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Community Policing Evaluated by the Community (From Evaluating Community Policing, P 167-192, 2003, Tom Van den Broeck, Christian Eliaerts, eds., -- See NCJ-203040)

NCJ Number
Tom Van den Broeck
Date Published
26 pages
This article focuses on an evaluation study on how the public appreciates the policy of community policing and the local governance of crime.
Community policing is considered not as a clear cut program that has to meet defined goals, but rather as process of change in organization. Evaluation should be seen as monitoring whether or not the current changes bring the process to its ideal conceptualization and not whether it has been successful or not. In 1999, research was conducted on the opinions of the citizens of two Belgian cities, Antwerp and Mechelen, about the policing and security policy in their cities. These opinions were obtained using the methodology of focus group interviews. Regarding neighborhood problems, it appeared that personal conflicts was a main reason for feeling unsafe in the neighborhood. Residents in both cities criticized the lack of a coherent vision by police top management and local authorities concerning police and security policy. Despite the official discourse of a neighborhood oriented police service, community policing remained underdeveloped. A lack of training and supervision seemed to be the main reasons for that. Residents in Mechelen highlighted the difficulties in exchanging information between the neighborhood patrols and the rest of the police service. With regard to the improvement of relations with the police, residents experienced the openness of the police toward the public as selective. The focus groups confirmed that criminality constitutes a part of the social problems that threaten the security and habitability in the city and that demand an appropriate policy. Instead of a local governance of crime, there is perhaps a need for better local government that stops the degradation of the neighborhood and improves the quality of life. Residents in both cities observed that most policing remained embedded in a traditional crime fighting style with little interest for the local situation. Community policing is supposed to derive from a balanced mix of problem-oriented policing and community-oriented policing. Problem-oriented policing tends to dominate, which means the police define the problems to be tackled. 60 references