Community policing is perhaps the most misunderstood and frequently abused theme in police management during this decade. In the past few years, it has become fashionable for police agencies to initiate community policing, often with little notion of what that phrase means. Indeed, all manner of organizational tinkering has been labeled community policing. But community policing is not a program.
Instead, community policing is a value system which permeates a Police Department, in which the primary organizational goal is working cooperatively with individual citizens, groups of citizens, and both public and private organizations to identify and resolve issues which potentially effect the livability of specific neighborhoods, areas, or the city as a whole. Community-based Police Departments recognize the fact that the police cannot effectively deal with such issues alone, and must partner with others who share a mutual responsibility for resolving problems. Community policing stresses prevention, early identification, and timely intervention to deal with issues before they become unwieldy problems. Individual officers tend to function as general-purpose practitioners who bring together both government and private resources to achieve results. Officers are encouraged to spend considerable time and effort in developing and maintaining personal relationships with citizens, businesses, schools, and community organizations.