Community and Problem-Solving Policing

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In the last two decades, police experts especially in the US, have come up with new philosophies that would improve and help deal with crime more effectively. These new philosophies are community policing and problem-solving policing which have attracted a lot of debate even outside the US because they have resulted in more hopeful outcomes in places where they have been used. The community policing concept is laid on the basis of developing meaningful cooperation between the police and the population born on trust and cooperation. The problem-solving concept is based on the changes in the way the police force is organized and the procedures they use in dealing with crime (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1994). The federal government law enforcement agencies have integrated these philosophies in solving crime in the country. This essay discusses the two philosophies, shows how the federal government has integrated these two philosophies in law enforcement.

Community policing

The traditional way of policing was to keep peace and order, enforce laws, and make arrests when a crime has been committed as a way of ensuring the security of people and their property. This was not enough as it provided a temporary solution and crime would keep on recurring. Another weak aspect of this way of policing was the lack of trust and skepticism with which the citizens treated the police. In addition, the social landscape of the country was undergoing a series of changes with the family unit becoming less stable than it was before. Single families with parents devoting less time with their children were becoming a common phenomenon, churches and schools could not step into the gap either and the American community was becoming diverse due to immigrants, ethnic groups and minorities who pursue totally different goals. Moreover, the government was finding it difficult to balance its budgets due to reducing resources while at the same time multiple problems were being experienced in the country especially in urban areas plagued with illegal drugs, murders, and gang violence among others (Fielding, 1995).

The community policing concept was developed based on these reasons in the early1980s and it has become the new philosophy of thinking about crime. Community policing, therefore, is a concept based on a collaborative endeavor between the police and the citizens in dealing with problems of crime and disorder and in looking for solutions to them. Due to this, it has been described as democracy in action by the Community Policing Consortium. This means active participation of everybody in the community is required. It is based on two matching core components of a partnership between the police and the citizens and problem-solving methods of establishing and dealing with community problems as identified by the Community Policing Consortium (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1994).

Structural and management changes in the way the police force is organized are fundamental requirements in order to have room for community participation. Community policing expanded the concept of the community in the way it was defined in traditional policing to include it as an active partner in policing. This involves the adoption of new and broad kinds of methods to address the goals of the programs which necessitated changes in the management of police organizations.

The patrol officer is identified as a very important aspect of the philosophy as with the support of the police force, he/she assists the community in mobilizing support and resources to solve their crime events and situations. The communities on their part say their concerns, give advice and participate in solving the problem (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1994).

Problem-solving policing

Traditionally, police have tried to deal with problems arising from their areas of operation. These may include clearing traffic situations, giving first services in emergencies, alerting other authorities in such cases, evacuating people and animals among other things. These problems are typical of police work and will continue to be there, however, they are surface incidents as there are underlying issues affecting the interconnections and interactions of a neighborhood, community or a certain geographical area. This was not addressed in the past and this need led to the development of the philosophy of problem-solving policing (Weitekamp, Kerner, and Meier, 2003).

In developing this philosophy, Goldstein had observed the obsession with technological models of developing police operations which left out the people and situations affected by the events of the crime. He saw a need for a concept that would give police the methods and means of identifying signs of problems behind the incidences experienced and specific procedures to address them either after when the events occur. This, therefore, means that problem solving policing is not just a philosophy but a strategy that puts the community-focused policing philosophy into practice (Skogan, Hartnett, DuBois, Comey, Kaiser and Lovig, 2000). This means that the police establishment should focus on identifying and examining the root causes of incidences of crime and acts of disorder and find lasting solutions to them. Recent developments in law enforcement procedures especially in America have outlined problem-solving strategies that focus on realizing community-oriented policing. These strategies are based on the SARA (Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment) model that concentrates on crime generators and hot sports. Activities on this model include collaborating with citizens to build up surveillance and area control through programs such as Neighborhood Watch among others. The model also uses data gathered from citizen and crime prevention surveys (Weitekamp, Kerner, and Meier, 2003).

Federal government’s integration into community policing

The US federal government is involved in community policing through the Community Policing Consortium which was established and is being funded by the US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). This is comprised of representatives from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), National Sheriff’s Association, Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and the Police Foundation (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1994). This consortium had the mandate to develop to formulate a conceptual framework for community policing and to help concerned agencies to put it to practice in a learning experience between the police, community members and policymakers. This consortium has assembled information and published a series of documents focusing on community policing titled Understanding Community Policing. It has also set a framework through which various stakeholders in this strategy share their successes, failures and lessons in a process of development of community policing. Training and technical help are provided by the consortium in demonstration sites at the county, municipal and state police agencies. Together with the BJA, the consortium has also developed products such as an implementation guide with training materials and curriculum on community policing, case studies and demonstrations on community policing experiences and challenges in real life, a comprehensive resource directory and a bibliography of literature and practices in this field and designs on implementation(Skogan, Hartnett, DuBois, Comey, Kaiser and Lovig, 2000).


The move towards new concepts on policing has gained force in the last two decades as police and communities find more successful ways of enhancing law and order. The two philosophies are community and problem-solving policing have attracted a lot of debate even outside the US because they have resulted in more hopeful outcomes. Community policing emphasizes on police and community trust and partnership and the problem-solving concept addresses the procedures of dealing with crime. The federal government is integrated into community policing through the Community Policing Consortium established and funded by the Department of Justice.

Reference List

Bureau of Justice Assistance (1994). Understanding Community Policing: A Framework for Action. Bureau of Justice Assistance. Web.

Fielding, N. (1995). Community Policing. Oxford University Press.

Skogan, G. W., Hartnett, S. M., DuBois, J. Comey, J. T., Kaiser, M. and Lovig, J. H. ( 2000).

Problem Solving in Practice: Implementing Community Policing in Chicago. National Institute of Justice. Weitekamp, E. M., Kerner, H. J. and Meier, U (2003). Problem Solving Policing: Views of Citizens and Citizen Expectation in Germany [electronic version]. Social Work and Society Journal, 1 (1), 52-77.

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