Bud Emerson | Klish Way
For about two decades during my career as an organization development (OD) specialist I ran a police management program for new lieutenants in departments all over California. I do not know much about policing methodologies, but I did learn quite a bit from police leaders on my faculty about the community policing model. Understanding the difference between traditional policing and community policing should inform our consideration of law enforcement alternatives for Del Mar.
Community policing turns traditional policing on its head by forming a relationship with the community rather than dictating to the community. It involves direct community participation by forming partnerships between the police and the public. These partnerships focus on gathering information from neighborhoods about problems they are experiencing and then working together on strategies and solutions. The goal is to move from a reactive mode to a preventive mode, not just catching the bad guys but improving the safety and quality of life of the good guys, cops moving more toward a service model and away from a para-military, crime fighting model.
Traditionally, law enforcement receives calls for service, they respond and handle each situation appropriately. Employing a community policing model, underlying conditions which cause an incident can be addressed in a way that reduces the likelihood of a reoccurrence. Input from the neighborhood helps devise a solution that is appropriate to that neighborhood. Only members of the neighborhood truly know what it will take to solve problems in the most satisfactory manner.
Communication is the key. Developing a relationship between the cops and each neighborhood improves communication and understanding. These relationships take time to build trust and understanding. Of course, frequent turnover makes it more difficult to build that mutual trust and understanding.
According to Bertus Ferreira, author of The Use And Effectiveness of Community Policing In A Democracy, “Community policing is a philosophy of full service personalized policing, where the same officer patrols and works in the same area on a permanent basis, from a decentralized place, working in a proactive partnership with citizens to identify and solve problems.”
Community policing works well in both high crime and low crime areas. It is especially effective in communities that are not crime ridden, but are striving to improve their quality of life. Del Mar already has long experience with City employees who make an effort to understand who we are and how we want to enjoy our community. We have a long tradition of service from our lifeguards, our fire fighters, our planners, our Public Works folks. Our Ranger is already employing a very effective community policing model but is limited by law to our beach and park areas. The common elements in all of these units are trust, understanding, communication, and problem solving. Exactly what we could get with community policing.