In spite of the fact that the United States still exceeds many other industrialized nations in overall crime and violent crime, it has been effective in decreasing its crime rate, particularly during the 1990s. While some coalitions have attributed this positive development to changes in socio-demographic trends and rigid enforcement approaches, one coalition highlights the success of the community-oriented policing and problem-oriented policing in eradicating the root causes of crime (Stephens, 2003).
While I don’t believe that community oriented policing in the sole cause of decreased crime rates I do believe that it has its positive and negative sides. Community oriented policing is based on the complete cooperation between the community and the police from the top managers in the department to the lowest officer in the department as well as all members of the community. Through the establishment of this partnership, the police and the community exchange information with another and work together in formulating and implementing solutions to resolve recurrent problems (Aberdeen, n. d. ).
A related approach to community oriented policing, problem oriented policing involves the use of S. A. R. A. (scanning, analysis, response, assessment) to resolve problems in a methodical process. The objective of problem oriented policing is to utilize a systematic process to identify recurrent problems and analyze their underlying causes in order to formulate cost-effective solutions (“Problem Solving – SARA,” 2003). This is one approach that I do believe is an effective style of policing as it allows the officers to use scientific method approach to address current crime trends and deter them as needed.
For the remainder of the paper, the approaches of community oriented policing, problem oriented policing and S. A. R. A. and their interrelationships will be described and discussed in greater detail. The assessment of the effectiveness of these approaches in reducing crime will also be provided. As described, community oriented policing is based on the establishment of a partnership between the police and the community. With this approach, both the police and the community are expected to adopt new perspectives about their roles with regard to law enforcement.
Community oriented policing gives the community a chance to demonstrate what is important to them and provide feedback to law enforcement to allow them to effect enforce that laws that the citizen feel are most important. In community oriented policing, members of the community are challenged to take responsibility for addressing the problems within the community and improving the quality of life. In community policing, police officers are asked to move beyond their conventional enforcement of the law to work with the community in identifying new solutions in order to resolve problems within the community.
Ideally, the cooperation between the police, members of the community and other governmental institutions is designed to bring together a wide range of resources that will allow them to eliminate problems. In many ways, community oriented policing can be considered to represent a radical shift away from the traditional law enforcement approach. To highlight the differences between these approaches, Stephens (1994) employed the “war” and “peace” models (p. 27). According to Stephens (1994), the traditional approach of law enforcement is characterized by the police’s treatment of a community as though “it were enemy territory” (p. 7). Police officers only enter the community in order to search for criminals and make arrests. Positive interactions with law-abiding members of the community are so minimal that the community regards the police as a hostile outside force that encroaches on its territory (Stephens, 1994). It is fair to say that any increasing population of people are losing trust in the police and community policing seems to be an appropriate response to allow the community to join forces with the police.
I believe that community policing it failing in many cities due to lack of cooperation from both the citizens and the police. The public does not want to be associated with the police while at the same time the police don’t want to change from traditional policing styles that allow them to have all the power and authority. On the contrary, the peace model that is represented by community oriented policing is founded on the importance of cooperation and unity. With this model, both the community and the police come together, based on their agreement on the fundamental values that should be advocated by society.
Together, they seek to identify effective ways for dealing with socially deviant activities that diminish the quality of life within the community. What is important to emphasize is that unlike the war model, no specific group tries to impose its norms and practices on the other group. Unless the criminal activities place the members of the community in serious danger, both parties – the police and the community – strive to work together with one another to achieve a satisfactory solution.
Stephens (1994) pointed out that the COP constitutes a reversion to the role of the police during the nineteenth century. In the previous century, police officers were highly familiar with neighborhood issues through frequent interactions with members in the community and sought their help in resolving crimes. During the last decade, communication between the police and the community has been reopened by utilizing neighborhood councils and meetings and crime watch organizations. Police officers on foot patrols are also able to gain a closer understanding of the needs of the community they serve.
The problem with this model is that it is difficult for police departments to dedicate officer to public relations while there are serious crimes that need to be prevented. The idea of the public reporting crimes to the police in a community meeting is acceptable but in many cases especially with the current economic crisis that we are facing, it is impossible for police departments to have officers strictly assigned to community police. As discussed earlier without full cooperation from both sides the practice of community police is ineffective.
The community policing plan created by the City of Aberdeen in Maryland provides a good example of how the partnership between the police and members of the community can be effective for dealing with crimes. In order to promote the police and community’s adoption of these new roles, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Community Policing Institute (MARCPI), along with the Johns Hopkins University, will offer training to the police and the community. Both the police and the community have to learn how to change their thinking processes in order to deal with the problems in a proactive way, instead of the conventional reactive fashion.
Through the training sessions, the members of the community, the police officers and city department heads will acquire the skills and knowledge for addressing problems. The involvement of the city department heads and other related employees is important in identifying the city resources that can support the eradication of the problems within the community (Aberdeen, n. d. ). Although these two concepts – problem oriented policing and S. A. R. A. — are discussed separately from community oriented policing, they constitute integral components of COP.
In fact, the concepts of COP and POP are often combined to forms COPPS – community oriented policing and problem solving (Peak & Glensor, 2004). Because the emphasis of the COP approach is to identify problems and analyze the underlying causes in order to formulate effective solutions, the POP approach is part and parcel of COP. The S. A. R. A model is simply one of the different systematic models used by the police and the community to solve problems. In the following section, the four sequential components of S. A. R. A will be examined individually – scanning, analysis, response and assessment.
The purpose of scanning is to categorize similar or related problems into various clusters based on the study of police data and contributions from members of the community. While no specific criteria are proposed for the inclusion of problems, scanning enables the police and the community to hone in on recurring problems that have remain unabated for a number of months. The identification of this type of problem is important in enabling the police and the community to allocate resources appropriately to address chronic problems, instead of short-term ones (“Problem Solving – SARA,” 2003).
During the analysis phase, the police and community participants delve into the selected problem and explore its underlying causes. More specifically, analysis involves pinpointing the specific features and effects of the problem in detail. The type of information that is gathered during the analysis phase includes: Information of the perpetrators and the victims; Patterns of occurrences in terms of time and location; Aspects of the physical environment; Background of the problem from a historical perspective; Possible causes of the problem.
During this phase, police and other related professionals will need to solicit the help of various members within the community to obtain a strong understanding of the problem. For example, information from various institutions such as insurance companies, hospitals and schools will be important in helping them to grasp the nature of the problem (“Problem Solving – SARA,” 2003). For example, in dealing with gang crimes, the police department often engages in gang crime intelligence analysis to interpret information obtained from the community in order to determine how to implement various types of interventions.
In particular, the integration of the geographical mapping of the data from citizen surveys and the police’s identification of the “hot spots” based on gang-related calls can help police departments to monitor the shifts in gang activity. This type of analysis is known as locational analysis that is ideal for tracking gang activity that is characterized by the takeovers of territory (“Intelligence Analysis of Gang Crime,” 2005; Webb ; Katz, 2003). Another commonly used tool that is employed during this phase of S. A. R. A. s called the Problem Analysis Triangle (PAT). PAT analyzes incidents based on three key aspects: a) the characteristics of the location of the crime; b) the characteristics of the caller/victim; and c) the characteristics of the perpetrator. The focused analysis of the incidents on these three aspects can help the police to determine how they intersect to create the problem (“Problem Solving – SARA,” 2003). The response phase occurs when police and the community implement the action to resolve the problem identified in the analysis.
Depending on the analysis of the problem, the police and the community may choose to hone in on the element that can most easily be resolved or pool their resources at the community level to deal with the situation. The formulation of the most effective response will be dependent on the work done in the scanning and analysis phases (“Problem Solving – SARA,” 2003). The purpose of the assessment stage is for the police and the community to evaluate their attempts at resolving the problem.
Through this process, the police and the community can determine whether they need to continue to invest resources in dealing with the problem, should it persist. This reflective process will also help the police and the community to enhance their problem-solving skills by heightening their awareness of their effort in resolving this problem. It is possible that the police and the community can apply similar strategies to a different problem. Finally, the assessment of the problem-solving process can serve as an acknowledgement of the contribution of the police and the community (“Problem Solving – SARA,” 2003).
In order to conduct a comprehensive assessment, the police and the community need to address the following areas. First, the problem that is being targeted and the solution need to be described clearly. Second, the actual implementation of the solution needs to be described as the discrepancies between the planned and actual implementation can affect the outcome. Third, the police and the community will need to determine whether failure to achieve the intended outcome is due to the solution in itself, or the failure of the implementation.
Finally, a variety of data that allows for a comparison of the problem before and after the implementation of the solution will need to be gathered (“Problem Solving – SARA,” 2003). To assess the effectiveness of COPPS, two types of data have been selected. First of all, the Heritage Center’s analysis of the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program will be used to provide an overview of the implementation of a COPPS program (Davis, Mulhausen, Ingram & Rector, 2000). Second, examples of the successful implementation of COPPS in dealing with various problems in different communities across the country will be presented.
With the latter type of data, a close examination of the implementation of the COPPS will demonstrate how this approach has been executed successfully. The discussion of these data in terms of their assessment of the effectiveness of COPPS will offer a final evaluation. The data offered by Davis et al. (2000) were important in demonstrating whether the police departments have utilized funding for COPPS programs effectively to eradicate crime. According to Davis et al. (2000), the COPS program has not been successful in achieving the desired outcome for several reasons.
First of all, some police departments had failed to allocate COPS funds for COPS programs. Rather, these funds had been allocated for other purposes. Similarly, the COPS grants that were distributed to police departments to allow them to hire clerical staff so that police officers would be performing COPS, in lieu of doing clerical work, did not lead to the redeployment of the officers. Second, Davis et al. (2000) also found that police departments that were given a significant amount of COPS funds did not use the money to hire new police officers.
For example, Atlanta that received a total of $11 million for hiring new officers between 1993 and 1997 actually had 75 less officers by 1998. Third, the COPS funding had only been allocated to less than one-fourth of the communities served by the police departments. More specifically, approximately 47 percent of the COPS funding provided for 315 agencies that serviced jurisdictions with more than 100,000 persons during the 1993-1997 period were given to just ten police departments.
However, these police departments only dealt with 21 percent of the population of the 315 communities. In addition, the police officers only handled 24 percent of the reported violent crimes (Davis et al. , 2000). Finally, Davis et al. (2000) also reported that the communities receiving the largest COPS funding had the lowest crimes. What the aforementioned findings imply is that COPPS could not have been implemented effectively because of the misallocation of the funding and resources.
Regardless of the inherent effectiveness of the COPPS approach in dealing with crime, its potential effectiveness has not been achieved due to the police department’s diversion of funds to other purposes and the distribution of funds to police departments that do not experience high levels of crimes. The actions of the police department thus indicate that high-ranking police officers do not support the COPPS approach. Therefore, it is evident that this report offers a negative assessment of the effectiveness of the COPPS approach.
On the other hand, Peak and Glensor (2004) argued that COPPS has been extremely effective in eradicating crime all over the country. In fact, the authors provided a wide variety of examples of how police in different cities in the country has been successful in collaborating with the community to address crimes ranging from drug violations to homelessness. Peak and Glensor’s (2004) detailed examination of the effective implementation of the COPPS in different cities offers tremendous insight into the resolution of these problems by using the COPPS approach, in contrast to the traditional law enforcement approach.
As an example, Peak and Glensor (2004) discussed how COPPS officers dealt with the problem of widespread drug violations. Typically, police officers respond to a citizen’s call about drug activity by simply arresting the perpetrator. However, the COPPS officers also engage in a thorough assessment of the situation. In this assessment, they take into consideration the locations of the drug activity, its characteristics and the perpetrators of the crime.
Based on these assessments, the COPPS officers implement a series of creative interventions and enlist the help of members of the community. For instance, police officers in West Palm Beach, Florida, distribute free drug test kits to parents in order to test their children. In other cities, COPPS police officers situate themselves near the dwellings of drug dealers and interrupt their dealings by repeatedly knocking on their doors and making their presence known. Moreover, police officers and citizens work together in documenting down license plate number of drug dealers and sellers.
Even more importantly, officers open various lines of communication via the cell phone, the Internet and organizations such as Neighborhood Watch to exchange intelligence information. Essentially, by forging a close connection with the local community, COPPS officers make it a common practice for law-abiding community members to provide information to the police officers. To address the problem of alcohol-related crimes in Portland, Oregon, Peak and Glensor (2004) pointed out that the police was able to hone in on a specific type of beverage that was responsible for triggering the eruption of crimes.
Apparently, large 32-oz and 40-oz containers of fortified wine carried by neighborhood stores and large chain stores were instrumental in contributing to the outbreak of alcohol-related crimes. Based on the police’s assessment of the situation, over 100 stores in the city volunteered to remove any alcoholic beverage containers that are 16 oz or larger from their facilities. As a result of their actions, alcohol-related crimes were reduced by 50 percent. Finally, the COPPS approach has also been utilized effectively to deal with the problem of domestic violence.
While police agencies have traditionally dismissed the crime as a private family dispute or simply arrested the assailants, COPPS police officers have been trained to adopt a far more comprehensive approach. For example, a police department in Georgia offers specialized training to county process servers so that the latter can provide the needed support to domestic violence survivors. Apart from helping individual domestic violence survivors, police can also increase the awareness of the community about the severity of the crime and solicit the involvement of a wide variety of social agencies.
By adopting this integrated approach, the police department can help to generate the necessary support and resources for the domestic violence victims and their families, as well as decrease their occurrence (Peak & Glensor, 2004). Based on the above discussion, it is evident that the COPPS approach can be highly effective in eradicating crimes by addressing the underlying causes. By enlisting the help of the community and the government agencies, the police is able to pool together tremendous resources to help them deal with widespread recurrent problems.
However, it is important to point out that the COPPS approach does have its limitations because it will be ineffective with violent crimes committed by hardened criminals. Therefore, the COPPS approach should only be considered as one of many different law enforcement strategies that should be targeted at specific types of crimes as identified by Peak and Glensor (2004). Essentially, in certain instances, the traditional law enforcement strategy will still need to be used in order to ensure the safety of the community.
Another issue with the COPPS approach is its requirement of the extensive commitment of all the stakeholders – the police, members of the community and the local agencies. Without obtaining the necessary assistance from all these stakeholders, the COPPS approach will not be successful in obtaining the desired outcomes. As seen in the study conducted by Davis et al. (2000), police departments obtaining grants to operate the COPS programs choose to divert their funding for alternative purposes.
This fact suggests that heads of police departments may not support the COPPS approach. Moreover, members of the community must also be willing to take on greater roles in increasing the quality of life for their community. In conclusion, the discussion of the COPPS approach and S. A. R. A. has illuminated the unique characteristics of this law enforcement approach. Representing a significant shift from the traditional law enforcement approach, the COPPS approach entails a close partnership between the police and the community.
Even more importantly, it requires a transformation of the mindsets of both police departments and the members of the community. Instead of treating the other as the enemy or the outsider, they must be willing to collaborate with one another in addressing problems within the community. Ultimately, the effectiveness of the COPPS approach will be dependent on the willing participation of all the police and the community. Otherwise, in spite of the inherent effectiveness of this approach, it will not produce the desired outcomes.