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Practitioners agree that there is, and has been, a pressing need for innovative practices within policing to help curb what some would consider a “crisis of violence” within many communities.
Here in Ontario, police services are mandated under Section 1 (1) of the Adequacy Standards Regulation to provide community-based crime prevention initiatives (Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General, 2000).
While there appears to be a great deal of community policing being undertaken, exactly what constitutes “community policing” is broad and far-reaching.
It has also been recognized that curbing disorder, fighting crime, and increasing feelings of personal safety requires commitment from both the police and the public.
Eggers and O’Leary (1995) note that the public surrendered its role in controlling crime in the 1960s and increasingly relied upon the police to do the job.
There are a number of compelling reasons why police officials and politicians have looked to community policing as a way forward.
These reasons are mostly grounded in the history of policing, police research that has taken place over the past quarter century, the changing nature of communities, and the shifting characteristics of crime, violence, and disorder (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1994: 3).The aim of this section, therefore, is to introduce the various concepts that are said to make up community policing.It will start by briefly examining why community policing has re-emerged as a dominant policing style in many jurisdictions.Police-community relations again suffered when the social unrest of the 1960s led to urban riots, assassinations, and increased gang violence.Some people came to view the police as an oppressive occupying force.Many police departments adopted top-down, militaristic, hierarchical management systems that imposed greater accountability on police managers and emphasized police professionalism.Many have argued that advances in policing methods and technologies, such as motorized patrols, radio dispatching, and use of rapid response techniques, created a greater rift between the community and the police.Police were often assigned patrol areas on a rotating basis, and were instructed to change routes frequently, in an effort to thwart criminals (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1994: 6).As such, community members lost their ability to predict when they may be able to interact with local police, and thus, the police came to be viewed as strangers, disengaged from the community and its issues.During this time, and in previous decades, police administrators implemented strategies and used new technologies to increase the distance between police personnel and the public they served.This effort was largely undertaken by police managers to lessen the corrupting influence that was believed to come from the community.