Table of Contents
Different authors have defined community policy in different ways. However, the scholars have described the concept of community policing as a philosophy rather than a program or a tactic with three main features which include partnering with the police and the citizens, an approach to solving problems and organizational decentralization (Somerville, 2009). Community policing can be defined as a philosophy which aims at promoting the development of strategies to organize and unite the community with an objective of minimizing issues affecting public safety such as crime as well as social unrests (Seagrave, 2004). An instance where the citizens partner with police forces to work together with a purpose of minimizing crime and thereby making their neighborhoods safe can be regarded as community policing.
Community policing entails creating connections among the media, metropolitan organizations, profit-generating corporations, citizens and nonprofit organizations with a goal of implementing strategies to fight against crime. Such a philosophy is based community’s ability to implement measures that can prevent crime when involved in programs of promoting safety.
Despite the fact that, the country has recruited and deployed a high number of police officers to maintain peace all around the country, the public is still faced with safety issues such as crimes and social unrests. The city of Houston has been identified to vigorously growing with new buildings being constructed and population growing (Turner, 2017). At the same time, crimes have been on the rise. The Memorial Management District has reported that crimes such as break-ins to vehicles have become common. The management points out that it is not safe to just park your car and leave (Memorial District, 2016). It suggests that motor vehicle owners should lock their property properly into their cars before leaving the parking, however safety is not guaranteed.
The country’s constitution gives Americans the right to protection. The police have been given the full responsibility to protect all citizens against all forms of crime and to ensure safety to the public. However much the police officers would try to provide safety to the public, without the involvement of the community, the police would have a difficult time in fighting crime. There is a need for the nation to get the community informed of their responsibility to recognize and appreciate the police humanity. There is a need for Houston to embrace community policing if it has to eradicate the crime at hand. Community policing would unite the police and the citizens and hence lay a strong foundation of fighting crime.
Historical background of community policing
Scholars have divided policing history in three eras which are distinguished by the policing strategies adopted.
Political era; Dated back in the 1840’s when police were introduced into municipalities and ended in early 19th century (Rosenbaum, 2007). It was marked with a close connection between the police and politics. In the U.S., the era was characterized by struggles among political groups to run the American police. Police services ranged from preventing crime, maintaining law and order to social services. Police during this era used the tactic of foot patrol to function. However, the police and politician relationship resulted in conflicts between leaders especially between those who wanted to reform the urban areas and the local ward leaders in enforcing laws and ensuring morality in the urban areas. Corruption had prevailed in police functions and thus had led to increased immorality in the urban areas (Kelling & Moore, 2006). The police organizations were then reformed in the early 20th century after a reform which was initiated by Vollmer, the chief police in Berkeley in 1920.
Reform era; Vollmer and his colleagues Wilson and Hoover, reformed the corrupt body of investigation in the 20th century into an honest body which was named the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI (Rosenbaum, 2007). The FBI was intended to enforce law and order by standing against issues of immorality, crime issues and cases of lawlessness. The police majorly implemented the law by fighting crime. The era was also marked by an intimate relationship between the police and the citizens. It was the responsibility of the citizens to call the police after a crime occurrence and giving evidence when called upon as witnesses. The foot patrol tactic was then widely used. The police dealt with all crime incidents including those initiated by the citizens and the police as well. They were perceived as heroes and lonely standing between crime and good citizens.
It was then recognized that adopting foot patrol tactic in police functioning intensified the intimate relationship between the police and the citizens, reduced fear of crime among citizens, improved the morale of police in performing their duties and also citizens had increased satisfaction with the police force (Kelling & Moore, 2006). The community was thereby getting involved in crime reduction which gave rise to the community problem-solving era; community policing.
It was realized that citizens would provide reliable information that would help the police in dealing with crime. The community problem-solving era is therefore based on Goldstein and his colleagues’ discovery which pointed out that it was enjoyable for police officers to execute their work within a holistic approach which embraces working with citizens and organizations in solving problems (Kelling & Moore, 2006). The police acknowledged that citizens play a major role in endorsing order maintenance. Community policing is entirely relying upon the close connection between police forces and citizens. It is characterized by the use of various tactics such as, foot patrol, organizing and consulting the community, gathering information and programs which involve walking and riding as well as knock-on-door procedures (Greene, 2004).
Community policing and citizen interaction as a key topic of study
Theft cases have been on the rise in Houston city which could be attributed to the fast growth rate of the town. Car owners do not find it safe for them to park their cars and hang out comfortably. My friend’s car was once broken into, and his laptop among other items stolen while in parking. Despite that, there were many people around and the fact that the businesses around were open, no one seemed interested in helping us. The topic was thus selected purposely to point out the need of involving the Houston community in eradicating crime in the city for the safety of the public.
Objectives and goals of the paper
In this task, I will describe the importance of adopting community policing in preventing crime in Houston. Also, I will point out possible ways to prevent robbery in Houston city.
About Houston city
Houston is located 290 45’N and 950 22’ W adjacent to Buffalo Bayou banks at an altitude of 43 feet in the U.S. It was founded in 1836. It is among the most populous cities and classified the fourth in the U.S. As at 2010, the population in the city had grown to about 2.1 million people from 2,396 people in 1850 (Turner, 2017). At present, there are about 90 different languages which are being spoken in the city.
Economy wise, Houston is ranked the 22nd and the 2nd in employment growth rate in the U.S. The city is thriving in energy, aeronautical and technological industries (Turner, 2017). In the year 2006, in a study to determine “best places for business and careers” in the U.S., the metropolitan zone of Houston was ranked the 1st in Texas and the 3rd in the U.S.
The most violent crime evident in Houston is robbery. It is estimated that the probability of any Houstonian being a victim of robbery is 4.51 per 1,000 people (Scout, 2015). Theft of property is high in the city. About 29.79 in 1,000 of peoples’ property is stolen. An article presented in the African-American News and Issues newspaper indicate that some robbers rob while armed with guns (Jones, 2017).
What I have learned
The topic, two main lessons to students and teachers. Firstly, intimate relationship between the police and the community is the key to effective community policing. There is, therefore, need for the police department to establish good relations with the citizens if they have to work together to prevent crime (Brogden & Nijhar, 2013). There is a need for the police to show the community they are genuinely concerned about their safety.
Secondly, it points out that ensuring public safety is not a discrete responsibility of the police. On the contrary, the public in partnership with the police is responsible for its safety. It means that, if the community does not cooperate with the police in preventing crime, then the police solely may not effectively eradicate crime in the nation (Brogden & Nijhar, 2013). There is thus need for the community to be educated on the need of participating in policing to fight crime.
Solutions to safety issues (theft and robbery) that face Houston
The main solution to these safety issues is community policing. There is a need for the police and the Houstonians to work in partnership with the police to fight against robbery. It is evident that when such crimes occur there are citizens who witness the actions. With effective community policing such witnesses would communicate to the police and thereby making it easier for the police to bring the lawbreakers to justice.
Presently, community policing in Houston is being addressed by the Houston Police Department through Houston Police Foundation, a nonprofit body which was formed by leaders of business organizations in Houston with a mission of encouraging Houstonians to get involved in promoting safety in the city (Houston Police Foundation, 2017). The body funds training, modern technology and planned activities that are aimed at enhancing communication and good relation between the police and the community. The Houston Police Department also moves out to meet with community leaders to discuss about public safety. In these meetings they indulge in activities to promote their relationship with the community as well (Maness, 2017).
- Brogden, M., & Nijhar, P. (2013). Community policing. Routledge.
- Greene, J. (2004). Community Policing in America: Changing the Nature, Structure, and Function of the Police (pp. 307-330). Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/criminal_justice2000/vol_3/03g.pdf?q=understanding-community-policing
- Houston Police Foundation. (2017). Houstonpolicefoundation.org. Retrieved 7 November 2017, from http://www.houstonpolicefoundation.org/about
- Jones, R. (2017). SUSPECTS WANTED IN ROBBERY AT 10301 CLUB CREEK. African-American News And Issues. Retrieved from http://www.aframnews.com/suspects-wanted-in-robbery-at-10301-club-creek/
- Kelling, G. L., & Moore, M. H. (2006). The evolving strategy of policing. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.
- Maness, T. (2017). HPD captain Colin Weatherly discusses public safety in Kingwood, Summerwood. Community Impact Newspaper. Retrieved from https://communityimpact.com/houston/lake-houston-humble-kingwood/people/2017/05/02/hpd-captain-colin-weatherly-discusses-public-safety-kingwood-summerwood/
- Memorial District. (2016). Public Safety | Memorial Management District. Memorialdistrict.org. Retrieved 7 November 2017, from http://www.memorialdistrict.org/public-safety
- Rosenbaum, D. (2007). Police innovation post 1980: Assessing effectiveness and equity concerns in the information technology era. Institute for the Prevention of Crime Review, 1, 11-44.
- Scout. (2015). Houston, TX Crime Rates and Statistics – NeighborhoodScout. Neighborhoodscout.com. Retrieved 7 November 2017, from https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/tx/houston/crime
- Seagrave, J. (2004). Defining community policing. American Journal of Police, 15(2), 1-22.
- Somerville, P. (2009). Understanding community policing. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 32(2), 261-277.
- Turner, S. (2017). Facts and Figures. Houstontx.gov. Retrieved 7 November 2017, from http://www.houstontx.gov/abouthouston/houstonfacts.html