Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Community Policing

For some who haven't noticed, policing is changing. It's changing faster in some geographic areas than others, but it is changing.

From the 1930's until the 1980's, policing was in what some have called the Reform Era. During that period and under the strong leadership of reformists like O.W. Wilson, August Vollmer, and V.A. Leonard, progressive law enforcement agencies turned to more efficient policing. This included improvements in departmental communications, increased mobility, and generally more technology. But this increase in effeciency had a down side: It physically distanced law enforcement officers from the people in their geographic area of responsibility.

From the 1980's to now, policing has been transitioning into another era, the Community Policing Era. This is an effort to reestablish the connection between the law enforcement officer and the community in which s/he works. The theory is that if the officer shares community ownership with those who live and also work in the community, the officer will be more effective. It then follows that the officer's agency should be more effective. This transition is not smooth or simple. It is forcing department managers and leaders to deviate from the police culture in which they professionally advanced.

Because community policing is here, whether the police and their communities like it or not, it is helpful to better understand it. The California Attorney General's Office Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS) program "...is an approach that addresses the causes of crime and encourages long term innovative problem solving, improving law enforcement-community partnerships with better quality communication." This link offers three definitions of Community Oriented Policing.


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