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Unit 4: Co-Producing Safety: The Police as a Tool for the Community?

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Kate Fletcher

CRM 2310 Lecture Notes – Unit 4: Co-Producing Safety: The Police as a Tool for the Community Monday February 3 2014 Class #7 (1st class after midterm) Co-Producing Safety? - Police as a Tool for the Community • The idea of community policing • Police officers working with the community to deal with crime as a social problem • Is this actually true community policing? Or is it actually broken windows community policing? What makes sense for contemporary culture and who constitutes true community? The Political Era Prior to the 1920's, policing was done by uneducated, underpaid volunteers • Members of the community in which they were working • • More prone to corruption • They needed the money because they didn't get paid enough (may be more open to accepting bribes) • If you know all the players in the community (could be your friends, family members), you may be more likely to "look the other way" • Order-maintenance style • Principal functions/goals of officers is to maintain order in the neighbourhood • Minor offences can be overlooked if they don't impact order - is it sufficiently serious? Officers have a lot of discretionary power - can leave yourself open for corruption • "Watchmen style" • The Reform Era (around the Great Depression) J. Edgar Hoover initiates the emphasis on professionalizing policing - to change the • perceptions of police officers at the time (eg. Bumbling idiots) Criminals were viewed as heroes at the time (eg. Al Capone, Dilinger) • The media glorified the activities of these criminals • Professional model: police as crime fighters - soldiers in the war against crime • Start to move away from police maintaining order, to police enforcing the law • Militaristic, hierarchal organization • Insulated from corruption • • Officer discretion limited Crime prevention through reaction • Introduction of the patrol car - remove them from the streets to respond to calls for service • Doesn't allow officers to get to know people in the neighbourhood as well as in the past • (less corrupt) "Legalistic style" (law enforcement model) • This model prevents us from truly doing community policing • Narrow job description - the focus is on enforcing the law, less emphasis on getting to know • people or negotiating disputes (takes a step back from the community) Negative police personality perceived by the community (eg. Brutal, conservative, lazy, etc) • Rapid response ineffective • Routine investigations did not solve crime • Emphasis on having highly skilled officers to solve crimes starts to be called into question • • Rising crime rates = questions about legitimacy The Community Policing Era (1970's-1980's) More protests, civil rights movements • Begin to see more and more police brutality because of this social context • • See a huge chasm between police and public • Community policing was supposed to: • Reduce psychological distance that has developed between the average person and the police (the system of police cars alienated police from the community) • Participation of community • Need to see these things happen: • Philosophical change • Suggests that communities as a group and citizens within those neighbourhoods must coproduce safety with police and police need to have the trust of citizens in order to actually solve crimes (eg. Coming forward as witnesses • Begins to emphasis working hand in hand with the police • Moves away from the "thin blue line of policing" - which differentiates them from the community and shows that they represent the last barrier between order and chaos • Emphasizes the fraternity (they have each other's backs) • Now in order to coproduce safety, they have to include the help of average citizens Organizational change • Militaristic hierarchies need to be flattened - return to a more order maintenance style • (front line officers need to use more discretion) • Operational change Now going to be conceptualized as "providing a community service", instead of merely • enforcing the law • "Service style" approach • Need to respond to every call - going to deal with a lot of different things that traditional police officers may not usually have to deal with (may not even be issues that are against the law) • More emphasis on foot patrol • Get to know the people who live in the community • The neighbourhood must be a co-partner • Minority groups (which make up the majority of the community some of the time) will not be heard • If you don't like/trust the police you may not want to help (eg. You/your family/friends were arrested in the past, felt targeted by the police) "New" Role of Police Police as mediators - must now learn to broker deals and mediate conflicts (may have not had • to do this in the past) Domestic conflicts • Landlord-tenant conflicts • • Residential neighbours • Residents and establishments (eg. Placement of bars) • Police don't want these things to get out of control • Mutual recognition of authority/legitimacy • Both groups (community members and police officers) must recognize this Potential Problems • Increased interaction with individuals can be a wearing, tiring, draining experience for police officers • Issues happen because of dealing with the same people and the same problems day after day • Problems can arise such as: Burnout • Not just enforcing the law, problem-solving now as well • Tunnel vision • Don't see any other ways to solve problems any more • Deal with opposing groups often - they might try to sway you over to their side • Personalization • If we're saying that this job is now about solving problems, the officers becomes a • responsible player in this - become personally invested in these issues As a law enforcer, you must be very objective, but in this situation, your ego is involved in • solving the problem (may become obsessed with fixing things) Could lead to abuses of authority to try and fix things • • Over-identification • May have sympathy for one group over the other if you have personalized the situation • Over-commitment • Might become blind to the fact that there may be a no-win situation where
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