About Community Policing
One of the more prominent difficulties in Community Policing is educating both the public and law enforcement regarding the meaning of Community Policing. Often, Community Policing is misidentified simply as a community relations effort. Rather, Community Policing is a belief or a philosophy concerning an approach to law enforcement that often employs nontraditional methods of problem solving.
In attempting to define Community Policing as simply as possible, the following basic objectives of Community Policing have been established by the Sheriff's Office:
- Community Policing Deputies must be accessible to and interact with members of the community on a regular basis. Accountability is a cornerstone of this component.
- Community Policing Deputies and members of the community together must identify problems or problem areas in their neighborhoods.
- Community Policing Deputies and members of the community must then form a partnership and together formulate problem solving strategies by utilizing both traditional and non-traditional law enforcement methods.
Community Policing personalizes police service. It involves the citizen in the effort to improve the quality of life and reduce crime in the communities.
Community Policing Deputies attend monthly community meetings where they hear concerns and issues from people. Many of these meetings are homeowners association gatherings or Neighborhood Watch sessions but often are other groups as well. This contact is important in this relationship because law enforcement and the community are often not on the same page. These arrangements go far in clearing one of the first hurdles in building a successful relationship - understanding each other.
Broken Window Theory
Another important element of Community Policing is a firm belief in the "Broken Window Theory." If the little problems aren't taken care of then larger problems will follow.
If an individual notices that a community is in a state of degradation with bad lighting, non-maintained streets and buildings, and broken windows, then they feel that residents there do not care enough for their neighborhood and that the risk of them being caught practicing illegal activity is less.
To the contrary, a well-maintained neighborhood with concerned citizens provides a naturally riskier environment for those engaged in criminal activity.
Community policing means that law enforcement helps to identify these issues and mutually agrees with communities about how to deal with them. Community Policing does not abandon the traditional approach and often takes enforcement action when needed.