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Community Policing in America: Changing the Nature, Structure, and Function of the Police

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2000
72 pages
This essay reviews the rise of community-oriented and problem-oriented policing as major vehicles to improve the effectiveness of police efforts in communities and as means of reforming police organizations.
The author considers the historical development of various models of policing, as it examines the assumptions embedded in each of these often-competing emphases. The essay goes on to review extant research on the impacts of community policing on communities, police organizations, police work, and police officers. Findings from various studies suggest that community and problem-oriented policing have had modest impacts on community crime but larger impacts on the quality of interaction between the police and the public. In addition, extant research suggests that police organizations are slowly adopting the philosophy and practices of community and problem-oriented policing and have shown some change in police structure and service delivery. Changes associated with problem solving within police agencies are less evident in the research literature. More often than not, the police are using traditional approaches to respond to problems identified in community settings. Finally, the research literature suggests that police officers' concept of their roles and their attachment to police work are improving with the adoption of community and problem-oriented policing roles. Police job satisfaction is also seen as increasing for officers associated with community policing efforts. The essay concludes with a consideration of the forces that are continuing to shape American policing and the need to address the largest obstacle identified in opposition to community-oriented and problem-oriented policing, namely, the police bureaucracy. 2 exhibits and 137 references

Date Published: January 1, 2000