Community Policing, Chicago Style

Community Policing, Chicago Style

Community Policing, Chicago Style

Community Policing, Chicago Style


Police departments across the country are busily "reinventing" themselves, adopting a new style known as "community policing". This approach to policing involves organizational decentralization, new channels of communication with the public, a commitment to responding to what the community thinks their priorities ought to be, and the adoption of a broad problem-solving approach to neighborhood issues. Police departments that succeed in adopting this new stance have an entirely different relationship to the public that they serve. Chicago made the transition, embarking on what is now the nation's largest and most impressive community policing program. This book, the first to examine such a project, looks in depth at all aspects of the program--why it was adopted, how it was adopted, and how well it has worked.


Avigorous debate is taking place over the role of the police in American society--a debate that is closely linked to a new burst of innovation in police departments all over the country. Although it takes many different forms, this wave of innovation has become known as "community policing."

The concept is so popular with the public and city councils that scarcely a chief wants his department to be known for failing to climb on this bandwagon. This is, of course, a reason for caution. Enthusiasm for the idea of community policing has not yet been tempered by evidence about two big issues: Can it be done, and will it work? The police chiefs that must shoulder the burden of "reinventing" their agencies know that these are unanswered questions. Many fear that they are more likely to fail than to succeed as they are swept down this popular path.

Not only are police departments notoriously resistant to change; but sophisticated observers are even uncertain about how much effect police really have on the trends that are driving down the quality of life in American cities. It is not clear to either group whether community policing can indeed be done, or whether it will work.

This book presents the results of a large-scale evaluation of community policing in Chicago--It answers the "Can it be done?" and "Will it work?" questions for a major American city. During the mid-1990s, Chicago embarked on an ambitious effort to rein-

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