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Defining the “Community” in Community Policing

POLICE EXECUTIVE FORUM

RESEARCH

Defining the “Community” in Community Policing
By Daniel W. Flynn July 1998

This monograph is supported by grant #97-CK-WX-0029 awarded to the Community Policing Consortium by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). Points of view or opinions contained within this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice or the Community Policing Consortium.

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 WHAT IS A COMMUNITY? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 POLICE DEFINITION OF A COMMUNITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 REDEFINING THE COMMUNITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 NON-TRADITIONAL COMMUNITIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 THE MAST PROJECT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 THE TRAP PROJECT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 THE SUPERBOWL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

Defining the “Community” in Community Policing

i

Introduction
hile the precise definition of community policing has been the matter of considerable debate, the fundamental methodology is simple. The police designate a community in which they will engage in problem solving, develop relationships (that hopefully become partnerships) with the population, collaborate with them to diagnose problems that have some generalized impact, prescribe and implement interventions to solve the problems, and continuously monitor the results. Rather than measuring success in traditional terms (numbers of arrests and citations, stolen property recovered and narcotics seized), the police measure success in terms established in collaboration with those most affected by the problems—the stakeholders.

W

The size of the communities in which community policing occurs varies significantly across police jurisdictions. In some cases, the relative size of the police jurisdiction may be small enough, and its service population homogenous enough, to consider the entire jurisdiction one community. The more typical jurisdiction, however, is far more eclectic. It is composed of a collage of various areas or neighborhoods comprising assorted socio-economic groups, ethnic groups and groups of particular types of businesses or industries. Thus, for the purposes of community policing, it becomes necessary to subdivide the jurisdiction into several smaller communities to tailor problem-solving efforts to the communities’ unique problems. Ideally, successes in each of the smaller communities will combine to create a synergistic effect resulting in jurisdiction-wide crime reductions, enhanced public safety and improved public satisfaction with the police. Although the size of a police jurisdiction in which community policing is applied and the number of smaller communities within the jurisdiction are important factors, they are not as essential as the individual community. The individual community is the arena in which community policing is performed as well as the participant, recipient and focal point of the community-policing strategy. Thus, police conceptualization of the composition of each community (i.e., the geography and stakeholders within that geography) is a cornerstone of the ultimate success of the entire...
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