Community policing is a concept and approach which recognizes that law enforcement alone cannot solve the root causes of crime. Law enforcement agencies are not staffed, trained nor equipped with all of the tools necessary to address the underlying factors that contribute to crime and disorder. A collaborative approach, enlisting the input and participation of public and private stakeholders will provide the greatest resources in the comprehensive effort to address the underlying factors contributing to crime.
The law enforcement profession was born out of the need to protect people and property. Historically, law enforcement officers were responsible for apprehending criminals and separating them from society. Job qualifications entailed bravery and physical toughness. Early trainings consisted of a basic overview of available communication devices and the booking process.
Times have changed; crime has evolved into a multifaceted issue with deep seeded roots. Today, law enforcement officers have additional responsibilities with greater expectations. It is no longer just about bravery, but about the ability to make complex, legal decisions in the midst of danger and chaos. Officers are now required to complete many hours of training regarding detention, arrest, search and seizure, emergency vehicle operations and defensive tactics. Officers are trained to investigate incidents involving domestic violence, sex offenses and crimes against children.
The communities, in which we live, work and raise our children demand the safest environment possible. A common approach to crime fighting is to respond after the event and incarcerate the offender. The results of this approach have been increasingly burdensome on law enforcement, the judicial system, corrections and society. The successful application of this process has had little effect on the environment wherein crime began and has been an increasing strain on the finances of local, state and federal budgets. It could be said that the strategy of reactive patrol has contributed to the decay of neighborhoods.
Preventative and collaborative measures, as described in the community policing model, are necessary to facilitate change. Although law enforcement officers are doing their jobs to the best of their ability, the time has come when another layer of support is a necessity. To be successful in the reduction of crime, law enforcement agencies need to enlist the resources of the community. Together this partnership can provide the comprehensive approach defined by the community policing model. A 2003 Department of Justice survey revealed 58% of all law enforcement agencies used full time community policing officers (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2012).
To implement this strategy, law enforcement must identify the needs of the community and the availability of resources. Law enforcement administrators must partner with local medical, social and mental health professionals and develop...