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Community Policing

Community Policing

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Communitypolicing
709
Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management,Vol. 25 No. 4, 2002, pp. 709-725.
#
MCB UP Limited, 1363-951XDOI 10.1108/13639510210450640
Community policing:training, definitions and policyimplications
Sutham Cheurprakobkit
 Department of Sociology, Geography and Anthropology, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, USA
Keywords 
Police, Community relations, Training 
Abstract 
This study surveyed 198 police officers of a single police department in Texasregarding their attitudes about the practice of community-oriented policing (COP) and itscharacteristics. Training on COP, rather than training duration, was found to affect officers’ attitudes toward accepting COP programs. Using Cordner’s four definitive dimensions of community policing (i.e. philosophical, strategic, tactical, and organizational) as a model, findingsindicate that officers have familiarized themselves with the tactical dimension the most, especiallythe police-citizen partnership and problem-solving elements, while giving lowest priority to theinformation element of the organizational dimension. Others including the broader police function, personal service, and positive interaction elements are also less emphasized. The studyreveals several problems the officers see as setbacks in implementing community policing and concludes that all of the COP characteristics must be looked at in the context of a whole systemrather than as separate individual elements.
Introduction
Despitethe increasing popularity of community-oriented policing (COP)amonglaw enforcement agencies in the USA, one of the basic challenges lawenforcement officials have confronted is that of defining the term. A well-known definition of COP was given by Trojanowicz and Buequeroux (1990,p.5):
Community policing is a new philosophy of policing, which emphasizes the workingpartnershipbetween police officers and citizens in creativeways in orderto solve communityproblemsrelating to crime,fearof crime,andneighborhooddisorders.
Maybe it is the term ``philosophy’’ that makes COP remain many things tomany people. The term philosophy, among other things, is defined as the set of values of an individual or culture (Davies, 1979, p. 532) or as personal attitude(Morehead and Morehead, 1981, p. 397). Therefore, the attempts by many lawenforcement officials to define the term COP and develop its programs producea number of nonuniform programs, which vary in terms of both the name andthecontent ofthe programs.One of the remedies to bring all law enforcement officials to familiarizethemselves with COP is through training. Training and education is an
T h e c u r r e n t i s s u e a n d f u l l t e x t a r c h i v e o f t h i s j o u r n a l i s a v a i l a b l e a t
h t t p ://w w w .e m e r a ld i n s ig h t .c o m /1 3 6 3 -9 5 1 X .h t m
This paper was presented at the 2000 annual meeting of the Southwestern Association of Criminal Justice (SWACJ) in El Paso, Texas. The author would like to thank the editor and thereferees for their helpful and constructive comments on the earlier draft of this article.
 
PIJPSM25,4
710
essential element if the implementation of COP activities is to be successful(Zhao
et al 
., 1995) because COP philosophy implies fundamental changes inmany areas of policing. Such changes (e.g. strategic, tactical, or organizational)not only affect the way the police respond to crime, butthe way they search forcrime solutions. Given the complicated and dynamic nature of COP, anyfundamental changes that COP may bring must be addressed and discussedthoroughly. Palmiotto
et al 
. (2000) suggest that philosophy and fundamentalsofCOPshould beincorporatedinto all aspects ofpolice recruittraining.Although training on COP has been provided to law enforcement officers todate, there is little evidence shown as to how training affects the way policeofficers understandanddefine COP. Thepurposesofthisstudyare:to examine the impact COP training has on officers’ acceptance of COPimplementation andsome obstacles to it; andto find some prominentlyshared characteristics of COPbytheofficers.Four major dimensions of COP introduced by Cordner (1998) were applied tostudy the latter goal. Knowing how officers define COP is significant for atleast threereasons. First, it would bedifficult for COP to succeed unless officersparticipatingin COP programsunderstandall dimensions andelements of COPand how each one affects the others. Second, changing in fundamentals meanschanging in resource allocation. Finally, varied understanding of the COPphilosophy among officers may call for new and innovative policies on the partofpolice executives.
Training on community-oriented policing
Amongthe manychallenges USlaw enforcementis confrontingasit adoptstheCOP philosophy into its practice is one focusing on the quality training of itsofficers. The COP philosophy requires many fundamental changes, some of which ± such as empowerment, partnership, and problem solving ± arenecessary for its success. Proper COP training must be a mandatory activitybeforeany ofthese changesoccur.Zhao
et al 
. (1995) surveyed police executives nationwide regarding theirattitudes toward COP training and education, as well as the impediments toCOP implementation. They found that police departments viewed training andeducation as facilitators to COP implementation. In particular, training incommunity relations, the training of mid-managers to facilitate the transitionfrom traditional policing toward COP, and the training of all the personnel toimproveoverall performanceskills, in that order, were considered top priorities(Zhao
et al 
., 1995). With regard to obstacles to COP implementation, internalorganizational barriers (e.g. mid-managers’ and line officersresistance,understanding of COP philosophy, and lack of COP training) were found to bemore problematic than external barriers (e.g. insufficient support fromcommunityandlocal governmentofficials)(Zhao
et al 
.,1995).Examiningtheorganizationalchangesofpolice departmentspracticing COPover time, Zhao
et al 
. (1999)conducted a longitudinal panel study by surveying
 
Communitypolicing
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the same sample they studied previously in 1993 and found a significantincrease in COP activities (such as neighborhood watch; home securityeducation; use of citizen surveys and storefront stations) among these policedepartments in recent years. In the training area, Zhao
et al 
. (1999) found thatpolice chiefs surveyed in both studies maintained a high level of interest in allof the training topics. Also, although not apparently clear, the training toenhance officers’ overall performance skills for problem solving has becomemore focused and specialized (i.e. more police chiefs selected the item ``middlemanagement authority delegation’over the factor ``middle managementskills’’)[1]. Zhao
et a
. (1999) concluded that while American communitypolicing in many agencies remained a trial and error phase, one indication isclear ± thereis continuedmovementtowardtheCOPmodel.McLaughlin and Donahue (1995) stated that COP training confronts manychallenges. First, COP training differs from traditional police training, whichtends to be rigid and strictly conformed to law, policies, and procedures.Second, it must filter from the top down, meaning that all politicians, cityofficials, and police executives involved in the process must understand andsupport its goals, and that these people should, at sometime, attend training.Third,althoughCOP andtraditional police trainingrequirecarefully developedlesson plans, apparent differences exist. Components of COP training take intoaccount specific community needs and the likelihood of success in meetingthose needs, therefore requiring updated public input and innovative andproactive thinking on the part of police planners. In contrast, traditional policetraining is developed in accordance with department protocol and oftenemphasizes any potential liability issues. Delivery of COP training must alsodeviate from the behavioral/teacher-centered to adult education approaches(i.e.learner-centered) because COP requires police officers to be more versatile andmore human-oriented due to the increasing numbers and magnitude of public-police encounters. Fourth, it is difficult to determine whether COP training isused bysupervisorsand officers, andwhetherit improvestheir performance.Inother words, proper evaluation is needed to find out whether the police areimplementing theprogramor just payinglip service.Empirical evidence shows that practicing COP without receiving COPtraining could greatly compromise the desirable goals. For instance, Kratcoskiand Noonan (1995, p. 183) studied attitudes of rank-and-file officers from thetwo police departments that did not receive COP training before implementingCOP programs and found that many of the participating officers did notunderstand COP programs,and many of the officers’ responses appeared to be``guarded, noncommittal, or negative.’’ The results of their study showed that63.3 percent of the officers of one department stated the Mini-Station Programwas not important and that 60.6 percent of officers of the other departmentbelieved the same. Kratcoski and Noonan (1995) suggest training in COP be apartof theacademy program.There is no doubt that COP training is a key factor affecting the success orfailure of COP programs. Given the elastic and dynamic nature of the COP

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