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Community Policing is a law enforcement philosophy which serves as an effective solution to the rising crime rate. It is often considered as a deviation from the traditional methods of crime fighting where the law enforcement officers take the initiative to get down from their pedestal and become an important member of the community. It is defined by the US Justice Department's Community Oriented PolicingServices (COPS) as “any policing aimed more at crime prevention than on chasing and catching bad guys; those tactics can include working with the community, decentralizing command, or simply increasing the number of beat police officers in a community.” (Policing)
Strategies to Implement the Community Oriented Policing
Implementing Community-Oriented Policing, however, is not an easy task. It requires several different factors to be in place first before the Community-Oriented Policing may be implemented as a part of the strategic goals of the police department. Since it changes the overall-philosophy and even the organizational structure of the police department it is essential that the every member of the police department from the patrol officer to the chief of police should be sold to the idea of a change in the police department. It must be stressed that change is not easy to deal with especially on the part of the police officers who may have been performing the same kind of tasks for decades.
Resistance to change is something that the consultant will have to incorporate in his strategy. However, the only way to fight the resistance among members of the police department is to display the right leadership. Change will not start from the bottom of the organizational structure. Change will start from the local chief executive who should be able to convince every member of the police department that the Community-Oriented Policing will work for the best of every member of the organization and even the public that they are serving.
Moreover, resistance may also come from the local communities whom the police are serving. Lack of trust, indifference and apathy had always been used to describe the relationship between the people and the police (“Community Oriented Policing: Jersey Village Police”, p.1). This is mainly because of the failure of the police organization to put a stop to crime or to involvement of some erring police officers in crime. It will take some time before the police organization may be able to re-establish trust and create a meaningful relationship with the public. However, once this trust is re-established, it will create a strong foundation that will help make the community-oriented policing more effective.
The Pontiac Police Department has started to realize the benefits of active community involvement in the Community Oriented Policing in terms of modifying the conditions within the community that encourages criminal behavior. It enhances the opportunity by which the community is able to fight crime or reduce the opportunity for crime to take place.
The consultant will also have to find a way so that every member of the police department will be committed to the new approach. It must be stressed that community-oriented policing is not just one program of the police department. Rather, the community-oriented policing requires a change in the attitude and mind-set among the police officers.
It is also a reality that some of the local police force does not have the sufficient number of personnel, equipment and fund necessary to effectively implement the community-oriented policing. Porterville Police Department is one such police department which has one of the smallest units in Tulare County, California. For this reason, it is essential for the local chief of police to be able to sell the community-oriented policing to the mayor and the legislative representatives. It is therefore very essential that the local chief of police to be able to seek assistance from individuals who have the power to grant them the needed funding. When the local chief of police has convinced these individuals then mobilization of resources will be a lot easier for the members of the police force. For instance, mobilization of resource is essential also for training the members of the local police, the acquisition of technologies that can be use for crime prevention, and the establishment of programs to improve relationship between the community and the police (“Community Oriented Policing Services: Background, Legislation and Issues”, 2008, p.2).
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Non-government agencies and organizations can also serve as a vital component in the Community-Oriented Policing. These agencies and organizations do not only have the manpower but they also have an existing organization that can help the police department to disseminate various information. Moreover, since the members of the police force are more focused on problem solving the public start to call the police even for non-police related events (“Community-Oriented Policing,” p.1). For instance, fire emergencies are better handled by the members of the fire personnel.
The first step in the implementation of a Community-Oriented Policing is to make a plan of how the Community-Oriented Policing will be implemented. One of the components of the Planning is the identification of tasks and the timelines which the members of the police department will need to meet. Planning also involves making an analysis of the Porterville Police Department to determine the extent of change that will have to be made. Current operational procedures and management practices of the chief of police will have to be studied to determine whether the police department already embraces the concept of community-oriented policing. It must be stressed that if the organization is ripe for change then introducing the Community Oriented Policing will be a lot easier. If, however, the organization is still not ripe for change then the members of the local police force may have difficult time adjusting to the new concept.
Currently, though the concept of Community-Oriented Policing is new among the members of the Porterville Police Department, partnerships with the community in crime solving is already common. In fact, the police department has already enlisted the participation of several individuals in the community to help them address the problem of crime.
The second step is to ensure that the communication lines are open from top to bottom. The chief of police should ensure that he is able to effectively communicate to all the police officers what the community-oriented policing is all bout. It must be stressed that until now many think that community policing is about police officers engaged on foot patrol most of the time. Until now they do not appreciate that community policing is much more than going on foot patrol. Rather, the local chief of police must be able to explain what it is about and what their new role would be under this system.
Communication is an important part of the implementation since it is only through regular communication that the members of the police department are able to fully understand and appreciate the concept. It is also one strategy to decrease resistance and opposition from those who are not convinced about its benefits.
The third step is the constant monitoring of the manner the community-oriented policing is being implemented. Feedback gathering from both inside and outside the police department is indispensable. Adjustments will have to be made along the way to make sure that the changes being implemented by the local chief of police is taking place. If the members of the police department feels that it is not being properly implemented that the whole system should be reviewed. The same is true for the community which the police department is serving. If the community feels that the new system is not working then efforts should be made so that changes will be made.
The introduction of Community-Oriented Policing may not be easy. However, its benefits suffice to override the difficulties that the Porterville Police Department may encounter. It does not only help in the crime prevention efforts of the local police department but it also helps in bringing the police closer to the people whom it serves. It also maximizes the meager resources that are available to the police.
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