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Community Policing in the United States Essay

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Updated: Jul 31st, 2020

Community Policing in The Bronx and Florida

The application of community policing in the Bronx and Florida described in these two cases refers to the differences between the times when the authors of these texts served as police officers and their knowledge by that moment. The story of the Bronx community policing is compared with the earlier times, the 1960s, while the second author describes Florida at the beginning of the 1980s only.

One can single out several key features that made the stories of these cities unique. Five aspects are touching upon differences in community policing in the Bronx and Florida: the officers’ attitude towards the organization of the territory under control, types of crimes, daily routine duties, education and knowledge about policing, and relationships with the community.

First and foremost, the arrangement of the territories is described in different ways. Mr. Dempsey draws attention to his early experience in the Bronx. In the 1960s, most police officers were “foot patrol cops” who had to patrol limited territories. (Dempsey & Forst, 2014, p. 369). Later on, the number of patrol sectors was gradually growing. In comparison, Ms. Forst depicts another type of organization: the whole city was subdivided into three sectors each of which was controlled by the supervisors who assigned staff members. Thus, in Florida, police officers had to control large territories without any transitional phases.

The second aspect pertains to the typical crimes. The Bronx policing community was characterized by the presence of numerous incidents and their consequences: “we would raise from one 911 call to another” (Dempsey & Forst, 2014, p. 369). In Florida, the situation was less stressful: patrol officers were following up minor crimes, and sometimes detectives made reports to supervisors.

As for the usual responsibilities, Mr. Dempsey emphasizes that the previous order allowed being just a police officer who did their job. Community policing resulted in multiple tasks that led, in the author’s opinion, to the loss of connection between the life of the community and the police. Unlike the Bronx, Florida could boast of police officers who volunteered to take part in the Neighborhood Improvement Programs and did their best to give people positive role models. Despite some resentment from colleagues, they succeeded. Moreover, officers were allowed to take risks and seek for non-standard decisions.

The next aspect on which the authors focus is training and knowledge. The Bronx police officers did not have “a concept known as community policing then” (Dempsey & Forst, 2014, p. 369). To put it bluntly, they did not concentrate on theoretical issues and applied their skills to practice without having extensive academic training. However, Ms. Forst underlines that their new boss introduced training in problem-oriented policing as an integral part of the work.

Finally, relationships with communities are described in different ways. For Mr. Dempsey, the Bronx community policing brought negative changes as he could not communicate with good people directly and be their “amigo” and the person whom criminals disliked (Dempsey & Forst, 2014, p. 369). In comparison, Ms. Forst’s experience in Florida was remarkable: she viewed the police department as part of the community and even its extension (Dempsey & Forst, 2014). In other words, she valued the cooperation with the community and continues to do so.

Arguments Against Community Policing

Although community policing is often welcomed, some researchers believe it has many disadvantages and provide arguments against it. As a rule, the arguments may be subdivided into three groups:

  • the suggestion that community policing is not “real” police work;
  • the idea that there is insufficient time for the work required by community policing;
  • the opinion that problem-solving is the province of other organizations (Brown, 2012).

The first argument implies that the work of police officers must be limited by the narrow mandate of law enforcement (Brown, 2012). It means that the task of the police is to enforce the law while other specialized organizations should concentrate on work with communities. The police are believed to have been created for the administration of laws and their protection.

The second argument promotes the idea that the system does not give police officers enough time. They ought to pay attention to numerous members of the community under their control, but they actually fail in establishing all necessary contacts. This fact correlates with the message transmitted by Mr. Dempsey. Since a community is large in the vast majority of cases, police officers are automatically unable to take into account all persons.

The third group of arguments conveys the idea that other agencies should address communities. Because the duties of different organizations often overlap, none of them can work effectively and enhance the situation.

Washington, DC and Community Policing

To understand how Washington, D.C. participates in community policing, I found the information in a professional journal and contacted Sergeant Gerthaline Pollock from the Administrative Office via e-mail. I discovered that the policing philosophy within the District of Columbia was based on four principles:

Improving community ties. While a zero-tolerance approach to any criminal offense is sometimes effective, the example of Washington, D.C. illustrates that this approach might give the opposite effect. To fix people’s fear of crime and distrust of the police, the philosophy of the department had to switch back to one of the initial principles of policing that the primary task of policing was to prevent crimes, not to respond to them (Lanier, 2012).

  • Developing sources. This idea refers to the necessity to establish relationships with the residents: if people trust a police officer, they are likely to provide tremendous amounts of information about the crime (Lanier, 2012). Indeed, the history of Washington, D.C. demonstrates that people share information more frequently if they know with whom they communicate.
  • Increasing the usage of new technologies. In Washington, D. C., the most sophisticated innovations are available to law enforcement nowadays: mobile computers, license plate readers, closed-circuit television, gunshot detection, and complex analytical and predictive software (Lanier, 2012). However, the possession should be combined with the ability to exploit these sources: in this context, the role of the high-qualified specialists of the District of Columbia is significant.
  • Ensuring strong accountability at different stages of information circulating. This principle demonstrates that information should be shared: isolated in individual units, it not only fails to bring benefit but also adds problems since time and efforts are wasted (Lanier, 2012). Apart from the data streams, employees concentrate on information assessment and control every fact and detail.

Ms. Pollock agreed with this information and explained that community policing was actively supported by the organization. She stated that the key advantage of this approach was the violent crimes rates reduction, especially those connected with drugs. Overall, the system of community policing is accepted in the District of Columbia nowadays.


Brown, L. P. (2012). Policing in the 21st century: Community policing. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.

Dempsey, J. S., & Forst, L. S. (2014). An introduction to policing. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Lanier, C. L. (2012). Policing our nation’s capital using 21st century principles. The Police Chief, 79, 20-24.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Community Policing in the United States." July 31, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/community-policing-in-the-united-states/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Community Policing in the United States'. 31 July.

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