This report discusses issues related to community policing, with emphasis on the development of computer-aided dispatch and an information system in four small and mid-size police agencies in Massachusetts, with emphasis on the implications for researchers and managers seeking to document and research community policing activity.
Most scholars agree on four basic ideas of community policing. However, a lack of rigorous empirical data has considerably weakened the strong philosophical reasoning for and the potential promise of community policing. Enthusiastic reformers have claimed successes, but the academic data that community policing programs reduce crime or the fear of crime is mixed. As a result, disagreement, doubt, and cynicism emerge regarding the rhetoric versus the reality of community policing. Successful programs appear to depend on the congruence of three factors: interests, pressure, and knowledge. In Somerville, Mass., additional codes for the computer-aided dispatching system were developed in 1994 to cover the proactive nature of the beat activities of patrol officers and community police officers. The code system is an attempt to measure the daily activities of community policing units and regular patrol officers. The data indicated that 76 percent of the community policing was being done by patrol officers and 24 percent by the designated community police officer. In addition, citizen survey instruments were developed for Somerville, Lynn, and Danvers regarding priorities for community policing and attitudes toward the police. The codes and survey tools are at an early stage of development and are part of an effort to develop a network of those interested in measuring what managers and theorists are calling community-oriented policing. Tables and appended surveys of Somerville, Lynn, Danvers, and Lowell
Date Published: January 1, 1996