Law enforcement have become prime targets for social media exploitation. With so many news reports of the misuse of authority we now find ourselves constantly bombarded with stories detailing the ways law enforcement have infringed on personal freedoms citizens. In a country that is supposedly the “land of the free,” the United States definitely seems to suffer from a lot of restrictions on their freedoms and often those restrictions are given life by law enforcement. Of course, the reality is most law enforcement professionals have good intentions, with a genuine interest in serving and protecting their communities.
Unfortunately, these officers are limited by the individual policies their agencies impose on them. If more law enforcement agencies would move towards the community policing model, every community within the country would be on its way to a better future.
At its core, community policing simply calls for a strong cooperation between the local police officers and the community they serve. Whereas a traditional police approach might involve putting more officers in undercover vehicles and driving around troubled neighborhoods, community police policies will usually involve putting more officers directly in the light of day. From there, these officers will reach out to help lead the community.
Oftentimes, those agencies that move in this direction do things like switching officers over to foot patrol and bicycle routes rather than driving around. They also try to form more community watch programs, get involved in local girls and boys clubs, and a variety of other outreach efforts. In doing so, they build up a certain rapport with the community, building trust.
Unfortunately today, most people around the country get an image of a militarized police officer when they picture police in today’s world. They separate themselves from the police and see a clear distinction, even law-abiding citizens become fearful as they drive down the street and spot a police car behind them. Immediately, that person looks to his or her speedometer, making sure to stay below the posted speed limit and take extra care to observe the law.
This enforcement by fear does more harm in today’s modern society than it does good, often creating a palpable gap between law enforcement and civilians. Instead, agencies need to focus on bridging this gap, presenting police as a friendly and helpful, force rather than someone to be scared of.
Most modern policing strategies rely on putting officers in the right place. Using crime mapping and accounting for any specific variables that might cause increases in crime, they deploy officers in areas where crimes are expected. Of course, most modern policies still look at reacting to crime rather than approaching it proactively.
In community policing, officers don’t just focus on where they are. They also focus on preemptive crime prevention. This all starts by building trust.
Instead of sneaking around and trying to catch people doing something wrong, like a minor traffic violation, more police agencies need to start embracing the ideals of community policing. Ultimately, this will lead to a stronger community and less crime.
Do you live in a community utilizing community policing? What differences has community policing made in the relationships between the general public and officers?