History of Community Policing

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Ibrahim Bamba
Prof: Daniel Simone
Class: PSC 245
THE HISTORY OF COMMUNITY POLICING The movement toward community policing has gained momentum in recent years as police and Community leaders search for more effective ways to promote public safety as well as enhance the quality of life in neighborhoods. The roots of community policing come from the civil rights movement in the 1960s.Even though its origin can be traced to this crisis in police-community relations, its development has been influenced by a wide variety of factors over the course of the past fifty years. The civil rights movement (1960s) widespread riots and protests against racial injustices brought Government attention to sources of racial discrimination and tension, including police.As visible symbols of political authority, the police were exposed to a public criticism. Not only were minorities underrepresented in police department, but studies suggested that the police treated minorities more harshly than white citizens (Walker).In response to this civil unrest, the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice (1967), recommended that the police become more responsive to the challenges of a rapidly changing society.

One of the areas that need the most improvement was the hostile relationship separating the police from minorities, and in particular the police from African-Americans. Team policing tried in the late 1960s and early 1970s, developed from this concern, and was the earliest manifestation of community policing (Rosenbaum).In an attempt to facilitate a closer police community relationship, police operations were restructured according to geographical limit (community beats).In addition, line officers were granted greater decision-making authority to help them be more responsive to neighborhood problems. Team policing was innovative, but opposition from police managers to decentralization severely interfered successful team implementation, and team policing was abandoned. All the attention surrounding the police and the increased availability of government funds for police research produced a great deal of academic interest in the 1970s.Researchers began to examine the role of the police and the effectiveness of traditional police strategies much more closely. In 1974, the Kansas City Patrol Experimented demonstrated that increasing routine preventive patrol and police response time had a very limited impact on reducing crime levels, alleviating citizens’ fear of crime and increasing community satisfaction with police service. Similarly, a study on the criminal investigation process revealed the limitations of routine investigative actions and suggested that the crime-solving ability of the police could be enhanced through programs that fostered greater cooperation between the police and the community (Chaiken, Greenwood, and Petersilia). The idea that a closer partnership between the police and local residents could help reduce crime and disorder began to emerge throughout the 1970s.One of the reasons why this consideration was appealing to police departments was because the recognition that the police and the community were co-producers of police services spread the blame for increasing crime rates (Skogan and Hartnett).An innovative project in San Diego specifically recognized this developing theme by encouraging line officers to identify and solve community problems on their beats (Boydstun and Sherry). It is clear that challenges to the traditional policing model and the assumption that the police Could reduce crime on their own, helped generate interest in policing alternatives. However, it was not until the late 1970s that both researchers and police practitioners began to focus more intently on the specific elements associated with community oriented policing. The major catalyst for this change was...
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