What is community policing? How important is citizen involvement in this type of policing? How can citizens help police?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Community policing is something that many police departments have tried to move towards in the last couple of decades.  It is a philosophy that holds that police departments and communities must work together in order to achieve law and order.  Because it is necessary for police departments and communities to work together, citizen involvement is extremely important for community policing.

There are two main ways in which citizens can and should be involved in community policing.  One way is through such things as neighborhood watch programs.  In programs like these, community members notify police when they see crimes or suspicious activity.  In this way, they help keep their communities safe.  However, citizen involvement in community policing needs to go far beyond this.  Citizens are supposed to help identify the issues that they want police to help with.  They are supposed to be, in a sense, in control of what the police do in their neighborhoods.  They are not just supposed to help the police by being the police’s eyes and ears.  Instead, they play a much greater role in determining how their neighborhoods will be policed.

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