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Cover Story

The Bias Against Community Oriented Policing

Across America law enforcement agencies have implemented Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solv­ing, hereafter referred to as COPPS, a new name for an old method of policing some still refer to as "professionalism."

October 01, 1998  |  by Andrew J. Borrello

COPPS Continually Evolving

Formal COPPS is in its infancy. Its application and practice should never be con­sidered finished. COPPS must be im­proved upon continually and be given the opportunity, through personnel, capability, and through administrative courage, to change with society. Flexibility and imag­ination are key elements. If the implementation of COPPS is problematic, if it causes friction among personnel, if it is viewed as an ineffective waste of time, or if it does not meet desired results, then change it.  Alter it.  Modify it.  Custom fit COPPS to your police department and your community until it is effective and successful.

COPPS philosophy and strategies should not be blamed for improper implementation or mistakes that are not corrected by those responsible.  COPPS' success or failure is in the hands of those who participate in it.  It has the potential to deliver sweeping success based on hard work and achievement or it can e a failure, criticized and blamed by those who find comfort in mediocrity and refuse to change for the better.

Thoughts on Community Oriented Policing

"As a retired officer with 25 years of service wit the Detroit Police Department, and now the executive director of NAPO, I've been a supporter of community oriented policing for many years.

"When I was a rookie in the late 1960's, it was a requirement that we got to know the business owners and residents in our assigned patrol area.  This assisted in establishing relationships and communication with the people in our area, and served as a resource for fighting crime.

"That all changed in my police department in the early 1970's with the advent of the 9-1-1 system.  At that point, instead of doing preventative police work, we became strictly reactive and ran from one call to the next.

"I am truly excited that management and research organizations now once again see the importance of face-to-face contact and communication with the people we are sworn to protect.  However, for community oriented policing to truly be effective, management must commit the necessary resources to keep staffing levels at 100 percent."

Robert T. Scully, Executive Director, National Organization of Police Organizations

 "Community Policing when put into action can mean many different strategies and tactics to police professionals.  There are as many options, plans ad definitions as there are opportunities to improve the way we serve our communities.

"For the Santa Ana Police Department, community policing has been a tremendously strong and long-lasting positive influence on our department's reputation and the well-being of our community.

"We have been able to reduce the Part 1 Crime by over 50 percent in the last six years, to the lowest level wince 1965, with fewer police officers than we had 12 years ago.  During this same time period, our population expanded by over 40 percent.

"Of the 100 largest cities in the nation, we have the lowest median income and the youngest median age (26)of any city in America.  What we have been able to accomplish as a team, given demographics is nothing short of a minor miracle.

"We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those who paved eh way in the development of community policing philosophy, for it has made a significant difference in our community and for the entire department.

"It has helped us to gain the respect and admiration of the mayor, city council and the entire community.  It is the only way to do business if you plan to be successful in dealing with the new realities of policing."

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