Community policing has emerged since the 1970s as an increasingly important strategy for controlling and preventing crime and enhancing community safety. It is both a philosophy and an organizational strategy that allows the police and the community to work closely together in creative ways to solve the problems of crime, drugs, fear of crime, physical and social disorder, neighborhood decay, and the overall quality of life in the community. Community policing is difficult to define. Although it does not have a single definition, there are many elements of community policing.
Champion states there are several definitions to define community policing.
1. “[Community policing is] whenever citizens and police…band…together to fight crime.”
2. “Community policing is a police-community partnership in which the police and the community work hand-in-hand to resolve what the community identifies as ‘problems.’ They [problems] may concern abandoned houses, overgrown lots, zoning ordinances, school issues and other urban problems that are more appropriately in the realm of other agencies.”
3. “Community policing emphasizes the establishment of working partnerships between police and communities to reduce crime and enhance security.”
4. “Community policing [is] a working partnership between police and the law-abiding public to prevent crime, arrest offenders, find solutions to problems and enhance the quality of life.”
5. “[Community policing is] a philosophy rather than a specific tactic…a proactive, decentralized approach designed to reduce crime, disorder and fear of crime by intensely involving the same officer in a community for a long term so that personal links are formed with residents” (Champion 2).
These definitions address the key features of community policing. The common features involve cooperation between police and community residents, willingness to work toward mutual goals, and a general desire to improve community safety through more effective crime control.
Community policing in America can be traced from the colonial times to the 1900s. American policing activities transpired in early England at or about the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066. Chancellors were used to settle disputes between neighbors, such as property boundary issues, trespass allegations, and child misconduct. “An early equivalent of the chancellor, with similar duties and responsibilities, was the justice of the peace, dating to about A.D. 1200. Together with the chancellors or justices of the peace, reeves (now more commonly know as a sheriff) maintained order in their respective jurisdictions (Champion 22). England’s use of policing became well known. Many other regions soon adopted England’s standards. American colonist continued the English system of law enforcement and the study of law. In addition to reeves, constables were used for maintaining law and order in colonial communities. The duties of constables included collecting...