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  The Evolution of Police & Community Partnerships  
  ~ Christopher B. Kuch, PhD  

The concept of policing sharing their responsibilities with the community and actively engaging the citizens they serve to assist them has been around for decades.  It was apparent that the former watchman style law enforcement focus was not sufficient to protect and serve the communities.  A different approach was needed to combat crime, reduce friction between the public and police, and take a proactive approach to crime prevention.  This has led to several different types of policing styles that have evolved over the years.  This brief article surveys each style and present some advantages and disadvantages to each. 

Team Policing
After the failures of the professional model where a military style of policing was utilized for rapid response times and a uniform policing for each call departments started to change during the 1960’s. This brought about the concept of assigning officers within neighborhoods to solve citizens problems there.   Patrol zones were redrawn based on minority areas not on citizen or physical dimensions.  It was similar to the initial cop on the beat method.  Yet, there was a flaw with rapid response times being inadequate as officers attempted to solve long term neighborhood problems.  Studies showed increase routine patrol and faster response time had little impact on crime rates. As a result, researchers and police administrators felt that with increased police presence with foot patrol, made citizens feel safer, increase positive police morale, and improved minority police relations.

Problem Oriented Policing (POP)
Professor Herman Goldstein created what he called problem oriented policing back in 1979.  He felt the police should solve problems within the community.  For example discover specific problems and find alternative or new solutions for those problems.  This can only be done with the addition for the public within the framework of police work.  The goal was to eliminate or reduce the causes of crime rather than focusing strictly on the outcome.  His plan was for officers to discover what caused fear within the neighborhoods and allow officers to develop strategies to reduce that fear. The main focus was develop a partnership between the citizens and the police. 

Community Oriented Policing (COP)
This type of policing was directed at trying to fix the underlining problems that caused crime.  The underlining principle is to develop personal relationships in the neighborhoods so that the police and the citizens can solve potential crime problems or prevent unrest that might lead to crime.  The focus is about identifying what causes social disorder, neighborhood declines, and bothersome social activities that were not major criminal activities.  For instance, unruly juveniles, graffiti, broken windows, abandoned buildings, and unkempt lawns all signal that no one cares within that neighborhood.  If left unresolved and to continue to flourish, the residence will not contact the police, stay inside, or increasing move out of the neighborhoods. Most departments today utilize this type of policing.   It is evolving by increasing minorities on the police force, creating police substations (which has mixed results) and attempting to reach out to minorities. The Violent Crime Act of 1994 provides grant money to local departments to hire community officers for such programs.

Block Watch

In 1972 The National Sheriffs’ Association developed the Block Watch programs.  Here the police teach citizens about crime prevention.  In some areas, citizens actively monitor the streets by reporting suspicious activity and in others they actual patrol their neighborhoods with CB Radios.  This type of citizen involvement is embedded within community policing.  Several problems have arisen concerning block watch programs.  One there are only effective in middle to upper class neighborhoods.  In the lower class areas it has been difficult to recruit and maintain volunteers for reporting.   The second is overly aggressively citizens who might take their civic responsibility too far.  There have been several sensationalized cases recently concerning this. 

Neighborhood Policing
This form of policing is typically used in Europeans countries like the U.K.  It is very similar to community oriented and team policing. Yet, the big difference is high visibility of a police presence—usually 10 to 15 officer groups or units per neighborhood. The focus is on decentralization giving officers a lot of flexibility to perform their jobs and find solutions to neighborhood issues outside of traditional police boundaries.  Such as community assistance, neighborhood visual improvements (reducing graffiti, trash, and homeless people).  Lastly after identifying neighborhood problems, discovering methods, funding, and means to resolves those issues.   Yet the main aim is to foster relationships to gather intelligence and solve crime and less on neighborhood happiness.

Intercultural Policing
Is a proposed method by the author which combines neighborhood and team policing with an intense effort of officers to learn about the different cultures within their patrol areas.  Including reaching out to the citizens to learn about their most respected authority, athlete, political, and business figures.  Constantly interacting with the citizens to share differences of opinions and actively seek out their suggestion to improve the quality of life within their neighborhoods.  Furthermore it actively recruits troubled youths for citizen’s patrol, future criminal justice careers, and assisting with high school mentoring and GED preparation. Moreover creating criminal justice scouts (similar to cub and boy scouts) where criminal justice officers (corrections, policing, and probation officers) form sporting activities and encouraging minorities youths to research and present their favorite heroes at monthly meetings.  These activities are paid for by fines obtained by the communities from minor violations such as DUI, shoplifting, and domestic violence.  Those offenders typically pay the fine.  It further suggests that officers live in the neighborhoods they serve by federal COP grants and integrating within that neighborhood.  Finally going beyond traditional police work to embrace assistance to troubled youth, the elderly, and local minority businesses. (Kuch, 2015).

       STYLE                                      STRUCTURE                           FOCUS


High Concentration of Grouped Officers in the Neighborhoods

Short Term Solutions for Immediate Crime Problems

Problem Oriented


Discover Underlining Social unrest and Create Solutions


Special Officers in a Decentralized Format

Gain Public Trust and Obtain Citizens Input to Solve Local Social Issues

Block Watch

Citizens Actively Participate in Reporting Possible Criminal Activity

Have a Higher Monitoring of Neighborhoods by Using Citizens


Decentralized with High Concentration of Officers

Improving the Quality of Neighborhood Appearance to Deter Criminals


Low Concentration of Individual Officers Decentralized from Headquarters

Cultural Integration into the Neighborhoods

1* Kuch, Christopher B. “Intercultural Policing.” Law Enforcement Times. September 20, 2015.

Dr. Kuch holds a PhD, MA, and MS in criminal justice. He has spent most of his career as an adjunct faculty member in social sciences.  He lives in Istanbul, Turkey and is on the adjunct faculty at Galatasaray University.



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