Reinventing or Repackaging Public Services? the Case of Community-Oriented Policing

Article excerpt

If the sound bites of the reinventing government movement are ever to attain the status of sound scripture, they must first be operationalized in terms of specific services. These slogans call for a market-oriented, customer-driven government, owned by empowered communities and featuring decentralized services focused on preventing rather than on curing. These new initiatives are delivered by public organizations employing participative, team-oriented management systems and results-oriented evaluative criteria (Osborne and Gaebler, 1992). Although community policing builds on previous innovations in policing, such as problem-oriented policing (Goldstein, 1990; 1979) and team policing (Schwartz and Clarren, 1977; Sherman et al., 1973) that predate the formal reinventing government movement, community policing has become recognized as the law enforcement manifestation of that movement (Turner and Wiatrowski, 1995). Like outcome-oriented, mission driven government, community policing has become a global phenomenon (Bayley, 1994a; Weatheritt, 1991) that reflects reinvention's market values and outcome-oriented management precepts.

In his capacity as chairman of the Task Force on Government Accomplishment and Accountability of the American Society for Public Administration, Raymond T. Olsen reviewed nearly 40 case studies of outcome management strategies in the public sector, and he concluded that the core management systems of the organizations pursuing these strategies were generally not being realigned to accommodate them (Olsen, 1997); that is, these management systems continue to reinforce a process of control rather than supporting a results-driven orientation.

This article examines the implementation of the community policing model by local law enforcement agencies in Florida. It focuses on the extent to which adoption has affected existing policies, procedures, and organizational structures. Local law enforcement service delivery systems have typically been housed in hierarchical bureaucracies featuring command-and-control management systems. Such systems would appear to be antithetical to the spirit and substance of community policing.

Community policing has suffered from conceptual confusion in both research and practice (Roberg and Kuykendall, 1993; Wycoff, 1991; Greene and Taylor, 1991). Community policing has been implemented in a wide variety of ways, manifesting differences in personnel, organizational structures, deployment schemes, patrol modes, operational functions, geographical scopes, and degree of involvement of citizens and coordination with external agencies (Bayley, 1994a; 1994b; Sadd and Grinc, 1994). However, despite this confusion, community policing is widely accepted by politicians and police professionals as an innovative way to deliver police services (Eck and Rosenbaum, 1994). As early as 1984, 143 police agencies surveyed nationally reported utilizing community policing (Trojanowicz and Harden, 1985). Forty-two percent of all police departments serving populations of over 50,000 recently reported that they had adopted some form of community policing (Trojanowicz, 1994).

For Bayley (1994a) the basic elements of community policing are: consultation with community groups regarding their security needs; command devolution so that those closest to the community can determine how to best respond to those needs; mobilization of agencies other than the police to assist in addressing those needs; and remedying the conditions that generate crime and insecurity through focused problem solving. He and others (Moore, 1994; Eck and Rosenbaum, 1994) are comfortable with the ambiguity that surrounds the concept, but Wycoff (1991) suggests that it may now be a barrier to effective communication about police practices. Walker (1992) notes that community policing may be victimized by its popularity and rapid expansion inasmuch as proper planning and implementation appear to be lacking. …