Revisiting Concept and Theories of Community Policing

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    Baku, Azerbaijan| 51   INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL of ACADEMIC RESEARCH Vol. 4. No. 4. July, 2012  A. Yero, J. Othman, B. Abu Samah, Jeffrey L. D’Silva, A.H. Sulaiman. Re-visiting concept and theories of community policing. International Journal of Academic Research Part B; 2012; 4(4), 51-55. DOI:  10.7813/2075-4124.2012/4-4/B.7    RE-VISITING CONCEPT AND THEORIES OF COMMUNITY POLICING  Aliyu Yero 1 , Jamilah Othman 2 , Bahaman Abu Samah 2 , Jeffrey Lawrence D’Silva 2 , Abdul Hadi Sulaiman 2 1 Department of Political Science, Kaduna State University, 2 Laboratory of Youth Citizenship and Leadership, Institute for Social Science Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia (MALAYSIA) DOI:  10.7813/2075-4124.2012/4-4/B.7 ABSTRACT The challenges of conceptualization have remained ever persistent especially in the social sciences where different people are bound to conceive concepts differently. A closer look at the implementation efforts on community policing brings this to glare the differences in understanding of what it constitutes. This may not be a minus because societal needs and priorities are not the same, nevertheless, it is pertinent not to forget the true concept of community policing and its theoretical base. The main objective of this paper is to re-visit the concept and theory of community policing so that as implementation efforts are ongoing a certain trend of uniformity can be sustained. Basically, this paper utilized existing literatures on the concept and theory of community policing in seeking and understanding about community policing. The paper identified differences in definition among scholars and also certain principles which are found in almost all models of implementation over time across borders, in which considerable progress have been achieved by adopting them and if followed will offer a coherent approach towards successful community policing. In conclusion, the paper observed that if really community policing is to be advanced, then a proper understanding of what it constitutes in principle most be comprehended by the police, citizens and leadership in general. Key words:  Community policing, society, development, cooperation 1. INTRODUCTION The concept of community policing is slowly but gradually assuming a multidimensional as well as a multifaceted idea, especially in practice. Yet, the philosophy remains singular all through from the mid 70’s when the drive began to trickle down. Ever since, multitudes of literature have piled up all in an attempt to define, explain and theorize community policing. However, since the advent of community policing, there is actually no universally accepted definition (Erhan and Bahadir, 2011). Meanwhile, law enforcement has been quietly revolutionized assuming a great source of debate as to the exact nature and scope it possess (James, 2002).However, there is a consensus among the academia, police institutions and governments as to the viability of moving towards a community oriented policing in an attempt to reduce citizen fear and overall attainment of the quality of life, or safe city in other instances. Human societies are so much distinct and unique to each other. Therefore to assume that there can be a distinct method of application of community policing model is being generalist, considering that every society revolves around certain tendencies that shape and determine the navigation routes or rather “endogenous and exogenous” factors shaping its existence (Oliver, 2000). This necessitates the variance in the mode of implementation. It is the intention of this paper to revisit some of the efforts towards conceptualization and theorization of community policing so that as efforts are geared towards implementation, the core of community policing is not for-gotten. In particular, the paper will look specifically at the theoretical bases of community policing that will enlighten both policy makers and practitioners in the field. 2. RE-VISITING THE CONCEPT OF COMMUNITY POLICING The concept of community policing have been defined by many scholars and practitioners in various ways. These definitions have assumed categorical styles in order to avoid the risk of generalization. Among these conceptual definitions are the institutional. According to the Office of Community Oriented Policing Service (2007), crime and social disorder is the focus of community policing. This is achieved through service delivery which includes aspects of regular law enforcement, prevention, problem solving, as well as community engagement and partnership. Community policing model try to strike a balance between reactive responses with proactive-problem solving specifically on the causes of crime and disorder, community policing is essentially about partnership between the police and the citizens. Philosophically, community policing represents a drive which aspires to establish partnership between the people and the police in addressing contemporary challenges to security such as social and physical disorder, crime and fear towards achieving overall quality of life (Trojanowicz and Bucqueroux, 1998)    52 | PART B . SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES   INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL of ACADEMIC RESEARCH Vol. 4. No. 4. July, 2012 In application however, visibility and acting become the operational role of the police officer who tries to ensure that disorder and crime are managed properly. On the part of the community information, support and feedback are required and police should respond to all concerns (Manning, 2003).  At every attempt to define community policing therefore one will be inclined to know from which angle the concept is being approached, this can offer a credible insight as to what actually represents the view point of the author. Nevertheless, having a single definition of community policing remains a fleeting illusion. Tilley (2008) in his contribution to community policing observed that the importance of policing has to do with the people and for the community rather than policing of the community, it aspires to improve the quality of life, aiming to solve community problems alongside the community and by the community. Beyond this, it has proven difficult to pin down what specifically is involved in implementing community policing. On this point, there exist broad agreement among scholars and many police officers (Tilley, 2008). Tilley’s (2008) definition is rather philosophical and smart at the same time in expressing what community policing represents. Stipak (1994) in his contribution also defined community policing as a management strategy which aims to promote joint responsibility of community members and police for the purpose of safety. In other words, community policing is about police-citizen partnership. Generally speaking, Skolmick and Bayley (1988) concluded that by viewing community policing around the world, it was identified that commonality can be attributed in approach to community policing. These common attributes are: (a) a growing shift to “community-based crime prevention” all over the world through the use of citizen education, neighbourhood watch and similar techniques, as opposed to relying on police patrol to prevent crime, (b) a change in direction from emergency response (chasing calls) to a proactive strategy such as foot patrol, (c) increase accountability by the police towards the citizen and community at large.  Apart from that, Brown (1989) also came up with similar components. (a) a result oriented and problem-solving approach to law enforcement, (b) incorporation of citizenship in the articulation of police values, (c) responsible policing to each neighbourhood, (d) power sharing between the communities and policing, (e) beat boundaries that correspond to neighbourhood boundaries, (f) permanent assignment of patrol officers, (g) empowerment of police to show initiative, (h) coordination of investigation at both neighbourhood and city wide level, (i) new roles for supervision and managers as supporters of patrol not just evaluators, (j) modification of training content at all levels, (k) new system of performance valuation, and (l) new approaches to “demand management”. The Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice (1994) observed that community policing embodies two major components which include community pattnership and problem solving. Problem solving in this context involve diagnosing effective and applicable antidote to glaring community ills. The involvement of the local authorities, schools, churches/mosques, social agencies and buisness groups in crime prevention pattnership with the police becomes necessary for the success of community policing. This does not mean taking away the power of the police but rather a relief to some of the most difficult challenges of security the police have been battling with. Community patnership in essence most begin with proper communication which facilitates the building of trust between the people and the police, making the use of force unnecessary and useless In the final analysis on the concept of community policing, Allendar (2004) stated that community policing represents a philosophy of full time service, personalized policing in which a particular police officer patrols and work in an area on a permanent basis from a decentralized place, working in a proactive partnership with citizens to identify and solve problems. 3. THEORIZING COMMUNITY POLICING Community policing has always been premised on theoretical construct, a number of theories have been advanced by scholars in an attempt to offer explanation in principle, and pave the way for a point of reference in academic discussion as well as a point of departure towards implementation initiatives of community policing. One theory used to explain the philosophical bases of community policing is the Normative Sponsorship Theory by Tiedke, et. al   (1975). The theory posits that a significant number of people have goodwill and that cooperation becomes a necessary factor towards building a harmonious community. It postulates that a community programme will be supported only if it is “within the limit of established standard” to all people (Trojanowicz and Dixon, 1974). Simply put, the police cannot achieve any positive transformation without the support of the public.  Another theory advanced specifically to explain community policing is by Wilson and Kellings; Broken Windows theory, based on this theory social psychologist and police officers tend to agree that if a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired; all the rest of the windows will soon be broken, the sign of one broken and unrepaired window send an indication that nobody cares so another window can also be broken and nothing will happen (Oliver, 2000)  According to Pollard in Braton et.al   (1998), Kellings and Wilson’s preposition is that the moment deliberate discourtesy such as drunkenness, begging, vandalism, disorderly behaviour, graffiti, litter are not controlled, an atmosphere is created in which more serious crimes will be committed. Till today, any discussion on community policing always go hand in hand with the broken windows theory (Allender, 2004). However, this does not signify that the broken windows theory represents the only framework for understanding community policing. From a radically different dimension, Wong (2008) offered a different view point called the Social Resource theory that attempts to address three main prepositions, (a) what is the role and function of the police? (b) what is the relationship of the police with the people, and (c) why do people call the police? The social resource theory re-conceived the idea of crime and policing from the angle of the people and not that of the state. From the people’s viewpoint, crime is a personal problem resulting from people’s unmet    Baku, Azerbaijan| 53   INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL of ACADEMIC RESEARCH Vol. 4. No. 4. July, 2012 expectation, scarcity of resources and police inefficiency. The police in effect are social resources which are supposed to solve the problems of the people. The ultimate purpose of community policing is to ensure better, responsive and responsible efficient and effective police service. The theory is of the people, for the people and by the people, a theory of democratic governance, empowerment, and a theory of self-help (Wong, 2008). The social resource theory begins from observing that crime represents illegality but only from the state point of view. However, for the people crime represents one of the experiences of life, the theory represents a radical shift in theorizing community policing because it completely gave people the power in effect and made the police influence a social resource, made visible by the state by choosing within the citizens to address societal ills (Wong 2008). 4. CHALLENGES Taylor (1998) identified five major challenges community policing is facing (a) insufficient holistic researches, most evaluations are carried out on specific programmes, (b) general implementation especially by city government, (c) problem of full implementation by, most of what constitute community police remains in paper, (d) involvement of politics, protecting community policing from criticism, and (e) difficulty in determining the intricate relationship between community policing and crime. Even though crime rates seem to be falling other factors may have great influence such as increasing aging population, especially in Europe. It is possible community policing is claiming success for what it is not responsible for. The above challenges identified by Taylor (1998) still remain valid today even though the extent to which it can be contested remains a debating issue till date. One challenge facing community policing today is that of conceptualization. There exist in literature various definitions but most important is where we can point out the demarcating line between community policing and community oriented policing, are the two concepts the same or different? In some instances the two concepts seem to be used interchangeably having the same characteristics. Some scholars seem to take the two concepts meaning different things. On one hand community policing mean a police oriented affair having to deal with how officers will adopt new strategies by collaborating with the community in preventing crime and promoting the sense of security, while community oriented policing mean a community based approach and initiative by the people towards crime control and prevention in an attempt to compliment the effort of the police as well as work in partnership for the betterment of the community. Therefore community policing starts from the police organization and moves toward the community there by seeking partnership in crime control and prevention while community oriented policing starts from the people in the community and moves towards partnership with the police. Hills (2011) also identified another source of challenge to community policing which is “policing a plural society where inter communal conflict as well as inter religious conflict flourish”. In a situation where crime and criminality is rampant and the community that is suppose to collaborate to tackle security challenges in collaboration with the police is party to the crime then community oriented policing is out of question or were the police officers are also influenced by their values and affect their decision then there cannot be community policing. In essence therefore community policing most be capable of moving towards the most difficult of security challenges facing human society while tackling the minor criminal elements that could lead to crime. 5. FUTURE DIRECTION ON COMMUNITY POLICING Huge amount of resources have been dedicated to promote community policing. For instance, in the United States, more than 18 billion dollars have been given to local police stations to implement community policing since 1994 by the government (Wilson, 2005 in Ehran and Bahadir, 2011). It is quite evident that the prospects are good because ‘the philosophy of community policing is being advanced as the new policing system for the twenty-first century’ (Palmiotto, 2011), and also more people tend to agree community policing is desirable (Fielding, 2005). A lot of good achievements have been made so far and more yet to come. Palmiotto (2011) further identified certain factors that will have a great influence for the future development of community policing initiative. The first point raised has to do with the acknowledged growing influence by people of the insecurity around them, especially with regards to terrorism, new strategies are being adopted by community members on how to secure their neighbourhood to have peace of mind and good life, and this for Palmiotto (2011) is a good stride. There are also a growing number of police officers who are educated; in fact for Palmiotto (2011), the current police force has the highest number of educated personnel than ever in its history, considering this fact transformation will be much easier and sophisticated and In the near future, community policing will eventually lead to a community oriented government were people will take full charge of their communities. The above point raised about community oriented government bring back memories of Marxian evolutionary stages of the state were in the end the people will rise up to the challenge of their time and take charge of state affairs in the “government of the people” or rather the proletariat state. The extent to which this will be visible is left for time to tell but for the time being the prospects are good and the people are wiser. Based on the observed trend, we are likely to see the continued growth and expansion of community policing in practice all over the world. The successes recorded by the previous studies and achievements in implementation by various police organizations will be the source of motivation for yet to join police organizations due to the fact that other examples exist and can be learned from.    54 | PART B . SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES   INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL of ACADEMIC RESEARCH Vol. 4. No. 4. July, 2012 It is likely that future efforts will be more precise, structured and organized based on previous research results and experiences obtained. Mistakes recorded by pioneers on implementation will likely be avoided but new once may arise due to the difference in nature and challenges of human societies. It is important to note that despite these successes, we expect to see more critiques of community policing as a viable alternative to current and future challenges of security especially cyber crime and terrorism. The ability of community policing to be flexible will determine its capability of facing the future challenges that will arise, crime and criminals will always device new ways of overcoming security threats to their trade so new and viable alternatives most also be devices in addressing such changes. It has not been easy for scholars to establish a direct relationship between community policing and crime reduction, at best community policing has been able to have positive effect on overall quality of life but that doesn’t mean that crime has reduced. More researches are needed in this area to confirm the community policing and crime relationship; though people have improved quality of life it will seem a cover to make them feel safe while crime rates still remain the way it is. Furthermore, researches in the present and future will need to focus of the effect of community policing on police as well as the community itself, researches need to focus on officer motivation i.e. what are the push factors that drive police officers to want to participate on community policing and the extent of commitment by officers towards community policing. On the community side, more researches are needed in the future to know what makes people to want to participate in community policing or otherwise. It is important to note that different societies have different challenges so the factors that will push people or police to participate in community policing will differ, also the commitment level may differ from one place to another. This indicates that the generalization may be difficult if not impossible to make with respect to the push and pull factors; it is rather a contextual or relative affair. In the end, a possible harmonization will help in having a general understanding of the push and pull factors towards community policing. 6. CONCLUSION Community policing do appear to represent a different mode of operation which encourages openness and flexibility, some of which include the public education, neighbourhood watch, neighbourhood town meetings, store front ministrations, weed and seed, foot patrol and so on. It essentially represent an umbrella concept at least in practice and this have the potential of allowing room for the needed flexibility which will push the people to the centre stage in the not too distant future. It is therefore absolutely necessary that the current tempo is sustained and improved upon; there should also be a continuous stride towards making the command structure less central and continuous engagement of the whole rank and file in the drive, both senior and junior police officers should participate in different ways to foster greater understanding among them. Greater technological advancements are achieved and will be achieved; the police should be in a position to properly harness this to its advantage. In the end, for greater commitment on the part of officers, motivational strategies need to be improved so as to ensure sustained progress. REFERENCES 1. Allender D. M, 2004. Community policing: Exploring the philosophy, FBI law enforcement bulleting, 73:3. 2. Bratton J. M, G. William, M. Ray, O. John, C. Pollard, 1998. Zero tolerance: Policing a free society, London, Hartington fine art limited. 3. Brown L. P. 1989, Houston police department: Neighbourhood-oriented policing. In M. Freeman (ed), Community oriented policing, MIS reports 4. Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice 1994. Understanding community policing: A framework for action, Washington, community policing consortium. 5. Erhan B. and K. Bahadirk, 2011. Contingency theory approach for effective community policing, journal of arts and social science, No23. 6. Fielding N.G., 2005. Concept and theory in community policing, The Haward Journal.Vol 44 No5. 7. Hills A., (2011). Policng a plurality of worlds: The Nigerian police in metropolitan Kano, Oxford University press, London. African affairs 111/442, doi: 10.1093/afraf/adr078 8. James W., 2002. Police: community policing; encyclopaedia of crime and justice. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3403000182.html. 9. Manning, P., 2003. Policing contingencies, Journal of criminal justice and popular culture, Chicago: university of Chicago press. 11(1). 10. Office of community oriented policing service, US department of justice (2007). What is community policing? fromhttp://www.cops.usdoj.gov/default%20asp?item=36. 11. Oliver W. M.,(ed) 2000. Community policing: Classical readings, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall. 12. Stipak B., 1994. Are you really doing Community Policing? The Police Chief, Vol: 61 Issue. 13. Tiedke K. & W. Freeman C. Sower J. Holland, (1957). Community involvement. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press. 14. Tilley N., 2008. Modern approach to policing, problem oriented and intelligence-led in the new burn handbook of policing, pp: 373-403. Willan: Cullompton, Devon. 15. Trojanowicz R. and B. Bucqueroux, 1998. Community policing: how to get started, 2 nd  edition, Cincinnati: Alderson publishing co.
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