The Rapidian

Ten Principles of Community Policing: Part Three

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Exploring our ethical responsibility to help our neighbors, particularly the most vulnerable, and upholding this in all aspects of community policing.
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By Lindy Nawrocki



If Community Policing is sustained by mutual trust and respect, then the more flourishing communities that result may extend outside of merely the neighbors and their officer. Having concern for our neighbors is not merely for the family next door, it includes having an awareness of what is happening all around us.

This year marked the 31st annual National Night Out, on August 5th. The Creston Neighborhood Association held their celebration at Briggs Park. National Night Out is more than just an evening of fun at the park, but is known as America’s Night out against Crime. National Night Out brings neighbors together in meaningful involvement. In Dubuque, Wisconsin a 2013 burglary led to a neighbor calling the police. While this behavior may seem commonplace to many, if this call were not made, the man committing the crime would not have been caught. Simply stated, minding our own business and keeping to ourselves is not always the best way. If we are not keeping an eye out for neighbor’s homes and families, this is not bettering our communities. If we are not participating in neighborhood awareness events, meeting new neighbors and getting to know their schedules and patterns, we are missing out on an opportunity in itself to reduce crime.  

The fifth principle of community policing is Ethics, Legality, Responsibility, and Trust. As Wisconsin Police Lieutenant Scott Baxter said in response to that particular burglary, "It's just a chance to break down some of those barriers, I guess, between neighbors and citizens and the law enforcement and realize that we're all on the same team and we're not going to tolerate criminal behavior, criminal activity; we're going to fight it as a team.” Being a team requires trust in particular, but also upholding the same values that we should hope our neighbors will, as well. This works to encourage mutual accountability and respect amongst neighbors, their community officers, but also with themselves and trusting their own instincts.

 Because community police officers do not follow a more traditional role in policing, their roles can assist more traditional roles. In particular since the 24/7 police officers typically are those with more traditional roles. Since these traditional-role officers are nearly always available in crises, community officers can help to decrease crime even while they are not on-duty. The sixth principle is Expanding the Police Mandate. By creating more awareness, mutual respect and accountability, and by enhancing community dialogue by listening to neighbors, community officers can help to set the stage for more traditional officers. Community policing practices encouraged and heeded by an officer during the day truly can decrease crime during the evening.

This trust and accountability also helps to create awareness of who our most vulnerable in society are. The seventh principle of community policing is Helping Those with Special Needs. While exploring new ways to make neighborhoods safer, successful community policing initiatives increase quality of life for those who require the most help. The most vulnerable in society are identified as seniors, elders, juveniles, minorities, the poor, the disabled, and the homeless.  Police and community dialogue may promote better ideas to serve these groups.

In Omaha, Nebraska the Neighborhood Center started the ‘Omaha Cares’ initiative in 2008. This was the result of wanting to do something after the deaths of a single mother, her child, and others that could very obviously have been prevented. The executive director of the Neighborhood Center, Ron Abdouch, said at the time, “We're not asking people to be intrusive or to violate privacy, but there are lots of ways that relatives, friends and neighbors can help sometimes-vulnerable people.” The neighborhoods in Omaha were described as “the glue that holds the community together” and the initiative as providing tips that just “make good sense.” Ultimately, caring citizens can reduce a lot of time that the emergency response team members would otherwise be spending to eradicate and solve crime. This is the third in a series of articles on Community Policing. 

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