes that, "The mutual distrust between African-Americans and law enforcement officers makes it less likely that African-Americans will report crimes to the police, assist the police in criminal investigations, and participate in community policing programs that lead to greater social control of neighborhoods" (p. 192). Ironically, it is this very distrust that community policing initiatives are largely designed to address. For example, according to Kenney and McNamara, "Different from the bureaucratic model that emphasizes the separation of police agencies from their external environment, community-policing innovations highlight the interactive role of the police in a complex and changing world" (p. 266).

Some typical examples of externally focused community-policing programs involving the reorientation of operations and prevention include foot patrol programs aimed at direct involvement with the community, special task-force units to address unique local problems, storefront police stations, community crime-prevention newsletters, the assignment of specially trained community-policing officers to schools and neighborhoods, and the deployment of police resources to promote crime prevention among specially targeted subpopulations, such as at-risk youth (Kenney & McNamara, 1999).

By contrast, internally focused innovations primarily involve changes in police management. Central to this argument is that the bureaucratic style neglects the development of employee motivation and suppresses human potential in organizations. In its place, community policing emphasizes cross-level communication and the empowerment of employees in an effort to deliver more valuable public services (Kenney & McNamara, 1999). Some recent studies have confirmed instances of internally focused organizational change. For example, Wycoff and Skogan (1994) undertook a three-year study of community-policing programs in Madison, Wisconsin; this study determined that a participative and decentralized management style increases job satisfaction among community-policing officers. In addition, community-policing administrative innovations that have been directed at changing a police department's paramilitary organizational structure have been demonstrated by recent innovations such as the creation of a master police officer rank, the institutionalization of management styles, and the increased hiring of civilian employees (Kenney & McNamara, 1999).

While these initiatives have been underway, one issue that emerged in this regard is whether these attitudinal and behavioral changes at the police officer level have been supported by requisite structural changes in the police organization as well. According to Davis and Gianakis:

Conventional wisdom in organization theory holds that an organization's structure should be designed to optimize the functioning of its operational technology; it is possible that the '911' emergency response function, though, will continue to drive the structure of the police organization, and the community policing model will be forced to find its place within the hierarchical military model that has traditionally housed this reactive function. The maintenance of a dual proactive/reactive patrol capacity would certainly strain the resources of most agencies" (Davis & Gianakis, p. 485).

In order to successfully implement their community policing programs, then, most researchers maintain that police organizations must adopt some type of "organic" organizational structure and includes a participatory management style, new reward structures, new training programs and selection criteria, and new control systems (Davis & Gianakis, 1998). Skolnick and Fyfe (1995) also identified a decentralized command structure as an essential element of community policing. Similarly, Trojanowicz and Bucqueroux (1990) suggest that community policing involves the formal enrichment or enlargement of the basic job of patrol officer, and increasing the autonomy of the patrol officer also requires the enlargement of citizen participation as oversight to prevent potential abuses. As a result, the community policing model makes a host of demands on the hierarchical, military model, which has been largely closed to public participation. This may be the reason that in 1994, Moore could report that "in practice, no department has yet fully implemented community policing as an overall philosophy" (emphasis added) (p. 290).

In reality, though, in some cases, there is not much time available for implementation. For example, according to Kennedy, Moore, and Sparrow (1990), the LAPD's community policing program was "born of fire"; the "fire" in question being the one that devastated Los Angeles in the violent and enormously destructive Watts riot of 1965. The chief of police at the time, William Parker, was one of the ardent proponents of the California cadre of police reformers, was "first astonished that anything could go so badly wrong and then impotent to do anything about it" (p. 61). As a result of the riots, 31 civilians were left dead, a majority of Watts had been destroyed, and civil order was only restored with the assistance of 14,000 National Guardsmen. In response to these civil outbreaks, the LAPD's subsequent review of its failures identified its lack of ties with the communities it policed as being one of the most glaring issues confronting the department (Kennedy et al., 1990). By contrast, other cities have enjoyed the luxury of implementing their programs in a more informed and incremental manner.

According to Klineberg, Chicago became the home of CAPS (Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy), the most elaborate and extensive community policing program in the United States, and its system has become an international model for city governments interested in reform. "Under the leadership of Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago has made community policing the centerpiece of its effort to bolster neighborhood social ties, streamline city service delivery systems, and coordinate government agencies. Community police officers have become the most visible and accessible faces of the state" (p. 76). The Chicago Police Department's community policing program's motto is, "Together we can"; this phrase has become the mission statement for a city again on the make, a place where, if the may or had his druthers, everyone would be on the beat (Klineberg, 20010).

In their book, On the Beat: Police and Community Problem Solving, Comey, Dubois, Hartnett, Kaiser, Lovig, and Skogan report that in 1993, Chicago's community policing program was introduced in five prototype areas; however, it quickly became apparent that residents as well as the police did not understood what was expected of them. "Beat community meetings were often gripe sessions that left both police and residents frustrated. Residents most often complained about unresponsive 911 dispatchers or slow response times, and the lack of visible police patrols" (p. 99). When these topics were not the focus of discussion, community members simply rose, one after another, to describe individual concerns -- a circumstance that came to be known as a '911 meeting'" (Comey et al., p. 99).

The residents' consensus concerning the nature of the community's problems were much the same as the police department's view; however, the recommended solutions to these common problems were dramatically different according to who was doing the talking. For example, the community's citizens' proposed solution was that police should "do something" about whatever problem was identified; in this regard, one veteran police officer complained: "They [the community residents] think we can arrest them out of every problem.' Residents had no sense of crime patterns or of the concept of chronic problems" (Comey et al., p. 99). Furthermore, local citizens were virtually unaware they were supposed to be part of any community solutions as well as being responsible for identifying problems from the…

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