This article describes a research project determining the perceptions of policing by the police and the public in Poland.
In 1999, the Polish police introduced a new organizational structure, which would bring police officers closer to the public. More police officers were to be deployed to the districts and the police stations, and more police officers were to be allocated to work on the streets. In this study, questionnaires were distributed to a representative sample of police officers, college students, politicians, and media representatives. An analysis of over 2,000 questionnaires in three cities was conducted. The questionnaire was designed to measure the degree of understanding of the role of the police in a democratic society as perceived by both the public and the police. One goal was to identify initial obstacles to the successful implementation of community oriented policing. An assumption was that the Polish police and the community were not necessarily ready for this transformation. Results showed that there was a lack of desire to implement the philosophy of community oriented policing by police organizations, police officers, and students. While there were differences in the perception of the role of a police officer in a democratic society, definitions, and interpretations of the term related to the philosophy, the most important finding seemed to be lack of desire to take part in the implementation process. The first steps to attempt to change this attitude are to define, explain, survey, analyze, evaluate, design a plan, and train. Clear understanding is the fundamental base to a successful implementation of any plan that cannot be executed successfully without proper training of the people involved. Future longitudinal studies exploring how to tackle obstacles and mobilize support for community oriented policing should be conducted. 10 tables, 1 notes, 25 references, appendix