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Police and Community Policing

Bud Levin

Community policing, by a variety of names, has been around for a very long time. Some would argue that it precedes Sir Robert Peel’s principles (e.g., http://lacp.org/2009-Articles-Main/062609-Peels9Principals-SandyNazemi.htm).

In a more modern context, it has been contrasted with both combat policing and neighborhood-driven policing (http://futuresworkinggroup.cos.ucf.edu/docs/Volume%201/Vol1-NDP-FWG.pdf , p. 9). Many police believe that there are times where each of those models might be appropriate.

In the wake of recent U.S. uproars , in Sanford FL, Ferguson MO, Baltimore MD and a variety of other places and including on or near various college campuses, there has been a re-examination of what is right and proper for police to do. That re-examination is still under way.

The relationship between police and community has never been a stable one, nor should it be.  For example, when gang members are shooting at me, I want combat policing to come to my rescue.  However, when my neighbors and I disagree about the proper care of our front lawns and the disagreement gets out of hand, it is not combat policing that is likely to produce an improved situation.

All of us at heart want policing customized to the needs we perceive at the time. However, what happens when what I perceive is not the same as what my neighbor perceives?  What if my neighbor is of a demographic different than mine? Suddenly the police role becomes a bit more of a challenge.

None of the above is new. What is new is that in the U.S. many police departments and policing associations are engaged in discussion regarding how we might better “protect and serve.” A goal of that discussion is to build futures better than our past. The Society of Police Futurists International has that discussion front and center on its agenda.

 


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