“When you have police officers who abuse citizens, you erode public confidence in law enforcement. That makes the job for good police officers unsafe”Mary Frances Berry
Far too many people in the community are being harassed, brutally beaten, and even killed by police officers of all races. This exemplifies a common rationale of “us” vs. “them” and, as a result, the breakdown of crucial communication between police officers and the communities they serve. The image formed after the aftermath of the deadly shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has painted a troubling picture of law enforcement in the United States. Officers wore full riot gear and recorded firing tear gas and rubber bullets at mostly peaceful protesters (Alter 21). A report by the American Civil Liberties Union has expressed that “American policing has become unnecessarily and dangerously militarized, the government has armed state and local law enforcement agencies with the weapons and tactics of war…… The use of hyper-aggressive tools and tactics results in tragedy for civilians and police officers, escalates the risk of needless violence, destroys property and undermines individual liberties” (Bond 4). After the seemingly senseless killings of young black men by white police officers, and other events of police brutality that have transpired over the past few years, many scholars argue that a new approach is needed. The alternative that many Americans and politicians are suggesting is to equip officers with Point of View Cameras (POV), which are compact portable devices that will be carried by police officers intended to capture video/audio records of operational situations (Kay 31). However, as Richard Kay explains in “Technology and Operational Safety-Pros and Cons for Police Officers,” the repercussions of POV cameras seem to outweigh the positives (Kay 31). Clive Harfield, an investigator at the Centre of Excellence in Policing & Security, argues that it is imperative for police forces across the country to implement community policing in order to rebuild trust and begin to work towards an open dialogue with the people in the community. Matthew Scheider, Assistant Director of the United States Department of Justice, defines community policing as a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem solving techniques, in order to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues, such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime (Scheider, 1). By examining the recent history of increasing tensions between police officers and the communities that they serve, the positive and negative aspects of POV cameras, as well as how community policing can provide more effective communication and crime prevention in the communities police officers serve, this paper will show how POV cameras are not the most proactive approach to the crisis of repeated killings and police brutality that are sweeping the nation. This paper, instead, will show how 1) dialogue among police officers, local politicians, and residents can be crucial in preventing crime: how 2) Ferguson, Missouri has attempted to implement body cameras, but yet because of so much distrust between the community and police officers, the Ferguson Police Department is attempting to implement community policing; how 3) effective community action plans and community programs such as D.A.R.E. can be used to prevent crime; how 4) effective training of police officers can help preclude violence; and how 5) community policing will help the American criminal justice system reach its two important overall goals of public safety and punishing offenders.
TENSIONS BETWEEN POLICE AND THE COMMUNITY
“No justice, No respect,” was the chant that was heard throughout Ferguson, Missouri and/on TV sets across America. In Ferguson, Missouri Michael Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson (Love 1). Peaceful protests, looting, arson, and violent unrest then followed the incident (Love 1). The Missouri Police Department attempted to control the community by dressing in full riot gear, firing tear gas, rubber bullets, and bean bag rounds, while the people responded by throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails (Love 1). In response, the media and politicians scrutinized Ferguson Police Department about the way protestors were treated (Love 2). Scholars, too, expressed many concerns including how insensitive the police were to the community and the police department’s use of militarized response tactics to nullify the public outrage (Cuenca & Nichols 144). On November 24, 2014, a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Officer Wilson. Amnesty International then directed a team of human rights observers, trainers, and researchers to Ferguson, and this was the first time the organization positioned a team in the United States (Atler 10). In a press release, Amnesty International USA director Steven W. Hawkins said; “The U.S. cannot continue to allow those obligated and duty-bound to protect to become those who their community fears most (Alter 9).” Amnesty International also published a report declaring human rights abuses in Ferguson (Atler 9). The report painted an almost unbelievable picture of an American city irrationally acting out against protesters, which included acts of racial discrimination, excessive use of police force, the intimidation of protesters, restrictions imposed on the media covering the protests, and an overall lack of accountability for law enforcement policing protests and riots (Atler 15). The tensions between the police and the people of the community had been uneasy for a number of years, without proactive intervention by Police Departments, local politician’s across the nation, and subsequently tensions continue to get worse.
POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES OF POVs
Nevertheless, a substantial amount of outcry and public demand continue for a solution to cases where unarmed citizens have been killed by police officers (Vitle 1). Considering that tensions between police and the people have been brewing for decades, numerous experts argue that a quick fix is simply not sufficient (White 1). Captain Robert Arens, the Police Chief of Erlanger, Kentucky, and a proponent of POV video cameras, explains that the cameras can increase transparency of routine operations and reduce lawsuit claims against agencies (Jennings 550). Chief Erlanger is correct: transparency is very important because it can lead to trust between police departments and the public (Bush 15). Transparency, however, also involves the willingness of a police department to be open to scrutiny (White 16). Furthermore, transparency can demonstrate that police officers strive to act in a just manner and, as a result, promote perceptions of police legitimacy (White 19). Yet, the mere presence of a camera cannot guarantee transparency. Transparency also must include the release of data about arrests, as well as statistics about complaints against the police department (White 18). The release of all of this type of information and statistics is necessary in order to build communication and trust between police officers and the community (White 18).
POV camera research is still in its infancy; however, research on the cameras suggest that the use of POV cameras has decreased the number of times officers have resorted to using force, as well as the number of times citizens have complained about police behavior (Jennings 550). Research has been conducted by The Arizona Police Department on body-worn cameras from October 2012 to September 2013. This study has reported a forty percent decrease in complaints, as well as a seventy-five percent decrease in use of force incidents across the police force (Mesa Police Department, 2013). Findings also suggest that POV cameras may reduce the likelihood that community members will file untruthful complaints against police officers (Mesa Police Department, 2013). In addition, supporters also suggest, but have no evidence to prove, that the POVs enhance the officer’s ability to determine whether a crime has occurred, and increases the likelihood that cases will end in a guilty plea rather than a criminal trial (Kay 36). Moreover, POV cameras can follow officers into private residences, which is way further than any traditional patrol car camera can go to protect the officers (Jennings 549). The added amount of coverage may allow the officer to better recall information in trails, rather than having to rely on notes and memory (Kay 32). Others argue that POV cameras will add to police efficiency by reducing the report documentation workload, while increasing accuracy and accountability (Kay 32). Although advancements in technology have allowed police forces, as well as, doctors, educators, and other professionals the ability to make advancements within their perspective fields, adding a camera with a voice recorder is not the answer to the unrest on the streets of America (Kay 31). With tensions and mistrust of law enforcement already high across the nation, POVs have the ability to create further speculation, debate, and repercussions therefore, defeating its intended purpose.
The nation has recently experienced serious repercussions at the hands of law enforcement. These incidents, where citizens are killed or beaten severely by police officers, continue to be a problem in the United States and, for this reason, the people and members of the government want to equip police officers with point of view (POV) cameras (Brome 10). POV cameras seem to be a great innovation; however, body cameras are not a good idea (Kay 31). The point of view camera is a compact portable device that is carried by police officers and that captures video and audio recordings of everything an officer says and does (Kay 31). Michael D. White, author of “Police Officer Body Worn Cameras Assessing the Evidence,” outlines the many concerns that many scholars in the field express. Multiple police unions across the nation voice the concern of police officer privacy and POV cameras is a major concern: “Law enforcement circles have not universally accepted the technology. Police unions in several cities, most recently New York, have claimed that the cameras represent a change in working conditions that must be negotiated during contract talks” (White 8). Furthermore, according to White, the POV cameras pose a health risk to police officers and people in the community (White 7). Although most of the problems associated with body-worn POV cameras are considered low-risk, including the extra weight on an officer’s neck, not enough research is available to accurately weigh the health risks associated with POV cameras (White 10). Richard Kay, the Director and Senior Tactical Trainer of Modern Combative International, outlines the major repercussions of POV cameras in (the article,) “Technology and Operational Safety- Pros and Cons for Police Officers”: “This technology may create serious repercussions in post-incident investigations, if the differences between human and camera perception are not understood” (Kay 31). In some cases, there may be differences between officer memory and camera recording, particularly when the officer could have no memory of key elements or there may be discrepancies that seem inexplicable or controversial (Kay 31). Although the POV camera is recording from the officer’s perspective, the recording will not be able to exactly match what an officer perceives during danger: “in a video recording, some action may be missing, and what’s shown can be significantly skewed. POV cameras claim to have the view of the officer, but they don’t. No camera records things the way that an officer’s eyes and brain record it” (Kay 32). Many argue that POV cameras are merely a neutral and unemotional observer of police interactions yet, the POV cameras are not guaranteed to accurately account for any interaction between police officers and the community (Kay 32).
POV cameras alone will not build the trust and proper communication between police and the community (Vitle 4). Cameras easily can be strapped on an officer, yet without proper planning, execution, and training their purpose may not be as significant without purposeful policy making (Vitle 7). Many experts also argue that, “the lack of clear guidelines on the cameras’ use could potentially undermine departments’ goals of creating greater accountability of officers and jeopardize the privacy of both the public and law enforcement officers” (Abdollah 102). In addition, POV cameras are expensive (Jennings 550). Potential costs include the cost of the device itself, ongoing maintenance, as well as storing and maintaining the video footage and recorded data that is collected (Abdollah 102). Costs are associated with cataloging and retrieving footage in response to subpoenas, investigations, and public information requests also must be completed (Jennings). Moreover when, implementing body-worn cameras, law enforcement agencies must balance privacy considerations with the need for transparency of police operations, accurate documentation of events, and evidence collection (Vitle 6). All of these concerns mean that police departments and communities must make careful decisions about when officers will be required to activate cameras, how long recorded data must be retained, who has access to the footage, who owns the recorded data, as well as how internal and external requests for disclosure will be handled (Jennings 545). Without ensuring that there are strong policies, experts say, departments could lose the public’s trust even more (White 15). Overall, the data retrieved from body cameras must be used correctly (). Merely taking a twenty second clip from a twenty minute police and suspect interaction can be misleading and used to create biased views ad influence opinions (Kay 33). POV cameras have limitations, although they can be great memory refreshers for officers, overall the cameras definitely does not explain every incident (Kay 33). In the long run POV cameras will not help build trust or improve communication between the police and the community (Kay 34).
As an alternative to POVs, law enforcement agencies must consider less intrusive methods in order to help increase the trust between themselves and the communities they police. One particular solution that can be administered is community policing. Community policing is a philosophy that promotes the efficient 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 (The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services). Community policing correctly recognizes that police rarely can solve public safety problems alone (Bain 268). As a result, proper community policing encourages interactive partnerships with members of the community and local politicians (Implementing Community Policing 6). The community’s members must help prioritize and address public safety concerns. The individuals are those who live, work, or otherwise have an interest in the community. These concerns must be addressed and goals must be set at town hall meetings or other neighborhood association meetings (Yero 53). Community policing involves much more than police officers who attend these community meetings. The method of community policing also mandates a much more engaged and approachable officer (Yero 53).
When officers implement foot patrol, neighborhood watches, and door to door checkups within the community, the relationship between the public and law enforcement becomes more familiar and personalized, which is because a familiar police officer is always visible (Yero 54). Not only is visibility important, but also the public perceiving police officers as being fair and just (Bain 269). Andy Bain, a professor of Criminal Justice at Mount Union College and author of many articles including –“Perceptions of Policing: Improving Communication in Local Communities”– explains that an individual is less likely to feel intimidated by an officer if the suspect is familiar with the officer patrolling the neighborhood (Bain et. Al 268). Within neighborhoods fairness can and will have an impact on how people perceive and comply with police actively in a neighborhood (Bain et. Al 270). As, Bain argues:“… when citizens perceive the police acting in a procedurally just manner ……by treating people with dignity and respect, and by being fair and neutral in their actions ……they view the police as legitimate and are more likely to comply with directives and cooperate with police” (Bain et. Al 271). By creating a more personalized and familiar relationship between law enforcement and the community the “us” vs. “them” rationale would ideally begin to decrease thus, improving the communities overall perception. Without a positive and well perceived relationship between the community and law enforcement agencies the level of mistrust will continue to increase and further issues will arise.
Based on a study completed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), the communication and distrust between the community and police officers in Ferguson, Missouri has become extremely dangerous (US Department of Justice 78). In March 2014 the DOJ’s study concluded that racial tensions have divided the city for many years : “since the August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown, the lack of trust between the Ferguson Police Department and a significant portion of Ferguson’s residents, especially African Americans, has become undeniable (US Department of Justice 5). As the study goes on to explain, its investigation has shown that distrust of the Ferguson Police Department is longstanding and largely attributable to Ferguson’s approach to law enforcement, and this approach results in patterns of unnecessarily aggressive and at times unlawful policing which neglects community engagement (US Department of Justice 6). After the shooting of Michael Brown citizens and lawmakers of Ferguson supported a crusade to have all police officers equipped with POV cameras (Brandenberger 1). This law, “The Mike Brown Law,” would require all state, county, and local police to wear a camera (Brandenberger 1). Shortly after the Mike Brown shooting, fifty POV cameras were donated to the police department (Brandenberger). Former St. Louis County Chief Jon Belmar began the program for body cameras and states his motives as follows: “my desire to equip my force with cameras has not changed, but somewhat slowed as I learned more about the costs and man power required to use them” (Brandenberger 2). St Louis County estimates that POV cameras will initially cost the department 2.5 million dollars to buy about five-hundred and fifty cameras; with an annual cost of eight-hundred thousand dollars, these costs will include data storage and staffing (Brandenberger). In addition to officer-worn POVs, police shootings and brutality are consistently being filmed by bystanders – ordinary citizens (Brandenberger 1 ). These recordings, however, do not always help allay community mistrust. Instead, such recordings often increase mistrust when officers, who are caught on camera, committing brutality or other inappropriate or illegal activities, are not indicted and citizens of the community believe, therefore, that justice has not been served. For these reasons, POV cameras – or other citizen recordings – do not necessarily mean accountability (Brandenberger 2).
In absence of such accountability, the DOJ study concludes that instead of POVs, the Ferguson Police Department must make the following alterations; 1) implement a true robust system of community policing ; 2) publically share information about the nature and impact of police activities ; and 3) increase civilian involvement in police policy making decisions (United States Department of Justice 90, 95, 96). The DOJ report, importantly, does not mention implementing POV cameras on officers or using militarized tactics (Brandenberger 2). Currently, Ferguson is taking a step back from POV cameras and attempting to implement Community Policing. Damaged relations between the African-American community and the Ferguson police department seemed almost irreparable after the killing of Michael Brown (United States Department of Justice 34). Attaching a camera to a police officer and implementing a “big brother” tactic within this community was clearly not the answer (Brandenberger 4). On November 6, 2015 the Ferguson Police Department announced that community meetings will began to be held five times per month at a local African-American church ( Thomas 1). Over one-hundred and fifty members of the Ferguson community showed up to the first meeting to voice opinions and problems around the neighborhoods (Thomas 1). During the first meeting the officers under the neighborhood policing program were assigned to specific areas of the community to help foster relationships with the area’s residents and businesses (Thomas 3).The community policing movement is quite new within the Ferguson Missouri community and the effectiveness of this movement will not be fully known for some time. Research shows, however, that the citizens of the community believe that community policing – and not POVs — is the answer to repairing the tensions between the citizens and the police department (Brandenberger 2 ).
COUNTERARGUMENT TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNITY POLICING
Opponents of community policing argue that there is no clear definition of community policing and, therefore, it is impossible and absurd to implement policies and procedures for which there is no clear direction (Skogen 31). Dr. Wesley G. Skogen, a professor of political science and urban affairs at North Western University is a major opponent of community policing. Skogen argues that community policing often involves a number of assumptions about the role that a community will play, as well as, many assumptions about how much the community will contribute to police efforts: “Above all, police and citizens have a history of not getting along with each other. Cities have experienced extreme difficulty in establishing a solid community infrastructure on which to build their community policing programs” (Skogen, 31). Furthermore, it is unrealistic to assume that there can be a clear method of application of community policing model that will apply to all if not most communities (Skogan 34). Skogen continues to argue, it is also difficult to provide a specific description about what is involved in implementing community policing: “It is difficult to get out the community policing message. Residents are unlikely to understand community policing’s goals and tactics” (Skogen 32). Moreover, there is not enough data available on the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of community policing, however, the projected benefits far precede the projected faults of community policing.
Overall, one of the major challenges community policing faces is the lack of adequate research and data about how the programs actually work to reduce crime (Skogan 31). Skogan argues this because most of the research is carried out on specific programs implanted in specific areas, yet there is no real record of a program implemented across multiple cities (Skogen 31). Skogan thus argues that it would be impossible to fully institute community policing because what constitutes community policing must, differ from community to community (Skogn 32). Scholars also claim that in places where community policing has been implemented and crime rates have fallen, these programs are not solely responsible for the decline in such rates (Skogen 32). Instead, Skogen argues that the decrease in crime rates is because of other factors, including an aging population, and not solely community policing (Skogen 33). Community policing has proven to be the answer for many jurisdictions, offering effective community action plans and programs. Community policing has proven to be far less intrusive and cost effective than the use of POVs (Kay 33). Furthermore, community policing is not only a solution but more importantly a preventive action (Bain 268)
EFFECTIVE COMMUNITY ACTION PLANS AND PROGRAMS
Effective and positive communication between the members of the society police officers is a mandatory component of effective community policing. Scholars argue that effective community action plans and community programs such as D.A.R.E and other juvenile prevention programs can be used as a tool to prevent crime (Carter 4). David L. Carter is a professor in the school of Criminal Justice and Director of Intelligence at Michigan State University, and also is the author of “Community Policing and D.A.R.E.: A Practitioner’s Perspective, Carter states that the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program is an initiative developed as a way to deal with drug abuse, gang activities, and violence in schools (Carter 1). The D.A.R.E program’s goals and activities are consistent with many community policing values, especially the emphasis that is put on building effective lines of communication between the police and the community (Carter 2). Furthermore, the program offers students within the community the opportunity to gain a trustworthy adult friend, develop a positive attitude toward law enforcement personnel, and students can acquire a greater respect for the law of the community (Carter 3). Carter argues that D.A.R.E. is able to complete these perceived goals while improving communication between police and the juveniles of the community by using informal socialization (Carter 4). The socialization process involves the way in which attitudes, values, and beliefs are shaped by everything a person observes and experiences throughout a lifetime (Carter 4). As Carter describes, “D.A.R.E. attempts to influence the socialization process in young people’s lives” (Carter 4). Implementing community policing and D.A.R.E together has proven to be successful in Mission, Texas. As Carter goes on to explain, Mission, Texas had an extremely high level of drug trafficking activity and drug abuse due to the city’s close proximity to the Mexican border (Carter 4). In response, Chief Dalagar of the Mission Police Department has placed thirteen officers within the city’s school district (Carter 4). As Chief Dalagar explains: “The Police Department has taken away the “big stick approach” (to dealing with youth-related crime) and replaced it with education (Carter 4). The officers taught the children a range of different curriculum from kindergarten to eighth grade, including gang resistance and drug resistance programs. According to Chief Dalagar, the two programs have been a success:
“This approach’s reliance on the more open (and trusting) communication has resulted in fewer “police problems” and significantly improved police community relations (Carter 4).
As another example of positive community policing, policing communication and trust the City of Reno, Nevada has implemented community policing in 1987 (Implementing Community Policing 167). Scholars argue that communication was so poor within the city that “few interactions occurred between police and the public other than in Neighborhood Watch chapters and during responses to calls for service (Yero 54). Some officers stated that the police-community relationship had been so poor that the chief would not allow the media near his officers” (Implementing Community Policing 167). In an effort to improve the Reno Police Department’s image, the police chief at the time surveyed residents by asking the community how the police department was viewed (Implementing Community Policing 167). The survey results confirmed that Reno residents were dissatisfied with police services: “they perceived their police as callous and aggressive, and they wanted a voice in setting police priorities and practices” (Implementing Community Policing 168). Based on these findings, community policing was initiated as a strategy for increasing citizen satisfaction (Implementing Community Policing 168). The community policing plan, referred to as “COP+”, called for the police agency to strengthen its ties with the community and with other municipal and county agencies (Implementing Community Policing 168). The Reno Police Department also began implementing community policing in the academy by properly training officers in effective communication and reinforcing this idea once new recruits graduated. The city of Reno listened to the people within the community. By opening up communication between the police department and the citizens the police department was able to effectively implement community policing. As a result, crime decreased and the citizens became pleased with the local police force (Implementing Community Policing 170).
The City of Richmond in British Columbia, Canada also has integrated many pro-active strategies within its police enforcement agency (Richmond Website). A simple tactic that this city implemented is a Crime Prevention Guide, which is a “free, community-focused guide providing personal and property safety information to encourage active participation in crime prevention techniques” (Richmond Website). In addition to its Neighborhood Watch Program and the well-known DARE program, the city has also begun a Youth Intervention Program (Richmond Website). This program’s initiative is “to provide assessment, counseling and/or referral services to youth (17 years and younger), referred by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) members, which youth has been identified as ones with actual or potential conflict with the law (Richmond Website). For those referrals that fall under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Police Officer makes a decision to give the youth an opportunity to learn more productive and socially acceptable behaviors, as well as and to understand the consequences of continued criminal behavior (Richmond Website). The goals of the program include 1) to prevent the youth from committing further offenses; and 2) to assist the family with resolving any underlying issues which may be contributing to problematic behavior (Richmond Website). Referrals from the community, schools, and other agencies also are accepted on a case-by-case basis (Richmond Website). The length of involvement with each youth and his or her family is dependent on the counseling issues that are identified (Richmond Website). Importantly, this program is fully funded by the City of Richmond (Richmond Website). By addressing the youth in the community, the police officers thus begun to develop a better rapport and trusting relationship with the youth who will eventually become the adults in the community (Richmond Website). This initiative has helped build better relationships between law enforcement and the community, especially the youth, and has cut down on violent youth offenders and overall crime in their community (Richmond Website). Scholars demonstrate that the presence of positive peers in the life of a young person helps increase problem-solving abilities, contributes to a decrease in aggression, and improves self-concept (Tate 2001). The City of Richmond’s programming is a prime example of how having an understanding of the community’s needs, they were able to develop effective programming and successful began to build a trusting relationship with the community and reestablish crucial communication with the people the police department serves.
Police use several strategies to decrease crimes in the community policing model (MacDonald 593). Energy and resources are placed on being heavily visible within the community by patrolling neighborhoods known for having higher crime rates and letting their presence be know(Goldstein, 1990). In addition, police officers work to keep quick response times to 911 calls. When police can be found volunteering in the communities, are familiar with the people and the neighborhoods in which they serve and the culture is one of prevention it helps build a rapport that is more positive and therefore impactful; “A major function of CP (community policing) is to improve police performance through increased cooperation and improved relationships between the public and the police” (MacDonald 596). It is vital to the community that these relationships are mended and built back up for the safety of everyone involved.
Police departments across the United States must create community-policing units. The units would be responsible for improving the quality of life in low to moderate income neighborhoods. Police departments will now have the opportunity to be proactive instead of reactive. Officers will be able to identify and listen to all the problems experienced by the community residents, thus a relationship will form because the police officers and community residents will work together to develop strategies to address problems and bring in the appropriate public and nonprofit agencies to help implement solutions to community problems. The goals and methods of community policing are designed to create stable, healthy neighborhoods and to involve community residents in improvement efforts (Vitle 8). Therefore, community policing is not a practice that will be the same for every community; there is no traditional plan, and the implementation would be up to the individuals within each community to determine what is important to them (Shallwani 32). A study completed by the United States Department of Justice in 2009 conducted a study on twelve cities that implemented community policing. William Wells a professor in the College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University in Texas and a researcher associated with this study expressed the importance of communication between police departments and community members: “building effective partnerships with groups and other agencies is a crucial dimension of community policing. Researchers believe that community partnerships increase police problem-solving capabilities and effectiveness, especially when addressing the most important problems faced by the public—problems believed to be too big and complex for any single group alone to address and reduce effectively” (Implementing Community Policing 2009). Communication between the community and the police department allows for several goals to be completed; 1) the ability to understand community concerns and identify problems, 2) the ability to educate citizens and teach crime prevention techniques, 3) the ability to build community support and 4) the ability to share information with other agencies, particularly those in the criminal justice system (Implementing Community Policing 8). The police departments in this study communicate with the public in several ways. Surveys are being handed out to the people, knock-and-talks are initiated, knock and talks involve police officers going door-to-door in high crime areas and talking to residents, and finally police officers are present at community meetings (Implementing Community Policing 8). The study insured that police departments will have great success if efforts are made by the police departments to reach out to the community; “some agencies had begun communicating directly with minority groups about their particular concerns, establishing new bonds. In all of these cases, police were finding opportunities to be responsive to the distinct communities embedded within their larger jurisdictions. Personnel from many of the agencies reported that the new relationships with community members were resulting in a clearer understanding of the issues of most concern to the public” (Implementing Community Policing 9). Community policing has been implemented with success in a variety of municipalities that were plagued with police corruption, lack of communication and high amount of civil liberties complaints.
EFFECTIVE POLICE OFFICER TRAINING
The success of community policing programs will require a commitment of motivated, problem-oriented police officers and requires that police be responsive to citizen’s concerns and demands when the community decides what local problems are important and how the problems will be prioritized. Community policing demands frequent and continuous communication between residents and the police officers, which is essential in building mutual trust and cooperation between community residents and police officers (Yero 55). In addition, this policy would also demand police respond to the crime problems that community residents have identified and believe are important. Finally, police must demonstrate respect for all community residents (Yero 55). Typically, community members seeing officers attend community meetings, conduct foot patrols, and also casually and genuinely interact with community residents will raise the moral within the toughest neighborhoods, giving community members the ability to want to help the officers solve crimes and turn in drug dealers (Yero 55). This will also require that officers be assigned to permanent beats so that they can get to know the community and the community can get to know them. The transition from traditional to community policing involves major changes in the missions, policies, and practices of police departments, as well as in the behavior of police officers (Bain .et al).
Trainings that involve cultural sensitivity are far less expensive then POV cameras and possibly more effective in the long run (Yero 55). John MacDonald author of Community Policing and Urban Violence explains that in: “Two single-site studies of Oakland, California, and Birmingham, Alabama, found that beats in which police officers made door-to-door contacts with citizens experienced notable declines in reported violent crimes (Uchida, Forst, & Annan,1992). These studies show that simplistic but genuine attempts made by officers to build relationships within the community have a positive impact and reduce violent crimes. The community policing strategy is more pro-active rather than reactive.
Traditionally police officers are trained to be incident-oriented. An incident-oriented police officer only responds to crime that has already been committed and has no interest in preventing crime from happening (McDonald 600). The training that is currently received does not change the total number of criminals in society; on the contrary incident-orientated policing only changes the location of criminals. Community policing addresses the problem at the root, by implementing programs that prevent crime from happening, thus less criminals will be produced within a community (McDonald 600). Presently police departments require that a member of the community become a victim before the police can act. For example, the police will not take action against disorderly behavior until it has escalated into a criminal act, nor will they address the social conditions that breed crimes such as; vandalism, graffiti and sometimes even loitering in front of stores. All of these activities are pre-curses to crime (Mishra78).Opponents of Community policing argue that there is no true tangible evidence about if community policing works or not. However, there are some explanations about the lack of direct research data on the effects of the community-policing measures on crime. First, although dealing with existing crime directly, community policing emphasizes crime prevention. Proactive policing targets the sources and social conditions of crime and may not always deal with crime directly (Macdonald 600). Thus, crime prevention, in the context of community policing, is a more indirect approach to crime. Second, crime prevention is a long-term process and it takes time to show an effect (Wall 8) The programs that officers and the community will implement to prevent crime such as youth programs that help prevent gang violence may generate results years later (Mishra 80). With such a process, data may not be able to catch the direct effect of restorative and community policing on crime reduction.
AMERICAN CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM REACHING OVERALL GOALS
There are two overall goals of the criminal justice system; to keep the public safe and to punish offenders of the law. When an offender is found guilty they are sentenced to some form of correctional intervention with the hope of rehabilitation, however, in the United States the most common form of punishment is probation (More 8). But, if the purpose of these prisons and probation is rehabilitate, do the recidivism rates show that probation is working? To most the answer is no, released offenders ability to reintegrate back into society is continually questioned by citizens, correctional guards and politicians. In 2014 researchers tracked a group of newly released offenders from jail. It was found that 67.8% were rearrested after 3 years of freedom, while 76.6% were rearrested within 5 years of being released (Cooper, Durose & Synder 1). Restorative justice offers alternatives to our traditional juvenile and criminal justice systems and harsh school discipline processes. Rather than focusing on punishment, restorative justice seeks to repair previous maltreatments within the community (Miller & Hefner 98). Through tactics such as victim-offender mediation, conferences, safe circles, victim assistance, ex-offender assistance, restitution and community service; restorative justice results in plans that meet victim-identified needs after a crime. This model argues that victim-offender dialogue, and mediation processes offer the best closure after being victimized (Moore 3). In juvenile offender cases this can prevent youth from having to go through the juvenile justice system and school expulsions and suspensions, thus, giving juveniles less opportunity to be out in the streets or to be influenced by gang recruiters (Tsui 7). Restorative justice also gives victims and their families the option to have a voice in determining an outcome that will help begin the healing process. Furthermore, this reestablishes the role of the community in supporting all parties affected by crime. Several restorative models have been shown to reduce reoffending and, even can minimize the community and financial costs of crime (Myers, David & Olson 6). Advocates of restorative justice argue that it is time for a change in the justice system this is because, costs of incarceration continue to rise along with the uncertainty of any given offender being rehabilited, therefore, it is crucial for the justice system to move away from traditional tactics (jail, prison, parole, probation) to a more efficient and effective system (Myers, David & Olson 6). An ideal restorative justice system requires an offender to accept accountability for their crimes, as a result, allowing the victim to heal and the offender to seek help from members of the community (Tsui7). Considering the two overall goals of the criminal justice system to keep the public safe and to punish offenders then community policing simply makes sense. If implemented effectively this strategy will reestablish and restore the community’s communication and trust in local law enforcement agencies and the overall judicial system (Tsui 9). When a nation has been horrified by the high number and seemingly senseless killings and beatings of young African-American men by White police officers, as well as, other events of police brutality, police departments across the nation must consider and research a more effective approach to protect and serve the public (Moore 8).
In conclusion Community policing has proven to be the answer for many jurisdictions, offering effective community action plans and programs, implementing training for officers and adhering to the two important goals of the American Criminal Justice System. This method has proven far less intrusive and cost effective than the use of POVs. Furthermore, community policing is not only a solution but more importantly a preventive action, Community policing allows the law enforcement agency the ability to be proactive rather than reactive. When examining the recent history of increasing tensions between police officers and the communities that they serve, the positive and negative aspects of POV cameras, as well as how community policing can provide more effective communication and crime prevention in the communities police officers serve, POV cameras are not the most proactive approach to the crisis of repeated killings and police brutality that are sweeping the nation, dialogue among police officers, local politicians, and residents can be crucial in preventing crime (Bain 268). The people in the community must be used as “cameras” for the police within the neighborhoods, by effectively establishing open lines of communication within community policing the people can help the police officers arrest offenders and prevent crime (Bain 270). Moreover, Ferguson, Missouri has attempted to implement body cameras, but yet because of so much distrust between the community and police officers, the Ferguson Police Department has begun to implement community policing. Therefore, it is imperative for other communities to follow Ferguson, Missouri even though enough data is not known about the community policing effectiveness in Ferguson (Brandenberger 1). Furthermore, effective community action plans and community programs such as D.A.R.E. can be used to as an excellent tool to prevent crime, while socializing the youth within the community to be productive citizens as adults (Carter 5). Lastly, effective training of police officers will help preculde crime, community policing makes the citizens in the community see the police department as just, therefore, raises the overall morale of the entire community.
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