Community Policing

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The following paper will briefly outline the philosophical, managerial and direct consequences of restructuring a police force, into a system rooted in community policing. To create the momentum necessary for change within a traditional organization, the emphasis on a new direction must staple itself to the day to day operations. Such a course change is generally personified by new leadership. Furthermore, proper management of the transition as a project allows for appropriate milestones and short term goals, permitting the organization to keep the initiative essential for continuing the change.

The results of these actions most commonly materialize as staff changes, new employees and new managers trained in the principles of the transforming organization. Transforming a police agency into a service with more direct interaction with the community requires a tremendous bureaucratic shift, married with strong political support. In order to establish an efficient community policing service, the internal bureaucracy must adapt and move the control of power over to the front line police officers.

Police officers must be trained and encouraged to consult the public, educate the public and coordinate with community associations. This is a transformation which positions the police service at polar opposites with its traditional, paramilitary roots. Anderson writes that, “[… ] police forces should be willing to undergo change, especially deep, organizational shifts from the rigid paramilitary structure, to one where accountability and public consultation are the operative philosophies. ” (Anderson, 1995).

This metamorphosis is a restructuring from a vertical, command and control mode of operation, to a horizontal participatory system. Strong and efficient communication, as well as on-site decision making capacity, empowers the local constable with the tools necessary to work with a community in solving problems, rather then attacking individual symptoms of crime. However, shifting power from a hierarchal system into a distributed social network of constables, can be met with rigid opposition.

Consequently, the political support for community policing insists upon the appointment of an appropriate leader. This individual, adhering to the philosophy of community policing, can put forward the direction and inspiration necessary for difficult shifts within the bureaucracy. Anderson offers a comment from Justice Oppal, noting that “[… ] the major impediment toward community policing was the police organizational structure itself: “The decision and policies are typically made at the top of the police hierarchy. ” (p.

Vii) It requires a “flatter” organization without the multiple tiers of rank. It requires decentralization and individual empowerment of line officers so they can work effectively within their communities. ” (Anderson, 1995). To accomplish this philosophical transformation, many changes must occur. The midway point, from a philosophical mission statement and the physical realization of structural change, is the management of the project, otherwise known as strategic planning. In order for the new ideas to materialize Seagrave notes that, police services must “[… adopt a new set of management principles such as strategic planning, participatory management, flexible organizational structure and decentralization of authority to an organization. ” (Seagrave, 1995).

Such a concept is persona non gratis in the sphere of traditional management systems. Krahn and Lowe, in their analysis of work and industry, highlight that “Conventional organization theory has been criticized for being too concerned with structure, per se, and, as a result, losing sight of the larger socioeconomic, political, and historical context of which organizations are a part. (Krahn & Lowe, 2005, p. 205).

Community policing is a new organizational theory. Pursuant with the arguments put forth from Krah and Lowe, the rebirth of policing resembles total quality management (TQM) and quality of working life (QWL) initiatives. Therefore, the results of the strategically planned restructuring, will permit police officers and their organization a greater amount of visibility within their community. However, specialized investigative departments will be downsized or phased out, as a direct result of the restructuring toward community policing.

These departmental specialists function in a realm espousing the values of traditional management theories. This cadre adds unnecessary boundaries, limiting the flow of information and the appropriate attention required to solve a problem. The shrinking of these specialized units will permit local police agencies to hire and train more front line police officers. In turn, this will increase police visibility, allow for more eyes, hands and feet to directly manipulate a problem, and permit police officers the time to actively engage the community.

Moreover, certain positions can be delegated to civilian personnel. For example, tasks such as dispatching and reception do not require the skills of a sworn member. Clairmont writes, “In more general terms, the staff establishment changes indicate accelerated civilianization of support services such as dispatch and warrant delivery; elaboration of front-line supervision as required by the greater decentralization of policing associated with the introduction of zones and squads; and the refocusing and downsizing of specialist units in keeping with the change to the constable generalist “on the street. ” (Clairmont, 1993).

The tactics of the previous generation of policing will influence the strategy of the new generation of policing. Keeping the knowledge acquiring through specialized police forces and a rigid vertical hierarchical ladder of authority, permits the new leadership the ability to make sensible modifications. The ends goals of both generations are, in essence, the same; to protect and preserve the safety of the people.

However, this new generation seeks a reorientation toward a more Peelian type of policing. Thus, merging the adaptations of specialized police forces, their capacity of autonomous functionality and integration with modern technology, allows for the new policing generation to birth an organization capable of working with the community in preserving safety and maintaining order. Consequently eliminating the alienation of the community and the popular perception of a mysterious, rigid and faceless police organization.

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