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Community-oriented policing is a concept that directs law enforcement agencies to be able to collaborate with the community in crime prevention, problem-solving, and relationship formation. The pattern in policing is primarily focused on providing community-based resources such as addressing challenges, designing, and introducing solutions. The police have the responsibility of maintaining an atmosphere in which members of the group want to work with them.
Because neighborhood-oriented policing has been practiced for many years, the presence of a police officer in the city is not unusual. People have questioned whether it is necessary to have a police officer walk around the community. Then, it gives a reason why one should consider the cons and pros of COP before making a judgment on the issue.
Community policing brings about unity in the community. The policing involves the cooperation between the members of the community and police, therefore bringing the two closer. The unity between the two parties involved creates a strong community.
Community-oriented policing prevents crimes. Since police go around the community, while the members of the community remain vigilant, many crimes are deterred (Abraham et al., 2013). Criminals will not do their dirty work most importantly when they are aware of being watched.
COP helps the community understand their role in making the society a better place to live. Police officers easily interact with the community, since they can be easily approached and citizens feel safer in such an environment. Through the interaction of the police and the citizens, the community discovers its role in preventing and reporting of crimes.
Community policing promotes a sense of commitment to the members of the society. Due to the roles people play in the process of policing, it creates a sense of responsibility and stronger attachment to the community.
Community policing can at times lead to a power struggle (Abraham et al., 2013). All people are not the same but reasonable. Subsequently, some people might engage in community policing not for the right reasons. COP might encourage people to struggle for the power so that they can be able to achieve personal gains.
Community policing is not embraced by all people. Those who pose against it argue that it is unnecessary for the police to be present in the community. According to them, it is like looking for someone who has not yet committed anything unlawful hence rendering the practice unconstitutional.
Community-oriented policing has been successfully practiced and succeeded in different parts of the United States. The Phoenix police department took steps to make the community a safer place. The first step which was implemented by the department was education juveniles to prevent violence among the youth. The second step was the provision of education to the community on how to avoid juvenile crimes. The department also ensured that there was enforcement of juvenile crimes. Finally, another component of the community policing executed by the department was evaluation and mitigation of any threats in schools (US Department of Justice, 2016). The aftermath of the program was beneficial as it brought the community together and improved the relationship between the Phoenix police department and members of the community.
Another successful example of COP is Synchronized Multi-Agency Safe Housing (S.M.A.S.H) implemented in the city of Hayward in California (US Department of Justice, 2015). The program ensured property in the city was safe from criminals and other calamities. It was achieved through ensuring that after each problem strategies were developed to make sure that the same problem did not occur later. The plans were formulated in a meeting between the police, fire department and the code enforcement (US Department of Justice, 2016). The results of the program have been so beneficial with criminals being taken out of the streets and problematic landlords or tenants banned.
Problem-oriented policing involves developing a strategy to prevent a problem from reoccurring. It is achieved through looking into the causes of a problem hence developing deterrent strategies to prevent a repeat of the same. According to the developer of the idea, Professor Herman Goldstein, the police should be able to identify problems and come up with the appropriate responses to deal with them.
Advantages. Problem-oriented policing is beneficial since it brings about decentralization. POP enables the police who are in the field and understand the nature of the problems to make decisions which can lead to necessary solutions (Bullock et al., 2006). Vital decisions are made by people who understand the problems instead by managers who just sit in the office.
POP is also crucial, as it enhances the status of officers in the neighbourhood. Its application demonstrates the important role played by the police who are likely to raise their status in the force.
Problem-oriented policing supports the importance of intelligence to police work. POP reveals that it is important to gather and analyze information in appropriately responding to crime. It is essential as it helps eliminate the occurrence of the same problems in the future rather than focusing on the past.
Disadvantages. The data collected and analyzed may not reflect the truth of the matter at times. It is because the data is community-based and therefore may be biased depending on to who it is of much importance (Bullock et al., 2006). For instance, in the case of dealing with gangs who may also be members of the community, it is the role of the parents to make sure that they discipline their children to avoid the same problems in the future.
Problem-oriented policing is limited to petty crimes such as theft while ignoring the major ones. Since it focuses on the minor crimes, it may not significantly benefit the community, there are serious crimes which need attention. Therefore, police later resort to addressing the problem by enforcement.
Problem-oriented policing has been successfully applied in the city of San Diego. A place named the Trolley Station had been for years a criminal zone where fights and drug peddling was done (Murat, 2016). Through the information which was collected by a squad of officers demonstrated that the way the station was built was a contributing factor to the crimes. Due to the convincing work done by the officers, the board agreed to redesign the station and crime became the history.
On another case in the same city, police applied problem-oriented policing to solve narcotic activities which were going on in an 80-unit apartment complex. POP proved vital as the police working together with the residents and housing management were able to end the drug dealing.
Police departments face some challenges while trying to implement both community and problem-oriented policing. One of the major problems faced by the police is lack of understanding of principles of both community and problem-oriented policing (Abraham et al., 2013). In the process of police training, there runs out of major focus on COP and POP. Training in these areas can help overcome negative attitude by the police in implementing these policing strategies.
Implementation of the policing trends also faces the setback of inadequate resources to execute the policing patterns perfectly (Murat, 2016). A small number of police officers are available at executing these policing strategies, while the rest are assigned other duties considered as the real police work. The facilities which are at the disposal of these officers as the rest of resources are allocated to police response and other roles.
Another challenge faced by police departments while trying to implement both community and problem-oriented policing is lack of sensitization in the community (Bullock et al., 2006). Most members of the community lack Intel on the importance of both COP and POP. Due to the reason, some members might not be willing to cooperate with the police to ensure successful implementation of the COP and POP policing trends.
Abraham, M., Das, D.K., & Verma, A. (2013). Global community policing: Problems and challenges. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Bullock, K., Erol, R., & Tilley, N. (2006). Problem-oriented policing and partnerships. Cullompton, UK: Willan.
Murat, O. (2016). A paradigm shift in policing: Crime reduction through problem oriented policing. International Journal of Human Sciences, 13(1), 2032-2039. doi:10.14687/ijhs.v13i1.3764
US Department of Justice (2015). Successful practices and strategies: City of Hayward. Retrieved from https://cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/CPOS/ss/2.04_SPS_Hayward_final.pdf
US Department of Justice (2016). Successful practices and strategies: Phoenix police department. Retrieved from https://cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/CPOS/ss/3_5_SPS_Phoenix_FINAL_508.pdf
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