Community Policing: International Patterns and Comparative Perspectives

By Dominique Wisler; Ihekwoaba D. Onwudiwe | Go to book overview

Foreword

Community-oriented policing (COP) has achieved an enviable status in the practices of policing. The model and ideology has become the almost unchallenged definition of good and democratic policing. The terms community and community policing, and the many themes that these terms imply—partnership, working together, responsiveness, service, accountability, transparency—are now standard admonitions on how to practice effective, democratic, or, more generally, good and professional policing. COP norms have found their way into transnational regimes on what constitutes policing, which respects professional and democratic norms. COP is the ideological and policy model espoused in mission statements, police goals, and reform programs by practically all policing forces, and by the vast number of transnational police assistance programs delivered through intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and corporate and private consultancy firms (e.g., Caparini and Marenin, 2004; Friedman, 1992; Lab and Das, 2003; Neild, 2002; for a more critical assessment, see Brogden and Nijhar, 2005; Ellison, 2007). To be modern, in tune with current thinking, open to new ideas, aware of domestic and global developments in policing, and committed to professional standards means being able to speak the language of community policing, or, at the very least, be comfortable in talking about the need to have the community involved in policing practices.

As happens with “universal” solutions to policy problems, COP is in danger of becoming a meaningless phrase because it can be and has been interpreted differently by various countries and policing forces. The police of quite divergent countries claim to practice COP or are seeking to move toward that ideology and model. The flexibility and vagueness of the term, the inability to clearly define the almost mythical notion of “community,” the ability to portray (in the official rhetoric of policing) many existing practices as examples of COP, and scholarly disagreements on how to conceptualize and measure whether a policing system practices COP should cause reformers, advocates, scholars, critics, and the police to step back to rethink what COP looks like when implemented. What really constitutes COP, in relation to the work of the police and their relations with civic society? One way is to analyze police practices undertaken in the name of COP in order to clarify the concept, to limit it to practices that clearly differentiate COP from other

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