Community Policing & Volunteering

Young Painter Cleans Up GraffitiCommunity Oriented Policing is a policing philosophy that promotes and supports organizational strategies to address the root causes of crime and reduce the fear of crime through problem-solving tactics and community-police partnerships. Community Policing brings police and citizens together to prevent crime and solve neighborhood problems. With Community Policing, the emphasis is on stopping crime before it happens, rather than responding to calls for service after the crime has occurred.

Community Policing gives citizens more control over the quality of life in their community. Community Policing means police officers become part of the neighborhood. This helps officers get a better sense of residents' needs and helps residents develop a greater trust in the police. In essence, the community joins the police department. In partnership, the community and police department work together to achieve a common goal of a safer, better place to live and raise a family.

Recognition

Community Policing recognizes that the whole community is responsible for public safety - not just the police. It rests on the belief that the police must become partners with the people in the community so that together they can address local priorities related to crime, fear of crime, and social disorder. Police officers must become more involved with and aware of the characteristics and nuances of the communities they are policing. Police officers are encouraged to get to know the people in their community, listen to their concerns and get them involved in problem-solving efforts. Enforcement tactics are not eliminated; rather, the selection of tools officers have to do their job is greatly expanded.

Community Policing requires shared ownership, decision making, and accountability, as well as sustained commitment from both the police and the community. It shifts the focus of police work from responding to individual incidents to addressing problems identified by the community as well as the police, emphasizing the use of problem solving approaches to supplement traditional law enforcement methods. The community must accept and share responsibility with the police for social order, and both must work cooperatively to identify problems and develop proactive community-wide solutions.

It is important to stress that Community Policing is still law enforcement. It is not soft on crime - in fact, it is tougher on crime than traditional policing because it provides a more comprehensive, creative approach. Consulting with the community focuses police activities more effectively; with community involvement, officers receive more information and are able to respond more effectively, with both arrests and other appropriate actions.

On The Beat, Community Policing acknowledges the importance of trusting officers and encourages them to move out of their patrol cars and into the community. Community Policing values talking with residents, business owners, children, and anyone officers encounter in the course of their work - just as much as it values making arrests or writing tickets. Putting cops back "on the beat" is the cornerstone of Community Policing. It makes for safer streets and improves the quality of life. Within his or her area (beat), a police officer works to:

  • Get to know people. Community Policing means officers get out of their patrol cars and onto the street. The police officer forms relationships with residents and businesspersons. He or she learns about people's concerns and helps build trust between citizens and police.
  • Help solve neighborhood problems. Police officers do more than respond to crime. They also look for ways to prevent crime and improve the quality of life.
  • Put people in touch with other community service agencies. These may include agencies that can help with problems such as drug and alcohol abuse, violence in the home, or child abuse.

Police officers enjoy many rewards from Community Policing, including:

  • Greater independence.
  • The opportunity to be creative. There aren't always rules and regulations for solving various problems officers may encounter. They are often called upon to use their imagination to find new or unique solutions to old problems.
  • Help with solving and preventing crime. Forming partnerships with community members is a great advantage to police officers. Residents often have information that can help police identify problems and, when necessary, make arrests.