Policing is an essential issue for communities throughout the world (Newborn & Jones, 2007). For the purposes of this discussion: Two police officers are arguing about the policies of community-oriented and problem-oriented policing as opposed to zero-tolerance policing. The research will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of these two approaches to policing. The investigation will also explain the ideologies that support these policy perspectives. The research will also explore whether or not they are completely different or if there are some similarities. The investigation will also explain which approach to policing, or perhaps a different alternative altogether, makes more sense.
Community-oriented and problem-oriented policing as opposed to zero-tolerance policing
Community Oriented Policing
One of the police officers explains that community policing is defined as “a policing strategy that promotes organizational tactics, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime (“Community Policing Defined”).” According to the United States justice department there are three aspects of community policing. These three aspects are as follows:
Community Partnerships- these are mutual alliances that are developed between the police and the individuals and the communities they serve. The purpose of the partnership is to create solutions to problems and assist the community in better trusting the police (“Community Policing Defined”).
Organizational Transformation- this involves the careful positioning of personnel, information systems structure, and organizational management, to sustain the aforementioned community partnerships and practical problem solving (“Community Policing Defined”).
Problem Solving- the strategy of participating in the proactive and systematic examination of recognized problems to create and thoroughly evaluate efficient outcomes (“Community Policing Defined”).
The other police officer explains the philosophy of Problem-oriented policing. The officer asserted that Cordner & Biebel (2005) explain that problem-oriented policing asserts that law enforcement officers should place a greater amount of emphasis on problems, instead of incidents (Cordner & Biebel, 2005). The authors further explain that
“Problems are defined either as collections of incidents related in some way (if they occur at the same location, for example) or as underlying conditions that give rise to incidents, crimes, disorder, and other substantive community issues that people expect the police to handle. By focusing more on problems than on incidents, police can address causes rather than mere symptoms and consequently have a greater impact. The public health analogy is often used to illustrate this difference in conceptualizing the police role, with its emphasis on prevention and taking a proactive approach. This analogy is useful, too, because it reminds us that even with a strong public health approach, people still get sick and need medical attention, i.e., police still need to respond to calls and make arrests, even as POP prevents some problems and reduces the demand for reactive policing (Cordner & Biebel, 2005).”
In addition the officer explains that one of the primary tenets of the problem oriented policing is that the use of criminal law only serves as one means of policing as opposed to serving as the end objective of policing. This aspect of the problem oriented policing means more than just a change in terminology. The approach asserts that law enforcement should pursue large and significant societal objectives such as the protections of citizens, reducing crime, maintaining order and reducing fear. This approach also asserts that law enforcement agents should lawful and ethical methods that produce the most well-organized and successful results. In some cases “this may involve enforcement of the criminal law, and sometimes it may not. Thus, the words “policing” and “law enforcement” are not synonymous, and law enforcement is not the only, or even necessarily the principal, technique of policing (Cordner & Biebel, 2005).”
The officers argued that either of these policing policies was better than a zero tolerance policy. The zero-tolerance policy associated with policing asserts that all crimes should be punished, even minor offenses (Lum, 2009). That is this policy presents a zero tolerance for crime, while the other policing methods discussed place greater emphasis on building relationships with the community and attempting to understand the problems that create crime.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Community Oriented Policing and Problem oriented policing
The advantages of Community Oriented policing are as follows
Community participation-Community oriented policing is unique in that it involves the forming of alliances between police and the communities that they serve. This gives the community some connection to police officers. The alliance also empowers the community because they understand the role that they play in making the community safer.
Police officers are able to build trust with the community- the development of trust is of particular importance in communities where police are not trusted by citizens. This mistrust can make it difficult for the police to solve crimes or to keep crimes from occurring (Macguire, 2004).
Organization Management- this strategy of policing also challenges the management of the overall law enforcement organization. That is this policing strategy provides additional structure where none exists or improves an existing system.
Overall the community oriented policing philosophy is advantageous because it creates awareness in communities using the following three stategies. “One, a criminal will know the area has a cooperation agreement with the residents and the police to be aware of any suspicious activities. Two, residents can count on each other to look out for their well-being and safety against criminal activity or suspicious persons. Third, public relations between residents and police are developed through these programs which also provides education to the residents about police and court procedures (“The Value of Community Oriented Policing”).”
The primary disadvantage of community oriented policing is that people in the community can overstep boundaries. That is in some cases the residents of a community can take matters into their own hands instead of allowing police to handle the situation. This can occur when officers do not properly define boundaries. This is a major disadvantage because some members of a community can be seriously hurt if they attempt to handle crtain situations instead of allowing the police to handle them.
Advantages and Disadvatages of Problem Oriented Policing
Seeks to understand the cause of crime- this particular policing method is aimed at understanding the reasons why crime occurs. In other words it seeks to understand the problem as oppose simply concentrating on the actual crimes being commited. tThis is particularly true of minor crimes.
Wholistic approach to solving and stopping crimes-Because this particular method focuses on the reason for crime it may be extremely effective in combatting crime.
The primary disadvantage of the problem oriented theory is that it can take a great deal of time to actually make a difference as it pertains to reducing crime levels. That is this strategy demands a longer process that can take time to be effective. Because this is the case crime levels could continue to increase or remain the same in the months following the implementation of this type of policing policy.
Similarities and Differences
Both the community oriented approach and the problem oriented approach attempt to build relationships with the community that is being served. Both approaches seemed to be geared toward solving the problem of crime over the long-term. Where as the zero tolerance policy only focuses on the punishment of criminals without confronting the reasons why the crimes are committed. This is true even when the crimes are minor.
The primary difference between the two approaches is the manner in which they address the issue of crime. The community approach relies a great deal on the community to assist in remedying crime. On the other hand the strategies are similar in that they seek to solve the problem of crime in a way that is all encompassing.
Which approach is the most sensible?
The community oriented approach appears to be most suitable. Not only doe s this approach include the participation of the community it also incorporates organizational change. Both community involvement and organizational change is necessary if policing efforts are going to be effective. This approach also emphasizes the importance of trust between the police and the community. The community oriented approach to policing is the most effective in the solving and reducing of crime within a community.
For the purposes of this discussion: Two police officers are arguing about the policies of community-oriented and problem-oriented policing as opposed to zero-tolerance policing. The research analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of these two approaches to policing. Both approaches seek to understand crime. However, both approaches had disadvantages related to the boundaries of community residents and the time required to solve crime using a problem oriented approach. The investigation also explained the ideologies that support these policy perspectives. The research will also explore whether or not they are completely different or if there are some similarities. The research found that both approaches embraced understanding crime and attempting to stop it systematically. The investigation also found that the community approach to policing was the most sensible.
“Community Policing Defined.” http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/default.asp?item=36
G Cordner, EP Biebel. Problem-Oriented Policing in Practice. Criminology & Public Policy, Volume 4, Issue 2 (p 155-180)
Lum, C. 2009 Community Policing or Zero Tolerance. British Journal of Criminology. http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/azp039v1
Maguire, M. 2004. ‘The Crime Reduction Programme in England and Wales: Reflections on the Vision and the Reality’, Criminal Justice 4(3): 213 — 37.
Newborn T., Jones T. 2007. Symbolizing crime control. Theoretical Criminology. Vol. 11(2): 221 — 243;
The Value of Community Oriented Policing. http://www.helium.com/items/1268384-the-value-of-community-oriented-policing
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