Rethinking Community Policing

Rethinking Community Policing

Rethinking Community Policing

Rethinking Community Policing

Synopsis

Community policing is in decline, threatened with obsolescence by data-driven practices like COMPSTAT and Intelligence-Led Policing. Efficiency driven and aided by technology, these practices are delivering on the crime reduction promises community policing aspired to. Ray argues that much of community policing's difficulties lie in the lack of a clear theoretical foundation informing its community engagement mandate. The uncritical incorporation of pluralism needlessly highlights the differences between police and community groups. Deliberative democratic theory offers a theoretical foundation that may save community policing. Moreover, Ray uses historical sources to suggest the inevitability of community policing in America.

Excerpt

The community policing enterprise is beginning to founder. Community policing scholarship and innovation has slowed as scholars’ and police practitioners’ efforts focus on new data-driven initiatives that seemly deliver on the crime-reduction promises community policing had hoped to realize. In fact, when discussing the research for this book with a respected colleague – one who wrote extensively on the subject of community policing in the 1980s and 1990s – he confided his belief that “community policing was an idea that had run its course.” Can this truly be? Has history taught us nothing?

The social and political turmoil of the 1960s and early 1970s greatly affected all levels of government. The era marked a change in thinking about the relationship between the government and the governed. Citizens demanded a new standard of legitimacy based on access and voice for all. The demands extended to all levels of government, particularly the police. During the 1960s, the police received unprecedented scrutiny and criticism concerning their response to high profile incidents as well as commonplace routine encounters with citizens. A series of presidential commissions and blue ribbon committees investigated and recommended changes in practices for improving the relationship between the police and the citizens they serve. Scholarship supporting and furthering these recommendations ensued, ultimately ushering in the era of community policing. The central feature of this new model of policing concerned methods and practices designed to both engage and involve citizens in police matters that, by the 1980s, evolved into community policing.

Emerging from the same tumult, but at a considerably slower pace, was a new way of thinking about democracy, deeply rooted in critical theory. Known as deliberative democratic theory, it also had citizen . . .

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