A discussion concerning the definition of community policing can include vastly different connotations, depending upon the views held by those involved. Street-level officers might conjure up a scenario that requires the transfer of officers from traditional enforcement duties to an assignment that requires little "police action" but, instead, concentrates on helping citizens confront "order maintenance" issues. Community groups may envision a police force that responds exclusively to the demands voiced by them. Researchers usually define the model by their particular orientation. Politicians typically support the concept, but often remain unsure of what the theory means. Law enforcement administrators tend to view the idea as another federally supported initiative that they must implement to receive grant funds. Finally, officers and citizens working in a successful project often reach a consensus interpretation entirely dissimilar to any of these. With such a wide range of viewpoints, formulating a definition of community policing becomes a daunting task. However, one explanation highlights nine words that can provide the key to better understanding the concept.
Community policing is a philosophy of full-service, personalized policing where the same officer patrols and works in the same area on a permanent basis, from a decentralized place, working in a proactive partnership with citizens to identify and solve problems. (1)
Based on this definition, the first indication that this form of policing differs from other approaches is its label as a philosophy. Three other critical aspects include personalized, partnership, and problem-solving ingredients. Other identified factors, while important, are not as essential to understanding the concept of community policing.
CHANGING THE APPROACH
Over the years, American society has embraced …