Community Policing and Problem Solving

Community Policing and Problem Solving Policing John K. Forrest II CJS/210 August 15, 2010 Travis Coldwell Community Policing and Problem Solving Policing When police departments and crime rates of the past are examined there are some apologist who believe that America would be in a better law enforcement situation provide the policies of the past we put back into use. With the public becoming more technologically advanced and criminal’s awareness of prosecution avoidance, community policing is the best solution for the modern community.

The introduction of the different models of community policing and the problem solving policing tactics employed will be covered in this essay as well as the changing needs of communities that have necessitated the engagement of local police with the community. In addition to the methods that local communities in the United States have implemented this essay will also cover the federal government’s involvement in community policing techniques. Overall the effectiveness of these techniques will be explored and the most effective technique will be explored.

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The needs of communities in the United States are different today than in the past with violent crime at all time highs and crimes that would have been considered inconceivable in the past occurring every day in today’s time. The increase in the population of the United States is also a contributing factor to this increase in crime rate increase but also the main culprit in the need for community policing. Police departments could not have increased in size at a rate equivalent to the population so community policing techniques began to be used to help multiply the manpower of local police forces.

The main philosophies of community policing are to allow the police forces and their local communities to work as efficiently as possible, to provide a complete understanding of the limits of local police forces and their ability to catch and prosecute all crime, implementation of problem solving policies that are intended to preemptively deter crime, and to bring the public into a greater understanding of what the capabilities and the functions of the local police departments are. (Dempsey & Forst, 2005)

While local police departments usually use some form of problem solving technique as a component of their larger community policing programs these community policing law enforcement departments do not completely set their stake with the problem solving tactic’s benefits. There are national police forces that use problem solving tactics as a priority in their police departments, one of these being the Baltimore County Maryland police department who uses outreach programs to reach local community members.

Some of the methods used to reach and assist the Baltimore County community are vehicle and carjacking prevention programs and criminal act prevention by environmental and property design for houses, businesses, and local schools. Baltimore County also implements a full variety of violent crime prevention programs that are directed to prevent robbery, employee and shoplifting theft, scams and swindles, and most importantly personal security with programs dealing with computer safety to prevention of potential rape situations. Baltimore County Police Dept. , 2010) The directed focus of problem solving policing is for assigned officers to identify problems in local areas first and then providing appropriate services in which to change the mindsets and the predatory and careless actions that promote criminal and dangerous activity. The benefits of both the community based police programs and the problem solving programs have been recognized by the federal government who actively played a role in the promotion of these advances in law enforcement.

In 1994 Bill Clinton signed the crime bill that provided local law enforcement agencies with monetary grants to assist them in the stimulation of new programs, both community and crime prevention based, intended to reduce the overall crime rate in the United States. (Dempsey & Forst, 2005) The exposure by the Federal Government is not only financial but continues to change as local communities need change. The Federal Government monitors through a program named COMPASS a variety of crime statistics and crime rates that reflect the effectiveness of policies begun after the distribution of funding for 1994’s crime bill.

One interesting function of this COMPASS program is the ability of people in local communities to track the release dates and the locations of recently released prisoners and for law enforcement to preventatively intercede in the elimination of temptations by using problem solving techniques to keep these previously incarcerated out of jail and productive citizens. (Reentry Policy Council, N. D. ) Overall the Federal Governments intercession in local policy funding stimulated action and cooperation by local and Federal agencies beyond what was previously established.

While unbiased examination yields numerous effective techniques it is obvious that the most effective policing technique is the hybrid of both community based policing divisions that heavily use preemptive problem solving techniques. Dedicating an entire police department to a singular train of thought is not helpful to the local community because of the varying need of a city or county’s citizens. This hybrid allows police department to best change techniques based on community section and lets these sections get what is most needed and not what is most convenient for each department, respectively.

While this hybrid method lets agencies positively affect the maximum number of citizens in a city, it is not implied that police departments who dedicate themselves to a singular technique are not effective. It must be understood that the technique used in a particular area has to be based on its demographic and each specific need so any one or any combination of all could be the solution nationally. While there is no dispute that the community based or problem solving techniques are at least somewhat effective it is important to understand exactly what it is that each of these approaches brings to the table of law enforcement.

Whether it is a local presence provided through police substations that allow police departments to station themselves in a decentralized manner or by in school programs aimed at troubled youth and the prevention of local crime the individual needs of everyone in each community have to be understood. This understanding of problems and crime trends have become easier to understand with the involvement of the Federal Government and the COMPASS program and with this tool in particular understanding needs no longer comes with the time consumption that the members of law enforcement cannot easily afford.

Regardless of the technique that is employed America is a safer place today then where it was 20 years ago. References Baltimore Cty. Police Dept.. (2010, April 29th). Community outreach and crime prevention programs. Retrieved from http://www. baltimorecountymd. gov/Agencies/police/community/crime_prevention. html Dempsey, J. S. , & Forst, L. S. (2005). Introduction to policing (3rd

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