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Community Policing Defined

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2009
16 pages
This publication addresses community policing as a model for organizational transformation.
This document provides an overview model of definitions and model strategies for successful community policing. Seven themes are explored: community partnerships; organization transformation; agency management; organizational structure; personnel; information systems (technology); and problem-solving. Community policing is defined as a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime. Community policing relies on collaborative partnerships between the law enforcement agency and the individuals and organizations they serve to develop solutions to problems and increase trust in police; the alignment of organization management, structure, personnel, and information systems to support community partnerships and proactive problem-solving efforts must be achieved. It is important that the organizational structure of the agency ensures that local patrol officers have decisionmaking authority and are accountable for their actions. This can be achieved through long-term assignments, the development of officers who are generalists and using special units appropriately. Community policing emphasizes proactive problem solving in a systematic and routine fashion. A major conceptual vehicle for helping officers to think about problem-solving in a structured and disciplined way is the Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment (SARA) problem-solving model. Finally police organizations should focus on factors that are within their reach, such as limiting criminal opportunities and access to victims, increasing guardianship, and associating risk with unwanted behavior.