Improving Police-Community Relations Through Community Policing

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Improving Police-Community Relations Through Community Policing

  • National Crime Prevention Council
  • 2007–2008

Goal of This Presentation

  • To help participants understand how relations between the community and law enforcement can be strengthened through community policing strategies


  • Define community policing and its principles
  • Describe the benefits and the importance of citizen involvement
  • Identify strategies for effective communication
  • Identify the six factors for improving police community relations
  • Describe the benefits of Neighborhood Watch

Crime Prevention As a Bridge

  • Crime Prevention efforts reduce polarization that sometimes exists between police and citizens.
  • Community Policing, Neighborhood Watch, Orange Hat Patrols, Weed and Seed, and McGruff programs build a bridge that enables residents and law enforcement to communicate, collaborate, and work together to build safer, more caring communities.

The Benefits of Improved Police-Community Relations

  • Improved Relations Allow Police Officers to
  • Police more effectively
  • Find their jobs safer and easier to do
  • Face less litigation and gain longer careers
  • Be treated with greater respect
  • Have better morale

The Benefits of Improved Police-Community Relations (continued)

  • Improved Relations Allow Community Residents to
  • Have more trust and less fear of police
  • Have a safer community
  • Have less tension and conflict
  • Gain greater cooperation from police
  • Gain increased safety for children and seniors
  • Gain quicker resolution to crime

A Bit of History Community Policing

Sir Robert Peel Considered a “father” of law enforcement

  • Are his principles of policing still applicable today?
  • Absolutely!

Sir Robert Peel’s Nine Principles of Policing

  • 1. The basic mission of the police is to prevent crime and disorder.
  • 2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.
  • 3. Police must secure the willing cooperation of the public.
  • 4. The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionally to the necessity of the use of force.

Sir Robert Peel’s Nine Principles of Policing (continued)

  • 5. Police seek and preserve public favor.
  • 6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary.
  • 7. Police at all times should maintain a relationship with the public.
  • 8. Police should always direct their actions strictly toward their functions.
  • 9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder.

Community Policing

  • “Community policing is a philosophy that promotes and supports organizational strategies to address the causes of crime, to reduce the fear of crime and social disorder through problem-solving tactics and community-police partnerships.”
  • Source: Community Oriented Policing Services Office
  • The Eight “P”s of Community Policing
  • A PHILOSOPHY of full service,
  • POLICING, where the same officer
  • PATROLS and works in the same area on a
  • PERMANENT basis, from a decentralized
  • PLACE, working in
  • PARTNERSHIP with citizens to identify and solve

Community Policing

  • The community-policing philosophy rests on the belief that law-abiding citizens in the community have a responsibility to participate in the police process. It also rests on the belief that solutions to today’s contemporary community problems demand freeing both community residents and law enforcement to explore creative ways to address neighborhood concerns beyond a narrow focus on individual crimes.

Normative Sponsorship Theory

  • The more the various groups share common values, beliefs, and goals, the more likely it is that they will agree on common goals.
  • Most people are of good will.
  • They will cooperate with others to facilitate
  • the building of consensus.

Critical Social Theory

  • Enlightenment
  • Give information
  • Empowerment
  • Take action to improve conditions
  • Emancipation
  • People can achieve through social action

Community Relationships Provide

  • Worth in social value
    • A more informed citizenry
    • Example to young people and others
  • Added value
    • Opportunity to learn about law enforcement while working with law enforcement
    • Learning about citizens’ concerns
  • How Do People View the Police?

Agencies Opening Their Doors to Citizens Through Citizen Police Academies

  • Why is it important?
  • Who can it benefit?

Philosophy of the Citizens’ Police Academy

  • Agency size and demographics can sometimes create barriers between the police and those they serve.
  • Community policing is paramount to the effectiveness of crime reduction.
  • Police image: There are many misconceptions to dispel.

Philosophy of the Citizens’ Police Academy (continued)

  • Community
  • Police
  • Business
  • Schools
  • Government
  • Youth
  • Who Will Benefit From It?

Philosophy of the Citizens’ Police Academy (continued)

  • Improved cooperation
  • Less apathy
  • Reduction in crime
  • Reduction in fear of crime
  • Better communications
  • Improved police image
  • Clear understanding
  • What They Can Accomplish

Volunteers in Police Service

  • Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS)
  • Provides support for resource-constrained police departments by incorporating civilian volunteers so that law enforcement professionals have more time for frontline duty
  • Website

Volunteers in Police Service (continued)

  • Foundations of the VIPS Program
      • 2002 Presidential initiative
      • Department of Justice and IACP responsibilities
  • Concept
      • Volunteers from the community
      • Expanding law enforcement to the community

Volunteers in Police Service (continued)

  • Why they are needed
    • Ease demands on law enforcement
    • Encourage a more informed citizenry
    • Provide an example to young people
    • Improve cooperation and understanding between the police and their community

Considerations of Community Interaction

  • How community volunteers can be used within their community
    • Legal issues
    • Safety issues
    • Expertise issues

Community/Police Needs and Support

  • Filling needs with volunteers
    • Coordinating position
    • Prerecruitment action required
    • Role of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
    • Match volunteers to the organization’s strategic plan
    • Possible volunteer positions (adapt to local needs)

Recruiting and Marketing

  • Recruitment strategy
    • Who is your target?
    • Develop a plan
    • Recognize important existing networks and tap into
        • Churches, PTAs, community councils, Kiwanis, Rotarians, etc.
        • Elementary and secondary schools
        • Youth, courts, citizens’ police academies

Recruiting and Marketing (continued)

  • Develop organizational marketing materials
    • Websites
    • Brochures
    • Fliers/handouts/fact sheets
    • Store window posters
    • Ads in local papers
    • Cable channel access

Recruiting and Marketing (continued)

  • Media assistance
    • Public service announcements
    • News releases
  • Prerecruitment strategy
    • Secure top management buy-in
    • Develop organization marketing materials

What Does a Citizen Need To Know Before Volunteering?

    • Position description
    • Time commitment
    • Defined program activities
    • Direct supervisor
    • Website access for personal record of service/journal
    • How long should volunteers serve?
    • Age criteria
    • Citizens’ police academy attendance prior to service

Police Agency Management and Administrative Issues

  • Agency mission, objectives, and goals
    • Define the agency’s mission, objectives, and goals
    • Define concepts and political considerations for volunteers
    • Define objectives and goals within the agency’s mission for volunteers
    • Define clear and specific department guidelines for volunteers

VIPS Management and Administrative Issues

    • Develop a prerecruitment strategy according to the Volunteers in Police Service’s goal to help resource-constrained agencies
    • Internal management responsibilities
    • External management responsibilities
    • Who can manage the program
    • Training issues
    • Liability issues
    • Funding issues

Strategies for Effective Communication

  • Strategies for Effective Communication

Trust Building Model


The Communication Process

  • Message cues
  • Listener supplies meaning
  • Content
  • Relate to your audience; build rapport

The Communication Process (continued)

  • One-way or two-way communication
  • Consider verbal and nonverbal cues
  • Physical appearance
  • Solicit student engagement and participation by using open-ended questions and feedback.

Nonverbal Communication Considerations

  • Facial expression
  • Tone of voice
  • Eye contact
  • Touch
  • Personal space
  • Territoriality
  • Time

Building Trust Through Effective Communication

  • Effective Listening
    • Listen to learn and understand, not to challenge or persuade.
    • Take turns and listen for facts and feelings. (Both are important.)

Six Factors Necessary To Improve Police-Community Relations

  • Six Factors Necessary To Improve Police-Community Relations

The Six Factors

  • Membership
  • Environment
  • Process and Structure
  • Communications
  • Purpose
  • Resources


  • Appropriate cross-section of members
  • Mutual respect, understanding, and trust
  • Members see that collaboration is in their best interest.
  • Members develop an ability to compromise.


  • Political and social climate are favorable.
  • Collaborative group is viewed as a leader in the community.
  • There is a history or evidence of collaboration or cooperation in the community.

Process and Structure

  • Members are invested in the process as well as the outcome.
  • Clear roles and responsibilities
  • Flexibility
  • Adaptability
  • Equal decision-making authority is held by each member regardless of rank, authority, or place in the hierarchy.


  • Members learn to listen and allow venting.
  • There is open and frequent communication.
  • Members disclose self interest at first meeting.
  • Members establish informal and formal means of communication.


  • Concrete, attainable goals and objectives
  • Shared vision
  • Desired results and strategies


  • A skilled and unbiased convener of meetings
  • Staff time and volunteer time
  • Sufficient funds

Crime in Your Neighborhood

  • A lack of community involvement may lead to some of the most serious and perplexing problems your community faces.

Why Is Community Involvement Important?

  • When members of a community are involved with each other, they know
    • Their neighbors
    • The daily “goings-on” in the neighborhood
    • When something is wrong

One great way to perpetuate community involvement is through the Neighborhood Watch program.

What Is the Neighborhood Watch Program?

  • Neighborhood Watch was established in 1970 to bring residents together to interact and become the guardians for the police in their community.

Neighborhood Watch

  • Crime prevention group organized around a block, defined neighborhood, or business district
  • Serves as “eyes and ears” for law enforcement
  • Helps establish or reclaim informal control of an area by observation, visibility, and increased social interaction
  • Donates time and resources
  • Usually has no formal budget or funding source
  • Success results in reduction in crime and improved quality of life for neighborhood residents

The Benefits of Neighborhood Watch

  • Unites the community and increases neighborhood cohesion
  • Reduces fear of crime in the community
  • Improves crime reporting by citizens
  • Increases surveillance in the community
  • Prevents and reduces crime
  • Enhances homeland security

The Benefits of Neighborhood Watch (continued)

  • Studies show that Neighborhood Watch is effective because
  • It unites neighbors around a common goal—safety and security.
  • It provides all members basic skills on preventing crime and reporting suspicious activities or crimes.
  • It builds a base for correcting neighborhood problems.
  • It works well with other civic activities.

Additional Citizen Actions

  • Discuss your community’s overall security, including lighting, and contact neighbors or the proper authorities to request necessary improvements.
  • Contact your local law enforcement agency and work with it to discuss basic community modifications that may overcome current problems.

Are state crime prevention associations and Neighborhood Watch programs involved in community policing and homeland security?

  • Absolutely!

How Can Citizens Be More Aware?

In Conclusion

  • Community policing is the responsibility of both law enforcement and community members. Both have important roles in community policing.
  • There are many ways to involve the community in crime-reduction and problem solving, including community meetings and citizens’ police academies.
  • Police and local citizens are all members of the community.


Special Thanks to

  • Tri-State RCPI
  • for providing their materials for this presentation




  • Community Policing Consortium
  • Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS)
  • Citizen Corps


  • National Sheriffs’ Association
  • 1450 Duke Street
  • Alexandria, VA 22314
  • 703-836-7827

The National Crime Prevention Council

  • 2345 Crystal Drive
  • Suite 500
  • Arlington, VA 22202
  • 202-466-6272
  • FAX 202-296-1356

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