Poll Call: Do the pros of community policing outweigh the cons?
By PoliceOne Staff
One of the newest trends to hit policing in recent years is transparency: the idea that communities will better trust and be better informed of the goings on of their local police department if the agency is making an effort to share their daily endeavors, most often through social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
With transparency, though, comes controversy. Why are we tweeting at crime scenes? Why are department hires and fires being made public? Why have we made room in the budget for a social media manager?
More successful police department Facebook pages have proven that communities really do enjoy connecting online with their local police. But is it breaking the walls of mistrust between police and civilians?
We asked our PoliceOne Facebook fans about their agencies’ community policing policies and strategies to see what’s being done and what could be done better. Nearly 600 fans responded. Check out their answers below.
1. How would you describe the relationship between your department and the community you police?
Nearly 58 percent of those polled agreed that their agency had room to improve their community policing efforts.
2. When fans were asked how important community policing was in their opinion, over 50 percent said they valued it’s importance and thought more effort should be made towards it, and another 29 percent believed their department successfully executes community policing.
3. We asked our fans to rank which community policing strategies they found to be most effective on a scale of one to five, one (orange) being the least effective and five (green) being the most effective.
From left to right, the options were: Active use of social media, public events where cops and civilians can meet/talk, bike and/or foot patrol, the publicizing of department decisions, and implementing D.A.R.E. officers or SROs.
Bike or foot patrol and the presence of officers in schools nearly tied for what police found to be the most effective way to police.
Social media and public events were voted the least effective of the five strategies.
Last, we asked officers to tell us what effective strategies their agencies have been successfully implementing in their towns. Below are ten of the top responses:
• “Start from your rookie days. Be nice to the public. I did that and now the public is always understanding and willing to work with me.”
• “Police advisory committee, where citizens can come ask questions about department policies or raise concerns on local issues.”
• “Citizen academies and ride along programs.”
• “Each night, I try to walk the park in our district. The kids love it, the parents get a chance to discuss and share concerns and it gets me out of the car!”
• “We do "trunk or treat" where officers fill their patrol car trunks with candy, park at their respective police stations and children get to trick or treat there on Halloween.”
• “In Corinth, Texas, we have transparency, a wonderful Citizen's Academy, CSI camp, VIPS program, heavy interaction with community events including City meetings, Night out and various things. It creates a positive image and trust that keeps people voting in favor of our requests during budgeting and making city ordinances.”
• “Community policing, in my opinion, is immersing yourself in your community. Get out of the car once in a while and hang out at a busy park for a while and mingle. Foot patrol your downtown district and visit shop owners. The little things lead to bigger ones.”
• “I just get out of my car and talk to people. On day shift I stop at businesses and talk to the clerks or owners and ask what I can do to better serve them.”
• “Just treat everyone with respect and take a few extra seconds (when it's safe) to explain things. It goes a long way.”
• “We have an "epolicing" program where our residents can communicate with us and we can communicate with them (send out weekly arrest data, particular crimes in particular areas, special events, and safety tips).”