Running head: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE COMMUNITY & POLICE
The Relationship Between The Community & Police
November 30, 2014
Police play an essential role in maintaining peace in society. Yet police officers face multiple job related challenges. Although police officers strive to maintain an ethical, just image, multiple factors may infringe on how the community perceives police officers. The relationship between police officers and the community is complicated. The United States Department of Justice (2010) further concurs in arguing that the community’s relationship with police officers is influenced by multiple variables. The role of the media, crime within the community, national accusations of police misconduct, the history of policing in the community and the actions taken by the police department to promote a positive image are all factors that can positively or adversely affect how the community perceives police officers (Baker & Hyde, 2011; Wooden & Rogers, 2014). Furthermore, the time, police departments take to establish and maintain positive community relations is another attribute that affects the relationship between police officers and the community (United States Department of Justice, 2010). The role of the community’s relationship with police officers will be explored in order to determine what factors positively influence or hinder the relationship between police officers and the community. The Importance of Police/Community Relations
The importance of police departments maintaining a positive relationship with the community has been well established (Jones & Supinksi, 2010). According to the United States Department of Justice (2010) a positive relationship between the police and the community they serve is an essential element in solving problems within the community. Wooden & Rogers (2014) further concur in arguing “community policing, ‘seeks to form partnerships with the community to identify and arrest offenders, prevent crime and disorders, recognize and solve problems, and foster and maintain mutual respect and trust’” (p. 186). Police officers that work in conjunction with the community and respect residents often find that people are inclined to report information that could lead to an arrest in a case (Baker & Hyde, 2011). In contrast, communities that have strained relationships with police officers may be more likely to withhold information, due to the lack of trust ascribed to police officers (Weitzer, Tuch & Skogan, 2008). Yet, communities that fail to provide information to police often have more unsolved crimes. As a result, these communities are often perceived as less safe than communities that have a positive relationship with police officers. The Role of the Media in Influencing the Police’s Relationship With the Community
The media plays a vital role in influencing how communities perceive police officers. The United States Department of Justice (2010) expands on the role of the media in influencing the community’s relationship with police officers in stating, “everyday, tens of thousands of law enforcement personnel throughout the United States perform honorable and conscientious police work, but irreparable damage may be done to the entire profession from even one story of police misconduct” (p. 5). Chermak, McGarrell & Gruenewald (2006) further sought to explore how reading or watching a story in the news affect the community’s perception of police officers. The results determined that the more exposure the story had the more likely people were to have seen it multiple times. In relating this to the results, the researchers concluded that the more frequently community members saw the news story, the more likely they were to believe that the police officer had abused his powers. The results of this study are problematic, as police departments work hard to establish positive...
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