Community Policing | National Police Foundation

Community Policing

Acceptance of constructive change by police and the community is central to the purpose of the Police Foundation. From its inception, the foundation has understood that to flourish, police innovation requires an atmosphere of trust, a willingness to experiment and exchange ideas both within and outside the police structure, and, perhaps most importantly, a recognition of the common stake of the entire community in better police services.

The Police Foundation has done much of the research that has led to a questioning of the traditional model of professional law enforcement and toward a new view of policing–one emphasizing a community orientation–that is widely embraced today.

It was in Kansas City that the foundation learned, in a practical test, that random preventive patrol may not be the best way to deter crime. It was the foundation that was among the first to learn that shortening police response time may have little effect on the chances of a burglar or robber being caught. It was also the foundation, working jointly with the police in Houston and Newark, that began to see the advantages of foot patrol and door-to-door surveys as a way of dealing with the public’s fear of crime and disorder. It is from the foundation’s Newark Foot Patrol experiment that the “broken windows” theory is derived.

What this, and other, research revealed is that there are strategies–several of them new, some of them used in the past but discarded–that can reduce levels of perceived crime and disorder, reduce fear and concern about crime, improve satisfaction with police service, increase satisfaction with neighborhoods, and, in some cases, reduce crime itself. By staying in close contact with neighborhoods they serve, the police can identify problems at the local level, and, working with residents, respond to them.

The name for the model of policing that has emerged varies: in some places it is called community or community-oriented policing, in other places, problem-oriented policing. However it is labeled, it tends to be based on some commonly shared beliefs:

  • It is the job of the police to cope with problems, not just respond to incidents.
  • Among the problems with which the police should be concerned are those involving disorder and incivility as well as those involving serious crime
  • Reducing crime and disorder requires that the police work cooperatively with people in neighborhoods to (1) identify their concerns, (2) solicit their help, and (3) solve their problems.
  • As the most visible local agency of government on duty 24-hours a day, the police must be willing to serve as catalysts to mobilize other city agencies and services.

The movement toward community policing has escalated dramatically in recent years, due in large part to the Federal government’s commitment of billions of dollars to hire and train 100,000 community policing officers. With assistance from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services of the U.S. Department of Justice and the national Community Policing Consortium, thousands of America’s police departments–large, medium, and small–are working to develop organizational philosophies and strategies for the implementation of community policing.

The Police Foundation is one of five leading national law enforcement organizations that joined in an unprecedented cooperative effort through the creation of the national Community Policing Consortium (CPC). Under a cooperative agreement with the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, these five organizations–the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Police Foundation, and the Police Executive Research Forum–played a principal role in the development of community policing research, training, and technical assistance.

Since 1993, the foundation has provided community policing education, training, and technical assistance to more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies and communities on issues such as internal changes and shifting paradigms, partnerships and diversity, strategic planning, ethics, and integrity.

Community policing research conducted by the Police Foundation are listed below.

The Dallas Experience (1971)

In 1971, the leadership of the Dallas Police Department wanted to redefine the role of the police in Dallas by identifying the basic needs of the Dallas community and restructuring police services to respond to those needs. The city was not to be viewed as a monolith requiring impersonal and undifferentiated service, but rather as distinctive areas where the problems differed from neighborhood to neighborhood. The department sought to increase the number of minority police officers and to place those officers in minority communities. The department and foundation were committed to the belief that individual police officers have as much personal stake in providing better services as do members of the communities in which officers work.

The Cincinnati Team Policing Experiment (1971)

Experimentation with team policing was a major recommendation of the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice in 1967. Neighborhood team policing was seen by many as a promising way to address problems of over-centralization and bureaucratization of police agencies and of an increasing sense of alienation of citizens and police. How can patrol forces best be organized for the most effective delivery of police services? The experiment focused attention on the need for police to become closer to the community and on some of the barriers that must be overcome to achieve this goal.

Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment (1972)

In 1972, the rationale of patrol–a basic police function–had never been adequately tested. Did patrol, in fact, effectively prevent crime, produce arrests, and reassure citizens? In experiments that emphasized citizen-police cooperation, the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department sought to determine whether its resources ordinarily allocated to preventive patrol could safely be devoted to other, perhaps more productive, strategies.

This landmark experiment showed that routine patrol had no significant effect on crime rates, citizen fear of crime, or citizen satisfaction with police services. Joseph McNamara, Kansas City Police Chief when the study was completed, noted, “The results of [this experiment] repudiated a tradition prevailing in police work for almost 150 years.”

Dayton Police Department (1972)

The foundation funded a project to develop departmental policies through joint citizen-police task forces.

Simi Valley Evaluation (1972)

The foundation supported a project to develop and implement community policing projects.

Team Policing: Seven Case Studies (1972)

This study examined, on a case-by-case basis, team policing as it existed in several cities in the early 1970s. Team policing differed from the style of policing found in most American cities at the time in the permanent assignment of a team of officers to a neighborhood. The major goals of team policing were to improve police-community relations and to reduce crime.

San Diego Community Profile (1973)

In 1975, the San Diego Police Department announced–in what may have been the first such public commitment of a police organization–that it would adopt community-oriented policing on a citywide basis. This announcement contained one of the earliest references to community-oriented policing.

The decision to undertake this fundamental reform in policing style stemmed from the department’s experience with a Police Foundation experiment–the Community Profile Development Project. The experiment provided a method and a perspective to guide patrol officers’ exercise of discretion and encouraged the development of innovative officer-initiated strategies based on the officer’s growing knowledge and critical self-evaluation of the efforts of their police work in the community.

Newark Foot Patrol Experiment (1981)

The results of this experiment suggest that while foot patrol may not reduce crime, it reduces citizen fear of crime. Residents see their communities as safer and better places to live, and are more satisfied with police services. The study’s conclusions reinforced the belief that citizens respond favorably to frequent, informal contact with police officers. Further, frequent police contacts with citizens can develop a reservoir of information–the lifeblood of policing–about a neighborhood which police must have if they are to be successful in controlling crime and maintaining order. It is from this study that the “broken windows” theory is derived.

Houston and Newark Fear Reduction Experiments (1986)

Fear of crime is often disproportionate to the reality of crime victimization. But fear of crime has very practical consequences. It imprisons citizens within their homes, dries up commercial activity in neighborhoods, isolates residents from one another, and abandons the streets to the very sort of criminal and disorderly behavior that feeds fear of crime initially.

This was the first study to test in a comprehensive way what the police can do, beyond traditional law enforcement activities, to reduce citizen fear of crime in city neighborhoods. This research demonstrated that there are strategies police can use to reduce levels of perceived crime and disorder, reduce attendant fear, heighten satisfaction with police services and neighborhoods, and, in some cases, reduce crime itself.

Community Institutions and Inner-City Crime (1987)

This project, which resulted in a major national conference, showed how community-based programs can help prevent crime by providing essential programs and services to communities in need.

Community Policing in Madison: Quality From the Inside, Out (1987)

This three-year study examined an innovative policing experiment undertaken by the Madison, Wisconsin, Police Department to create a new organizational design–structural and managerial–to support community-oriented and problem-oriented policing. Researchers found that the department’s attempt to bring progressive, comprehensive change to department operations was largely successful: employee attitudes toward work and the organization improved; physical decentralization was achieved; residents believed that crime had become less of a problem; and residents believed that police were working to resolve issues of importance to the neighborhood.

Baltimore City Community Policing Experiment (1988)

Under this field experiment, neighborhoods in two areas of the city–one predominantly middle-class and black, and the other predominantly blue-collar and white–were policed by different methods: door-to-door ombudsman policing, foot patrol, and conventional patrol. The results further proved the benefits of foot patrol and door-to-door contact with citizens by showing improved citizen perceptions of safety, crime, and police effectiveness.

Drug Trafficking in Oakland and Birmingham (1988)

This study focused on the effectiveness of community-oriented policing strategies for controlling street drug traffic.

Wingspread Conference on Community-Oriented Policing (1987)

In August 1987, forty-eight law enforcement professionals, researchers, and funding agency representatives met for two days at the Wingspread Conference Center in Racine, Wisconsin, for what has been called the first forum ever created specifically to explore community-oriented policing efforts. Convened by the Police Foundation with financial support from the Charles Stewart Mott and Robert Wood Johnson Foundations, the conference sought to encourage the growth of community policing by identifying areas of further inquiry.

Houston Neighborhood Policing Studies (1989)

This project was designed to assist the implementation of Houston’s neighborhood policing program, by examining and documenting organizational change from a paramilitary to a community orientation. In addition, a new personnel evaluation process in support of neighborhood-oriented policing in Houston was developed and tested.

New York Police Department Police Cadet Corps Evaluation (1990)

The impact of higher education levels for police has long been debated within the law enforcement profession, with proponents maintaining that more education results in better police officers. The foundation conducted an evaluation of the NYC Cadet Corps Program in an effort to determine if the program achieved its primary goals. Two of the program’s goals–increased minority representation and enhanced community orientation–were confirmed by the foundation’s evaluation.

New York City Police Department’s Model Precinct Program Evaluation (1990)

When the NYPD, under Commissioner Lee Brown, committed to the transition to community policing, the department decided to test the concept in a model precinct. The foundation documented and evaluated the project’s implementation.

Newark “Project Homestead” Evaluation (1991)

The foundation was asked by the Attorney General of New Jersey to evaluate a collaborative effort between the Newark Police Department and the New Jersey State Police to implement a community policing program to reduce drug trafficking and drug-related crime in Newark neighborhoods plagued by crime. Researchers found that the program resulted in improved visibility of police, and a significant improvement in perceptions of neighborhood conditions and attitudes, although no significant changes in recorded crime were noted.

Community Policing Strategies (1993)

In 1993, the foundation conducted a national survey to determine the number of departments in the U.S. that were implementing community policing or were planning to do so. The survey also sought to determine how community policing is defined operationally by the departments that espouse it and how it differs from more traditional forms of policing.

First-Line Supervision in the Community Policing Context (1994)

This project was designed to study the role of the first-line supervisor in community policing by (1) analyzing survey responses from first-line supervisors on their roles as they now exist; and (2) examining and identifying what the role of the first-line supervisor should be if stated goals of community policing are to be realized.

Atlantic City, New Jersey, Cooperative Policing Partnership (1994)

At the request of the Atlantic City Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), the foundation helped create a dynamic partnership designed to revitalize distressed city neighborhoods. Working with the CRDA, the city government, and the police department, the foundation developed and implemented a police officer-residency program to increase police presence in these neighborhoods. The foundation provided community policing training to resident officers to enhance their ability to provide effective services in the neighborhoods in which they lived.

Community Policing Consortium (1993-2007)

As a partner in the Community Policing Consortium, along with four other leading national law enforcement organizations, the foundation played a principal role in the development of community policing research, training, and technical assistance. Since 1993, the foundation has provided community policing education, training, and technical assistance to more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies and communities on the following topics: internal changes and shifting paradigms; partnerships and diversity; strategic planning; and ethics and integrity.

Abuse of Police Authority in the Age of Community Policing: What Police Say (1997)

Recently, as the country confronted some extreme cases of abuse of police authority, the foundation, with the assistance of a grant from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services of the US Department of Justice, gave a voice to police officers to speak out on these sensitive issues, by conducting a national survey, using a representative sample, of police attitudes to issues of abuse of authority in the age of community policing.

Problem Analysis in Policing (2003)

This report introduces and defines problem analysis and provides guidance on how problem analysis can be integrated and institutionalized into modern policing practices. This report is not a “how to” guide on conducting problem analysis, but is a summary of ideas and recommendations about what problem analysis is, what skills and knowledge are necessary to conduct it, and how it can be advanced by the police community, academia, the federal government, and other institutions. The ideas and recommendations in this report come primarily from a two-day forum conducted in February 2002 by the Police Foundation and the US Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), in which a group of academics, practitioners, and policy makers came together to discuss problem analysis and make recommendations for its progress. This report is a culmination of the concepts and ideas that were discussed in the forum and includes specific, relevant statements made by participants.