Community policing entails the cooperation of the police with the citizens of a given neighborhood of jurisdiction with the aim of helping prevent crime and associated social problems. Some of the benefits of community policing entail the acknowledgment and discussion of the challenges faced by the community with the police, increased transparency and accountability, a reduction in bias and improvement in cultural competency, and increased focus on collaboration and visibility of the police in the community.
Community policing makes it easier for the police to understand the distrust placed in them by the minorities in America. It gives the police department the opportunity to acknowledge the negative experiences of the individuals that have been treated with excessive force by the police. There are many persons in the United States who have memories of the Jim Crow era. The police were used as enforcers of the laws meant to oppress African Americans. The victims of such laws are very hard to convince that the police are meant to serve them. Interacting with members of such communities enables the police to understand the roots of lack of trust and resentment and work towards rectifying that.
Transparency and accountability are easier in the context of community policing. The police involve members of the community in their operations, creating goodwill in the process. When an incident takes place in the community, the police department has an easier time releasing information about it because of the relationship it has with the community. The community can also help in ensuring that the information released about the neighborhood is accurate. Whenever there is a problem in the community, transparency and accountability make it easy for the police to approach members of the community and gather the necessary information without having to resort to coercion.
Police officers are people and bound to have biases depending on their background. If they happen to work in a neighborhood different from their background and experiences, they are bound to make mistakes out of ignorance and lack of cultural competency. Community policing makes the police officers and the members of the community more self-aware and culturally competent. The sense of understanding they share makes it easier for the police to relate to the conditions and circumstances that the community members and living in and vice versa. Many urban settings have variety in racial and ethnic backgrounds. The police officers have to be aware of the nuances involved when dealing with members of each group. There is no easier way of gaining cultural competency than working with the members of the said groups.
Lastly, community policing helps in focusing on collaboration and keeping the police visible in the community. Most people only interact with the police in enforcement contexts. This makes them have a negative perception of the police in general and less appreciative of the work done by the police to improve the safety of their community. Community policing gives the police and members of the community the opportunity and space to interact freely and informally. It gives them the chance to understand each other better. The amity developed in non-enforcement contexts helps the police know the residents and break down personal barriers and stereotypes. The police get to understand which members of the community are law abiding and which ones are not. This helps in mitigating resentment from both sides in their future interactions.