Community policing has been defined as a “philosophy, management style and organizational strategy” with the end goal of building community relationships and not only solving crime but addressing the causes of crime within a community. Community policing involves any body of people (whether that be schools, businesses, residents, community organizations, churches or anyone in the community) collaborating with the police to identify problems within the areas they live and how to solve them. Whereas, traditional policing tends to draw from police officers and law enforcement agencies working solely at identifying problems in the community and tackling how to solve them on their own.
Traditional policing can separate police departments from the communities they serve. Departments that use more traditional policing also tend to be more reactive and can create a disconnect with the community. Little time is taken to look beyond to strategies that will potentially mediate a situation they are placed in without the necessary use of force. In the 1950’s, during the Reform Era, police were seen as “enforcers” who were called to deal with large riots and social disorder. Usually, when things went wrong, whether large or small, this continued identity and behaviour was used to handle any situation presented.
Community Policing challenges this approach by creating a dynamic within law enforcement officials to build trust and relationships with their communities, dismantling this in and out “enforcer” approach. More understanding is needed to establish this philosophy within police departments to create it as an overall staple in police response tactics. Although, this can’t only rest on the shoulders of local law enforcement to create this change within departments, but community policing must also be embraced by the communities, governments responsible for policies/law and the elected officials serving nationwide.