Elements of Responsible Implementation of Community Policing

Community policing is a broad concept that has seen widespread implementation over the past thirty years.  While in 1984 only 143 police agencies nationwide had implemented community policing strategies (Trojanowicz and Harden, 1985) it is likely that a significantly high percentage of the approximately 5,400 U.S. law enforcement agencies in operation today (Officer.com, 2011) have used or are currently using community policing strategies.  Bayley (1994) described four elements which he argued must be utilized in the responsible implementation of community policing strategies as “consultation with community groups regarding their security needs; command devolution so that those closest to the community can determine how to best respond to those needs; mobilization of agencies other than the police to assist in addressing those needs; and remedying the conditions that generate crime and insecurity through focused problem solving” (Gianakis and Davis, 1998).  Community policing, at its very core, requires that law enforcement officials consult and communicate with members and organizations within their community in order to best understand the specific needs of the community.  Such meetings increase communication in both directions, allowing law enforcement to keep community members abreast of important criminal events and patterns while allowing open channels for the community members to keep law enforcement of information that may seem minor or trivial yet could be key to preventing or solving a specific crime or pattern of criminal activity.  Administrators and commanders must empower field officers and line supervisors with the tools and abilities to make decisions necessary to implement department-wide philosophies and policies within their market communities to facilitate greater acceptance and function of the community policing model goals.  One model for command devolution is the concept of Enlightened Leadership as described by Oakley and Kung (1991) that teaches managers and administrators to empower their subordinates to take ownership in their projects and areas of responsibility.  Law enforcement agencies must further acknowledge their own limited resources and abilities to allow for partnerships with other agencies, particularly those in community and social services, to assist citizens within their jurisdictional care.  Such partnerships can have significant impact on the community trust of law enforcement and can also reduce crime and criminal opportunity by reducing or eliminating the impact of certain social issues such as juvenile delinquency, homelessness and substance abuse.  These partnerships and their impact can then lead to the fourth element described by Bayley (1994) of focused problem solving.  Law enforcement officials must work together and partner with community, civic, religious and social service entities to identify the problems within the community that contribute to crime and social insecurity so that those problems can be treated directly.  For example, a community outbreak of juvenile substance abuse that is found to be linked to mental health issues such as depression should not be, and cannot be, resolved through arrest and prosecution of juvenile drug offenders – a more global approach that involves law enforcement, schools, after school activities, mental health workers, social workers, religious leaders, community leaders and parents will likely have a much more power and longer lasting impact.  The law enforcement profession has learned that it is unable to solve community problems such as crime and insecurity on its own – it must actively and continuously partner with the community it both comes from and serves to have the greatest impact.


Agency Search.  (n.d.)  Retrieved on February 27, 2011, from www.officer.com.

Bayley, D. H.  (1994).  International Differences in Community Policing.  The Challenge of Community Policing (pp 278-271).  California: Sage.

Gianakis, G.A., and Davis, III, G.J.  (1998, November).  Reinventing or Repackaging Public Services?  The Case of Community-Oriented Policing.  Public Administration Review, 58(6), 485-498.

Oakley, E. and Krug, D. (1991).  Enlightened Leadership – Getting to the Heart of Change.  Fireside, New York, NY.

Trojanowicz, R.C., and Hardin, H.A.  (1985).  The Status of Contemporary Community Policing.  Michigan: Michigan Sttate University.

© 2011 – 2014, Jeremy Liebbe. All rights reserved.

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About the author

Jeremy Liebbe holds a Master of Science in Forensic Psychology, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Police Science, and is currently completing a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. He has over a decade of law enforcement investigative experience as a detective sergeant with experience including narcotics, crimes against children, and homicide investigations. As a result of his expertise in complex criminal investigations and forensic mental health Jeremy has earned numerous commendations, lectured throughout Texas and in several other states, authored and co-authored over a half dozen published papers, and has provided expert testimony in over a dozen felony trials.