Community Policing Effective Yes or Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

m. Those kinds of things, and that kind of knowledge, is what makes community policing work so well for the citizens of the neighborhoods that are protected and the officers that watch over the people while they sleep.

Some of the efficiency tricks they learn from other officers who have worked that neighborhood before them; some they learn by trial and error and a little bit of exploration; some they may even learn by talking to the residents in the community. One may mention a shortcut, an abandoned house that is a drug lord's hideout, or almost anything else that is important for the efficient running of a community policing operation. The citizens of a neighborhood can be a very valuable source of information for many policemen who are trying to make the streets safer, but only if there is trust between the two groups. If there is no trust between the officer and the citizens, the officer is not going to find out anything from the neighborhood citizens that he cannot find out on his own.

Another point that needs to be made about the strengths of community policing is that it increases the satisfaction that citizens have with the police in their neighborhood (Manning, 1998). Police satisfaction is very important to citizens, and it is also very important to the police, because greater satisfaction with the police department means fewer complaints that have to be dealt with, fewer hassles for police chiefs and others in power who have to make some tough decisions sometimes, and fewer problems for policemen out on the street who do not like to be hassled by citizens who are unhappy about something that another policeman might have done last week or last year in that same neighborhood.

Satisfaction with the police department also goes up when neighbors know that the same policemen are going to be around the neighborhood all of the time, especially if those policemen are well liked by most of the members of the community. To be well liked, policemen have to be lighthearted enough to put up with a little bit of silliness and mischief, but smart enough to know when there is real criminal activity going on that might be masked by something else. Sometimes the antics of one person are not meant to be just fun, but they are meant to distract an officer from doing his or her job while the real crimes are committed somewhere else by someone with a poor sense of humor. The police officers need keen senses for what is going on in a particular neighborhood, and spending a lot of time there on a regular basis is a good way to develop them. They get to have a more enjoyable time at work, and neighborhood residents get to feel safer because they know that the police are out there on the streets doing their job. When community policing is really working properly, everybody wins.

Costs can also be reduced by having a community policing program (Manning, 1998). When police are already in the area, it costs less for them to investigate a crime or stop a crime in progress because they do not have to be sent across town to take care of something. They can take care of whatever problems are appearing right there in the neighborhood and let the other policemen working in other neighborhoods handle the problems that arise there. Occasionally they might be sent somewhere else to back someone up or help out if something major goes on, but mostly they will spend their time in their own corner of the world, keeping costs and crime down.

The crime rate, and consequently the rate of violent crime, usually goes down in an area that has community policing because criminals know that police are nearby (Manning, 1998). When they are aware that police are in the neighborhood, there is an increased likelihood of getting caught in the act if they commit a crime, so they tend to go somewhere else to attempt their unsavory activities. When community policing is all over a given city, then the crime rate will go down drastically because there is nowhere for the criminals to go that they feel they can get away with their crimes. That is not to say that community policing totally stops crime. Almost nothing could do that, but having the crime rate go down is a sufficient reason for community policing to be practiced by all law enforcement agencies. While there are still many who think that community policing is just so much garbage that departments are putting out in an effort to seem more sincere and concerned about citizens, there are many reasons why community policing is good for everyone involved.

III. Presentation of Position "B"

Many of the neighborhoods that are going to community policing ideas are neighborhoods where a large group of minorities live. While not a prejudiced comment in any way, statistics tell society that the crime rate is higher in neighborhoods that have a larger population of black residents or Latino residents, as opposed to white residents. That emphatically does not mean that white people do not commit crimes, or that all minority people are problematic and their neighborhoods are bad places to be.

Nevertheless, one of the goals of community policing is to better the relationship between police and minority neighborhoods. Some scholars do not think that community policing will help this relationship at all. Instead, they contend that it will make it even worse. It has been argued that aggressive community policing of minority neighborhoods is actually racism. The reason for this is because the minority citizens are singled out for being at higher risk of criminal behavior (Roberts, 1999).

While it is still true that minority neighborhoods are at higher risk, racism is a pretty strong claim against the police departments around the country. They have already been accused of treating blacks unfairly in instances such as the beating of Rodney King. Much more on the racism issue is only going to make police officers angry at the minority citizens that they are trying to protect, which could, unfortunately, lead to real instances of racism, instead of the imagined ones that are occurring now.

There is already a lot of distrust of the police force, especially in black neighborhoods. Since a higher portion of young black males get arrested in proportion to crime rates for other races and age groups, that only makes sense. It probably seems to the black people in this country that the police are always coming into their neighborhoods and taking one of theirs instead of taking some rich white man's son. In truth, many of the police officers are only doing their jobs.

Whoever does the crime is the one that must pay for it, and if the black communities are not happy with it always being one of their people, perhaps the police should challenge them to do something about it. When black people say that they do not want police in their neighborhoods, they are effectively saying that they will deal with the problems that they have by themselves. That would be a wonderful idea if they would actually deal with them, but it they do not do anything and the police do not do anything the problem will just get worse until the police are forced to intervene on behalf of some victim. When that happens then they will become the 'bad guys' all over again.

Really, the police are often not as effective in stopping crime as the other citizens in a neighborhood, especially in close-knit neighborhoods like many in the black community. If the neighborhoods would do their part in stopping crimes the police could spend less time patrolling in their neighborhoods. That way both groups would get what they wanted. Crime would come down, which would make the police happy, and the police would spend less time in the neighborhoods, which would make the citizens happy.

Right now, there are not many community policing programs that are very effective in dealing with minorities for the reasons mentioned above. If the distrust and suspicion could be removed from the equation then the citizens and police could likely find a way to work together and much more would be accomplished.

One suggestion to help improve race relations between minorities and police officers is to promote minorities within the police force. It only makes sense that black people will be suspicious of the white police officers. They will likely be less suspicious of a black police officer. While the general distrust of the police still remains, there will not be as many strikes against an officer that is the same race as the citizens of the neighborhood. This could greatly improve minority relations with very little effort, since…

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