Proactive Law Enforcement Issues and Best Practices
Every Police Department has their own unique style for their method of policing. There are characteristics that will distinguish a proactive department. When a department transitions to a different form of policing priorities need to be categorized in order of importance. In every change there will be obstacles that must be overcome.
There are benefits that can be associated with change. Although there are different styles of policing, transitioning to a different style will depend on the leadership.The current form of policing is reactive. Which is similar to the saying “close the barn doors the cows are out,” attempting to fix a problem after the fact. They arrive at a crime scene and take down the necessary information and do the required paperwork and pass it up the ladder. Traditional reactive policing is defined “as enforcing and upholding the law” and excludes the opinion of the public in forming objectives and goals (MacDonald, 1980).
The proactive department allows officers to take the initiative and act on their own. This is accomplished by collecting information and watching high crime areas. With the information gathered, the police can develop strategies to suppress crime. The proactive department goals have to be considered by the effect they will have on the community and public opinion can also have an effect on the goals (Policing styles: reactive versus proactive policing, 2013).
Proactive policing is not only concentrating patrols in crime target areas, but listening to the concerns of the community. This can be accomplished through community programs, which there are many, such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), neighborhood watch and tip lines. To change from a reactive to a proactive police force changes must be made. The priority would be focused within the department. The biggest challenge in every department is the “recruitment, hiring and retention” of officers. Proactive policing is a philosophy that all officers must embrace to be effective. In the recruitment arena there may be a lack of qualified applicants. Hiring the right person will take time after all the checks, and in that time the applicant may find other employment. Retention is a huge factor.
Officers may get fed up with aspects of the department, or find higher paying departments to go to. As the age of the officer increases, their focus changes to retirement, and just making to that day. The officers need to be empowered to take the initiative. Supervisors need to be held accountable for particular neighborhoods.
There must be additional training. The leadership at all levels would have to embrace proactive policing and take an active role in training and implementation of the change (Diamond & Mead Weiss, 2009).
The biggest hurdle that has to be overcome is implementing the change. When making such a change the organizational culture will change (Hess & Orthmann, 2012). The second greatest impediment to implementing a proactive style of policing is the unions. In a way the union will have a major influence in how the officers work. In fact the New York City Police (NYPD) was informed by their union, not to respond to calls “for crimes that aren’t occurring right in front of them.” This was due to new laws concerning discrimination and making the process easier for law suits (Chumley, 2013).
There are benefits for proactive policing. The crime rate will drop, and there will be more cooperation between police and the community. There would be more respect towards the police and more interaction within the community. The community will feel safer when there is a visible police presence. This will aid the police in establishing a higher level of trust, which is a two-way street. Trust cannot be one-sided.
Even though proactive policing is necessary and the advantages outweigh the impediments. There has to be commitment on all levels of the department including the union to achieve the goal. The goals of the community have to dovetail with the goals of the department. The recruitment, hiring, and retention of officers will determine the future of proactive policing.
By William Em
In the 21st century we have seen decline in crime compare to the way crime was in the 80’s and 90’s but that still does not mean that we do not have no crime at all. This is why society is still demanding that law enforcement do not be satisfied with just that but figure out more ways to preventing crimes such as drug dealing in certain neighborhoods, gang activities, and robberies/burglaries. The communities want police agencies to become more proactive then reactive. They want police officers to become more indulge in their communities that need support not only when something happens and they get a call from dispatch but when they are not at a call as well. (MacDonald, 1980).
The presents of police officers doing routine circulation of these neighborhoods known as the high crime zone areas will make the people of these communities feel safer and the criminals would now know they have to be twice as more discreet or move to another neighborhood. This is also known as police officers acting on their own initiative. Furthermore, these police agencies need to become more involved with the citizens by hearing their concerns and arranging meetings in schools, or other places to educate them how they can help law enforcement as well in reducing crime in their respective neighborhoods. (Keller, 2013). This will now built a bond between the community members and law enforcement officers and will show citizens that these agencies do want to make a difference.
This will not only built a strong bond but will also build the trust back within the communities in need of these officers. (Morreale, 2004). When thinking of converting from a reactive form of policing to one that is more proactive my priorities will be to form a strong bond with the community. For instance, instead of police officers using the traditional way of reactive policing where they just come to the scene after the crime has already been committed, why not do more routine patrol even when there is no call from dispatch.
I want my officers to become more proactive by setting up meetings with community leaders and start programs such as neighborhood watch which allows the citizens to report any suspicious activities that may be occurring during the times police of not in the area. (Keller, 2013).For example, if a neighborhood watchman sees people who are posted at a local grocery store and they could potentially are selling drugs or someone looking into windows of apartments or houses he or she can call police and preventing the crime. That is how we start to reverse the reactive policing to the proactive policing but first and foremost there has to be trust between the law enforcement officers and the community members or there is no foundation to work on. (Morreale, 2004).
One of the things I see as the greatest impediment to implementing a proactive style of policing is continuing to keep the faith and trust from the community members. If you do not have that then what is the point of the proactive policing then. Police agencies have to be aware that the community trust in them is the biggest priority they have to remember. Also staying on top of these areas that are crime prone is another thing. Police agencies cannot show the community that this will be something that they will just do until things get better and then move on, they have to show the community members that they will continue to show their presents in these areas for good. MacDonald, 1980).
One of the great benefits that I see when implementing a proactive style of policing is the fact that people in the community will now trust that the police officers will be doing a better job in trying to make their community a safer environment for them and their children. There is no greater benefit for a police agency to know that its communities are working with them in the same fight against crime instead of them just remaining silent and wanting to assist police with solving crimes. (Keller, 2013).
By Miguel Cas
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