Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Community Policing Initiatives: Time for Renewed Commitment

A disturbing fact, tucked away toward the end of a Reuters report on the rising crime rate nationwide, caught my eye: Community Oriented Policing Services Program (COPS) funding "fell to $102 million in fiscal 2007 from $487 million in 2004 and $1.5 billion in 1998, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors." Over $1 billion in cuts to this significant crime prevention initiative is a tremendous injustice to law enforcement and American communities.

As a practitioner dedicated to community policing for the last 12 years, I have always encouraged its practice. One concrete example is a COPS program administered by the Bergen County Law & Public Safety Institute in partnership with numerous police departments throughout New Jersey. This program allowed law enforcement personnel and private citizens to take courses together, completing their studies with a capstone project leading to certification. It included training modules on:

  • ethics
  • community policing
  • crime prevention
  • diversity
  • conflict resolution and
  • problem solving.
Due to budget cuts, the worthwhile program that built partnerships between law enforcement and the community is virtually non-existent.

In light of current concerns with school and gang violence, terrorism and a rising crime rate, community policing initiatives must be revitalized. Community policing is a profoundly critical philosophy to contemporary crime prevention and reigniting all that it stands for can only have a positive impact on community transformation.

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