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Rhetoric of Community Policing (From Community Policing: Rhetoric or Reality, P 239-258, 1988, Jack R Greene and Stephen D Mastrofski, eds. -- See NCJ-115735)

NCJ Number
C B Klockars
Date Published
20 pages
Although community policing has appealing goals, any claims that these goals can be accomplished are excessive and unrealistic.
Consideration of Bittner's analysis of the modern police function leads to the conclusion that community policing is mainly a rhetorical device that mystifies and conceals basic contradictions between reality and society's aspirations. Society hopes to achieve peace by peaceful means where that is not always possible and has given police the responsibility for using force and violence. In a society that has never been able to resolve its ambivalence about the police role, the police have always been vulnerable and have historically felt the need to justify themselves by expressing concepts that hide the true nature of their role. Thus, community policing represents a new circumlocution, replacing the past circumlocutions of legalization, militarization, and professionalism. Community policing involves several appealing but deceptive features, including police-community reciprocity, decentralization of command, the reorientation of patrol toward foot patrol and away from rapid response to calls for service, and civilianization. Nevertheless, the widespread appeal of its terminology may protect the concept of community policing from rigorous analysis or criticism.


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