Community Policing

The current police practice is mainly incident driven, which is aimed at correcting single incidents instead of group of incidents or problems. Problem oriented policing however, is directed at resolving community problems through identifying, analyzing, and responding to the underlying conditions that cause the incidents.

Community policing is described as a philosophy that encourages organizational strategies, which support the systemic applications of collaborations together with problem solving techniques to proactively respond to the immediate situations that result in public safety issues like crime, social disorder, and fear of crime. Community policing is divided into three components which include community partnerships, organizational transformation, and problem solving (Bullock  Tilley, 2003).

Problem oriented policing
This is a policing strategy that involves recognition and scrutiny of specific crimes and disorder problems, with the aim of developing effective response strategies with the continuing assessment. It concentrates more on research and analysis together with crime prevention and the involvement of the public and private groups in the alleviation of community problems. It differs with community policing in that it involves handling problems instead of preventing crime, case or incidents. It deals mainly with the underlying cause of the problem (Trojanowicz, et. al. 1998).

Most law enforcement agencies that use problem oriented policing use a model referred to as SARA. The model is divided into small steps namely scanning, analysis, response, and assessment. The steps are directed at identifying possible causes of the problem being solved. This method of policing uses the community as a resource which helps in identification of the problem. The officers within the community oriented policing interact with the community members in trying to identify the problems and also when arriving at the solution (Bullock,  Tilley, 2003).

At this stage, the problem which is worth looking at is identified because they are crucial and flexible. Problem in this context refers to a group of similar, related, or frequent incidents but not a single incident. The problem should have raised public concern or have affected the police operation. A problem can be nominated to the police through the community on the issue they feel is of concern to them. Information can also be found from the citizens- calls for service which comes to the police department. The idea behind citizens calls for service is that the people will always call the police to alert them on the problems affecting them. The police will in turn analyze the calls and group them into ways leading to a common cause or common solution. The police can also get the information on the problems through consultation with various community groups together with other governmental organizations (Goldstein, 1979).

If the police intend to create partnerships with groups and individuals, they need to create channels through which the groups convey their problems and information such as community advisory councils or frequent meetings organized by the police to which all the community members are invited. This approach enable the community to express their views on what they think should be done, instead of leaving all the decisions to the police. Combined efforts between the police and the community helps in identifying the problem and finding effective solution (Braga, 2002).

At this stage, the police officers analyze the underlying cause of a series of criminal activities, or substantive community concern.  Once the underlying causes of the problem are identified, the police officers develop and implement the right response to the problem. The police officers are compelled to work beyond the analysis, and find times and places where specific crimes are normally committed and also the offenders. Although this approach lead to some success, it normally results in directed patrol operations, or concentration on repeat offenders (Trojanowicz, et. al 1998).

After the problem has been identified and analyzed, law enforcers face the challenge of developing efficient response strategy. The development of the right response is done in accordance with the analysis done previously. The analysis showed the right targets during interventions. In addition, the information on the type of response may also reveal the right lines for analysis (Goldstein, 1979).
The reason for evaluating time and places where crime are rampant is to ensure that the patrolling officers are at the site at the right time during patrols. Potential offenders are always looked for because the most efficient and just response is through arresting and incapacitation. Police needs to put extra effort in carrying out much more search for alternative reactions and not to restrict themselves on patrolling the suspected places or identification and arrest of suspected offenders. The right reaction may involve getting other people apart from the police to involve in actions that lower the opportunity for committing crime or to organize informal social control to send potential offenders away from suspected locations (Eck,  Spelman, 1987).

The last step in problem oriented policing is to evaluate the effects of the intervention on the problem it was intended to solve. Assessment is needed so as to ensure that the police remain responsible for their action and use of resources and also to enable the police gain knowledge on the effective methods in handling various problems. The community and their representatives will always want to know how the resources and the authority they gave to the police were used and the results of the police actions. If the police fail to evaluate the impact of their response on the problem, it will prove impossible to improve their efforts (Braga, 2002).

This model of policing has proved to be useful in controlling various types of crimes and disorder problems such as robberies, prostitutions, and disorderly problems related to alcohol like violence. Although this model has demonstrated its importance in preventing crime and improving police operations, research has also showed that it is not easy for the police officers to implement problem oriented strategies. The major problems which the police officers frequently encounter include shallow analysis and hurry to implement a response, over reliance on outdated responses instead of carrying out wider search to get creative response, and the tendency to ignore assessment of the effectiveness of the responses implemented (Clarke, 1998).

Loopholes in the current problem oriented policing practices are present in all phases of the process. At the stage of scanning, police officers tends to take projects which are either small or too broad which in turn blocks the main problem and leads to lack of specificity at the analysis phase. At the response phase, most tactics applied by the police are outdated such as arrests, surveillance and crackdowns. Assessment or evaluation of the process is mostly ignored, but when carried out, it is usually hasty and restricted to anecdotal or false data. When all these loopholes are evaluated, it can be concluded that the current problem oriented policing is not real but imitation of the original idea.


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