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  6. What is Community Policing?

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What Is Community Policing?

Can one officer really transform a community? Under the community policing model, where officers are empowered to identify and solve problems proactively, the answer is certainly YES. Being an effective community policing officer involves a unique blend of skills. Learn what makes a good community policing officer and explore ways you can develop the needed skills.

Community policing is defined as involving three key components: developing community partnerships, engaging in problem solving, and implementing community policing organizational features. Explore the tabs below for more information on these central components of community policing.

Other Government Agencies – Police partner with agencies such as probation and parole, health and human services, schools, and other law enforcement agencies.

Community Members and Groups – Police forge partnerships with people who live and work in the community.

Nonprofits and Service Providers – Police often partner with entities such as support groups, issue and advocacy organizations, and the faith-based community.

Private Businesses – Police develop partnerships with the small business community, large corporations, and local chamber of commerce and visitors bureaus.

Media – Police develop partnerships with local newspapers, television outlets, radio stations, and bloggers.

Community Partnerships

Community policing encourages interactive partnerships between law enforcement agencies, their officers, and the people they serve. By leveraging connections within the community, police are better positioned to solve public safety problems. Learn More »

Scanning – Officers identify and prioritize problems, determine the nature of the problem, and the scope of the problem.

Analysis – Officers research what is known about the problem to gain a thorough understanding of all possible contributing factors.

Response – Officers develop solutions to bring about lasting reductions in the number and extent of problems.

Assessment – Officers evaluate the success of the response and make adjustments as necessary.

Using the crime triangle – Officers look for vulnerabilities in the crime triangle. Problems can be solved by disrupting the relationship among the victim, offender, and location.

Problem Solving

Community policing officers are encouraged to proactively identify problems, develop innovative responses, and evaluate the results. Crime fighting is more proactive than reactive. Learn More »

Agency Management – Community policing requires law enforcement executives to incorporate community policing ideals into all areas of an agency.

Organizational Structure – A community policing structure provides line-level officers with decision-making authority and accountability.

Personnel – Community policing ideals are incorporated into all personnel practices including recruitment, hiring, section, training, and evaluations.

Information Systems and Technology – Technology plays a central role in providing access to accurate community information and enhancing two-way communication.

Organizational Features

A variety of organizational features and characteristics help support community policing partnerships and problem-solving efforts. Learn More »

Community Policing in Action — Success Stories from the Field

Washington, D.C., Community Policing Philosophy

The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. restructured their philosophy in order to increase their effectiveness. This included taking a look at » Read More.

Lakewood, Ohio, Neighborhood Patrol Officer Program

The Neighborhood Patrol Officer (NPO) program is the Lakewood Police Department’s approach to community policing. Officers assigned to each ward of the city in » Read More.

Waterbury, Connecticut, Balancing Proactive and Reactive Policing

The Waterbury, Connecticut, Police Department attempts to change the stereotype of how police officers are generally viewed by the public. Some of the commu » Read More.

Miami, Florida, Do The Right Thing

The Miami Police Department’s “Do The Right Thing” (DTRT) program promotes a simple concept of rewarding children for “doing the right thing”, and has served » Read More.

Chicago, Illinois, CeaseFire Program

CeaseFire Chicago recruits and trains a new cadre of workers called "violence interrupters." A former gang leader, now a supervisor for the program, decided » Read More.

Des Plaines, Illinois, Senior Citizen Academy

Des Plaines, Illinois, is a suburb of Chicago with a population of 58,000 people. The senior citizen population is larger than that of school-age children. » Read More.

New Brighton, Minnesota, Neighborhood Oriented Policing

For the past 12 years, the New Brighton Department of Public Safety (DPS) has employed its Neighborhood Oriented Policing (NOP) strategy to increase the effec » Read More.

Richmond, Virginia, Crime Sweep

Richmond Crime Sweep is a partnership of law enforcement agencies that was formed to improve the quality of life for residents by targeting the most viole » Read More.

Delray Beach, Florida, Police Department

In the 1990s, Delray Beach, Florida experienced an influx in Haitian immigrants and with it a new subculture. Dominating this subculture were criminal element » Read More.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, Volunteer Unit

Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina and the seat of Mecklenburg County. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) serves a population of » Read More.

Macon, Georgia, Downtown Bike Patrol

The Macon Police Bike Patrol office decided to relocate their duties to the City’s downtown area which is a high-traffic and high-pedestrian area. They wanted » Read More.

Salem, Massachusetts, Community Policing During Special Events

Salem, Massachusetts is known as “Witch City,” and is inextricably linked to Halloween, which has become a month-long celebration in the town. The Operations » Read More.

Hawthorne, California, Coffee with a Cop

The Hawthorne Police Department wanted to figure out a better way of communicating with the people they serve, and what's better than enjoying a nice cup of c » Read More.

Columbia, Missouri, Customer Service-Oriented Policing

Columbia, Missouri, is a college town with a vibrant community, a large student population, and a thriving downtown business district. Police Chief Ken Burt » Read More.

Evanston, Illinois, Safer Neighborhood Area Project

In 2010, the Evanston Police Department was awarded the IACP’s Community Policing award for agencies serving a population of 50,001-100,000. In Evanston, the » Read More.

Racine, Wisconsin, Community Oriented Policing Houses

Nearly 20 years ago, the Racine Police Department embraced community policing and changed how their department delivered police services to the community they » Read More.

  • Skills and Abilities

    Being an effective community policing officer involves a unique blend of skills. Learn what makes a good community policing officer and explore ways to you can develop the needed skills.
    Learn More »

  • Resources

    Ready to learn more about community policing? Check out our list of additional reading and resources.
    Learn More »