Types of Policing Models

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One of the main elements of criminal justice is law enforcement. Law enforcement is carried out through policing. In the United States, police officers hold the primary responsibility of providing security by carrying out patrols. The main roles of police officers in the United States include carrying out investigations, submitting investigation results, maintaining law and order, as well as holding up suspected criminals (Stevenson, 2008). Police officers in the United States also offer emergency services, surveillance, and offer protection to officers working for the government. Four main categories of police officers operate at different levels in the United States. The four categories are federal, state, county, and municipal officers. Federal police officers work under the Department of Justice (DOJ).

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State police officers operate under the state governments through the Department of Public Safety (DPS) (Stevenson, 2008). However, state governments can create their own policing divisions depending on the security situation in their jurisdiction. County police officers operate under a sheriff department found in metropolitan areas. County police officers offer full, limited, and restricted services to counties. Municipal police officers operate in cities and towns. Municipalities often create their own security departments to match the demand for police services. All the four categories of police officers apply different models of policing (Dowell, 2009). This research paper will discuss the different types of policing used by police officers in terms of their differences, similarities, and effects on society.


Criminal justice is a wide discipline that deals with numerous aspects of the legal structure in any country. One of the most crucial elements of the American legal system is law enforcement. Police officers carry out Law enforcement in the United States. The four categories of police officers that operate in the United States apply four models in doing their work. The four models are traditional policing, community policing, intelligence led policing, and problem oriented policing (Stevenson, 2008). Various police departments use the models differently depending on the nature of services they provide and their area of operation. The four models also have a unique set of demands for both the police officers and the people served. Therefore, it is important to ensure that people have good knowledge of the policing models in order to improve their understanding of law enforcement (Stevenson, 2008). The four models have similarities, differences, and a lasting effect.

Traditional policing model

Traditional policing model refers to a crime management approach in which police officers respond only to reported criminal activities. This model applies as a response strategy to crime alerts. This model allows police officers to work closely with detectives. Evidence gathered from a crime scene is used to prepare a report, which a detective uses to carryout investigations. Once the report reaches a detective, police officers return to carrying out their usual patrols (Dowell, 2009). This model limits the interaction between police officers and the people in their area of operation. The reason for this is that officers respond to crimes in various areas where they do not know people and vice versa. Police officers will only appear in a place if a crime has been reported in the area. This approach to law enforcement does not need witnesses because police officers visit a crime scene only to gather visual and physical evidence. Another distinct feature about this model of policing is that there are no crime prevention measures in place (Dowell, 2009). Lack of crime prevention efforts leaves police officers to operate on a demand and supply system. They only work when there is a reported criminal activity. Their workload depends on the number of crimes reported.

Problem oriented policing model

Unlike in the traditional model, this model lays a lot of emphasis on efforts geared towards preventing crime. This model allows police officers to work on identifying and analyzing crimes in their area of operation (Fritsch, Liederbach, & Taylor, 2008). Their analysis develops strategies that are used to give effective responses whenever the identified crimes are reported. According to Herman Goldstein, who developed this policing model, it is very important for police officers to concentrate on eradicating crime instead of focusing on managing it. Goldstein developed this model as an improvement to the traditional model of policing, which focused on managing crime without making any efforts to establish its source (Fritsch et al, 2008). The focus of this model is identifying the real problem and dealing with it completely. Goldstein argued that in order to eradicate crime from the society, there is a need to conduct research, analyze crimes, and make prevention effort. In addition, he emphasized on the need for police officers to foster good relationships with community members and private organizations (Stevenson, 2008). Police officers who use this model, study patterns of crime in order to understand the way and time they are committed. Studies have shown that police officers under this model are very proactive in their work.

The problem oriented policing model has a significant impact on the society. Communities served by police departments that apply this model experience a very different version of law enforcement. First, this model is very successful in preventing, resolving, and eliminating crime. Through its emphasis on research and analysis, police officers are able to identify all the problems within a community and developing effective resolution strategies (Fritsch et al, 2008). Second, this model helps to improve the relationship between police officers and the public because of the increased level of interaction. Third, community members enjoy high quality policing because police officers working under this model have good relations with each other. This model emphasizes the need for teamwork and togetherness in ensuring effective management of crime (Dowell, 2009). Fourth, this policing model helps to reduce the number of incidents where either the police officers or civilians disrespect the authority. Through this model, people gain more knowledge about law enforcement. Although there have been a few notable cases of police officers who have remained too conservative to effectively implement the concept of this model, it remains one of the most successful policing models.

Community oriented policing model

This style of policing emphasizes on the need for police officers to engage community members in preventing and eliminating crime. Police officers often interact with people everywhere they work. The interactions develop out of the fact that community members rely on police officers to provide security, ensure order, and provide response services during emergencies. On the other hand, police officers also rely on community members to report criminal activities (Stevenson, 2008).

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Community members play a crucial role in effective policing by providing vital information applied in analyzing certain crime patterns. These two groups of people have strengthened their relations over the last couple of years as they continually increase their expectations and responsibilities to each other when it comes to law enforcement. They have learnt the benefits of working together for the sake of a common goal. Under this model, police officers operate in specified geographic zones where they actively engage the people living there in crime prevention and management strategies. The police officers develop close relations with community members by making themselves available and easily accessible in case of anything (Dowell, 2009).

The most important element for the success of this model is trust between police officers and community members. The mutual trust is built by believing that they are looking out for each other. Police officers should win the trust of the community members by showing them that those who volunteer vital information regarding crime in their community shall not be victimized (Fritsch et al, 2008). On the other hand, community members should win the trust of police officers by showing them that they are willing to cooperate with them as long as they do their best to manage crime in an effective manner. Studies have shown that community oriented policing model is the commonly used style of policing across all departments in the United States. Police training institutions are very crucial, because they have begun introducing specified courses on community policing. These courses teach police officers how to build good relationships with the members in areas they work as a way of learning and eliminating all forms of crime (Fritsch et al, 2008).

Community oriented model of policing banks on the desire by people to look out for each other. Community policing has numerous impacts on the society. First, community policing helps in developing innovative strategies for managing and eliminating crime. By engaging the community members, police officers make their life easier because people will help them unearth all types of criminals hiding in their midst. In addition, community policing helps in capacity building, as people learn a lot about policymaking and law enforcement (Fritsch et al, 2008).

Communities that have embraced this model have a higher safety index. Community policing is very effective in reducing the level of crime in communities. Police officers have also voiced their job satisfaction when they use this model because people have a better understanding of their job. When community members understand their role in managing crime, the work of police officers will be easier and more fulfilling because they will not be overburdened with the sole responsibility of law enforcement (Stevenson, 2008). The good thing about this model is that if anything bad happens, community members will work together with police officers to eliminate the problem and prevent it from happening again.

Intelligence led policing model

Intelligence led policing model is a style of policing where police officers rely on assessing and managing risks by identifying crime patterns. Police officers who use this model in law enforcement are called intelligence officers (Dowell, 2009). This policing model is slightly different from the others because the course of operations is dependent on police officers and not the crime. With all the other policing models, the nature of crime committed often provides the guide for police officers who conduct investigations. Intelligence led policing does not focus a lot on the crime, but instead focuses more on surveillance and having informants who feed the police officers with information that shows the development of crime patterns under assessment (Fritsch et al, 2008). The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the United States commonly uses this model of policing. The CIA is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for collecting and coordinating intelligence and counterintelligence activities. The Director of Central Intelligence who is supervised by the president and National Security Council head the agency.

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The main reason for the development of this policing model was the failure by the other models to deal effectively with the high rate of crime in the United States. The challenge of using the traditional policing model and the problem-oriented model was that with time, the high rate of crime overwhelmed police officers due to limited resources. This created a huge gap that required new and more effective strategies that would ensure effective management of crime (Fritsch et al, 2008). The new strategy was to reorient the focus of police officers from dealing with criminals to resolving the main root cause of the crime. Police officers were required to conduct surveillance and identify elements within the society that were responsible for the repeated incidents of crime.

Intelligence led policing model requires the United States to form partnerships with global partners in order to increase their capacity to deal with high risk crimes such as terrorism (Fritsch et al, 2008). Over the years, the CIA has been very active in providing intelligence services towards fighting the danger posed by terrorism. However, the famous 9/11 attacks in the United States showed that there is still a lot of development work needed for this model. According to experts, the 9/11 terrorist attack was preventable if the intelligence officers had been more alert and better equipped to identify the threat. Currently, intelligence led policing model is used as a means for sharing information between various agencies that deal with law enforcement, community members, the government, and the private sector among other partners. This model also encourages participation of community members in helping police officers with intelligence services, as they can work as informants (Dowell, 2009). The effect of this policing model is that it has increased the safety index of Americans because police officers are more efficient. Another reason is that police officers have appreciated the role of community members and private agencies in effective management of crime.


Some of the functions performed by police officers include law enforcement, maintaining order, and providing response services among other duties. Police officers use four styles of policing in performing these functions. The four models are traditional policing, community policing, intelligence led policing, and problem oriented policing. Various police departments apply the models differently depending on the nature of the services they provide and their area of operation. All the four models have similarities, differences, and an effect on the society. Police officers cannot effectively manage crime on their own. Therefore, there is a need to ensure that all the four policing models apply in a manner that allows community members and private agencies to make their input towards creating a crime free society. Police officers have appreciated the role of community members and private agencies in effective management of crime.


Dowell, R. L. (2009). Reactive or Proactive Policing Models: An Examination of the Efficacy of Policing Approaches. California: California State University.

Fritsch, E. J., Liederbach, J., & Taylor, R. W. (2008). Police Patrol Allocation and Deployment. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Stevenson, L. (2008). Policing in America: A Reference Handbook. New York: Cengage Learning.

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