The Evolution of Community Policing and How it May Assist in Crime Detection or Protection
Law enforcement evolution in the United States has been remarkable over the last four decades. Both the evolution of professional model and community policing have made a significant step, which so far has been unstoppable in crime prevention. Training of police officers is today better equipped and innately reflects on the societies they serve. This aspect, coupled with enhanced community policing, has not only assisted in crime detection but also brought down the crime records as more witnesses come forward to assist enforcement officers in the job.
According to Melekian (2011), community policing is the nurtured philosophy in the utilization of community partnership, honing techniques in problem-solving, and the pro-activeness organizational transformation in community policing; where ties are forged between the community and police in order to curb or prevent crime. When community policing was established in 1960s in United States, it was initiated to resolve the citizen-police crisis. The economic downturn in the US had drastic effect on the programs of community policing and social outreach used by law enforcement. The financial resources set for the program were thus in serious jeopardy.
Argument has been advanced that economic challenges have compelled the nation to abandon the program of community policing for the reasons that it is expensive to maintain. However, what is evident is that the society cannot fail to employ programs, which have proven useful. Dealing with budget shortfalls has not been a problem only in the law enforcement department in America but in all sectors. Community policing has over time been tailored so as to enhance problem-solving where crime causes are identified and adequate measures are put in place to curb the relationships resulting to social disorders or crime (Melekian, 2011). Ensuring the programs run has been of paramount importance in contemporary community policing.
As the economy continues to falter in improving and budget funding is unlikely to reach the previous levels of funding, law enforcement will have to continue to find ways in which it can sustain programs such as community policing for police services delivery. The need for continuing the strong partnership between the police and community acts as the multiplier force for the law enforcement agencies to prevent crime and inherently direct the limited resources where needed.
Melekian (2011) states that the office of Community-Oriented Policing Services (COPS) has been playing pivotal role in the last 16 years, in the community policing advancement. Although the mission has remained solely on public safety advancement via community policing, the option has provided many jobs by hiring people as officers in the streets. Through this avenue the local enforcement agencies have maintained and established mutual trust, which has allowed for valuable access to community information leading to resolution and prevention of crimes. Such partnership has been crucial in intelligence exchange, vulnerabilities, and threats identification as well as resources sharing when there are imminent attacks.
However, in the past 2 fiscal years, community policing has been affected greatly with COPS being able to fund hiring of applicants accounting for only 10%. With economic downturn, community policing has seen 90% gap unfunded, which presented a problem in the hiring needs of law enforcement. This has led to COPS Office to formulate 4-year grants for problem solving, rather than offering financial assistance to accommodate for the budgetary gap (Melekian, 2011). These are among the challenges that community policing is facing today as a result of economic challenges although it does much in assisting in crime detection or protection.
Changes have been to grant programs so that the community can address persistent and specific crime and social disorders instead of simply reinforcing staffing in the community policing program. In this aspect, using the grant program to address crime directly plays an important role – thus advancing public safety in community policing. In addition, the law enforcement department has improved the resources in technical assistance and made community policing more accessible, relevant, and widely available, thus confronting the challenges in fighting crime (Melekian, 2011).
Furthermore, community policing has changed to be more transparent, objective, and with the vision of maintaining public safety. Melekian (2011) argues that community plans have been tailored to ensure viability in the law enforcement departments and in the grant applications. It is for this reason that COPS has improved the grants so that the community can assess the policing activities, including training of the community to assist in technical areas, enhancement of community policing for technical assistance, and commitment to developing innovative practices in community policing.
In conclusion, the evolution of community policing has been tremendous with the nurtured objective of reducing neighborhood social disorder and crime while at same time enhancing the community’s quality of life. Community policing has indeed helped the law enforcement in ensuring crime rates go down. Even though community policing is a long-term pledge and requires financial budget to adequately meet clearly set objectives of preventing crime, economic downturn has led to budget cuts, which significantly affects the program staffing as well as other associated resources. COPS has the obligation of ensuring that community policing does not ground to halt because of the relevance in reducing crime. Therefore, the grants given to community policing should be directed to fighting crime other than staffing so as to ensure that grassroots results are finally realized.
Melekian, B. K (2011). Back to the future: Why community policing is more relevant than ever. Sheriff. 63 (4), 52-54.