Community Policing in Canada
Community policing is a relatively new model of service delivery that is employed by the majority of police forces across Canada. Community policing however, is not a “new” approach, it is more correctly a renewal or re-emergence of the old approach developed in Metropolitan London (Leighton & Normandeau, p.21).
The amendments to the current system are evident in Leighton & Normandeau’s (1990) review of the future of community policing. The ideas behind the move to community policing was;
“a vision in which the ultimate consumers of police services, the citizens themselves, have input into the setting of priorities by their local department and play an active role in dealing with crime and other community problems… policing then becomes an interactive endeavour between the police and the community rather than a unilateral activity, p.1).”
The vision for the future of community policing sees the police and community working together. This differs from the more traditional/hierarchical model where the police serve as the law-enforcing authority in the community. Instead we will see the two groups (police & community) as proactive partners. The move to community policing entails major restructuring and changes within the existing hierarchical structure. Duties of line level officers changed from more general duties to a specific area assignment. Community policing gives these officers are given a sense of empowerment and responsibility. To more adequately illustrate the changes that an agency has to undergo in the transition, the specific example of the Edmonton Police Service will be discussed. Griffiths, Whitelaw & Parent conducted a case study of the Edmonton Police Service(EPS) in 1999.
Edmonton Police Service (EPS) decided on the need for a reform as a result of an increase in demands of the department and a decrease in the availability of resources (Griffiths et. al). An eye-opener that called for a serious re-evaluation of the current service became evident in a review of incoming calls, “in 1991, 60,000 calls to the police complaint line were abandoned by citizens prior to being answered. Many of these callers, in an attempt to contact the police, then called the 911 emergency line, tying up this emergency system (Griffiths et al., p.241)”. The re-evaluation of the service, lead to necessary changes and improvements being made, which resulted in the EPS adopting the model of community policing in their area.
The success of implementing a program like this requires that both parties be well informed and well educated on the changes that will take place. One of the first steps is to market the concept of community policing both internally (within the department), as well as externally(within the community). Marketing community policing internally often involves collapsing the existing structures of authority that are in place as well as the...