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Student Question

Do you think that community policing is effective? Would you support the community policing model as a police chief? Do you think patrol officers believe in the community policing model? Do you think that citizens believe in the community policing model? Provide examples of situations where this model of policing is both effective and ineffective.

Expert Answers

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Whether community policing is effective or not depends first on the community, then on the reputation of the police. Broadly speaking, community policing will be most effective in a community that is already relatively law-abiding and well-ordered and in which most people are supportive of the police. Such communities may well already have schemes like the Neighborhood Watch or Town Watch schemes, which work in partnership with the police to fight crime.

Whether a police chief should support the community policing model, and whether the police officers will be likely to believe in it, depends on whether the community is of the type described above or has reasonable potential to become such a community. A fairly lawless neighborhood may still have certain key individuals who are widely respected and might be persuaded to work in partnership with the police. Such people are often able to persuade the rest of the community to regard the police as allies rather than enemies when direct campaigns by the police would be doomed to failure.

Essentially, the community policing model is effective in places where most people trust the police and ineffective where they do not. The public image of the police (and the conduct on which it is based) is vital. Citizens who view the police as corrupt and institutionally racist, for instance, are never going to embrace community policing. The police need to have a reputation for fairness and integrity if the community policing model is to work anywhere.

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