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Community policing

Evidence Rating

Scientifically Supported

Health Factors

Community policing, also called community-oriented policing, is a policing philosophy based on community partnership, organizational transformation, and problem solving techniques. This approach requires partnerships between local law enforcement and community members to proactively address immediate public safety issues. Law enforcement uses a team approach rather than special units and officers have long-term assignments to specific geographic areas (US DOJ-COPS 2014). Community policing includes various strategies such as neighborhood newsletters, bike and foot patrols, educational programs in schools, and neighborhood watches set up with police assistance; strategies depend on the needs of each law enforcement agency and community (US DOJ-COPS 2016, ).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased satisfaction with law enforcement

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Improved neighborhood safety

  • Reduced crime

  • Increased problem solving skills

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that community policing increases residents’ satisfaction with police (Campbell-Mazerolle 2013, ). However, additional research is needed to confirm effects on other outcomes, especially crime rates (Campbell-Mazerolle 2013, , ).

Community policing may reduce residents’ fear of crime, and increase feelings of safety and perceptions of police legitimacy (). An evaluation of a partnership between police and local businesses in Westminster, California suggests such efforts can also promote business-friendly environments by decreasing concerns about crime and gang activity (). A study of a Chicago-based community policing program suggests that participating police officers have more favorable perspectives on relationships with residents and participating residents have improved confidence in their ability to solve local problems when community policing meetings use and discuss feedback on their practices (). Some studies suggest that community policing reduces crime rates, especially property crime, but other studies do not find such reductions, perhaps due to variability in interventions (, , ).

Researchers suggest that transparent decision making processes, resources that support problem solving processes, trust between police and residents, and both structural (e.g., decentralized authority) and philosophical (e.g., culture, attitude) organizational change in law enforcement may be important elements for successful community policing (, , ).

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services in the US Department of Justice supports community policing practices through its Community Policing Development program (COPS-CPD) and the Minority Youth Violence Prevention: Integrating Public Health and Community Policing Approaches (MYVP) program.

Implementation Resources

ICMA-Community policing guide - International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Community policing explained: A guide for local government. Washington DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services; 2007.

COPS-Tribal practice - International Association of Chiefs of Police. Promising practices in tribal community policing. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). 2016.

CP examples - Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board. Examples of community-police engagement.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Gill 2014* - Gill C, Weisburd D, Telep CW, Vitter Z, Bennett T. Community-oriented policing to reduce crime, disorder and fear and increase satisfaction and legitimacy among citizens: A systematic review. Journal of Experimental Criminology. 2014;10(4):399–428.

Braga 2015* - Braga AA, Welsh BC, Schnell C. Can policing disorder reduce crime? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency. 2015;52(4):567–588.

Jim 2006* - Jim J, Mitchell FN, Kent DR. Community-oriented policing in a retail shopping center. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management. 2006;29(1):146–157.

Graziano 2014* - Graziano LM, Rosenbaum DP, Schuck AM. Building group capacity for problem solving and police-community partnerships through survey feedback and training: A randomized control trial within Chicago’s community policing program. Journal of Experimental Criminology. 2014;10(1):79–103.

Yilmaz 2013* - Yilmaz S. Tailoring model in reforming police organizations towards community policing. Journal of Organizational Change Management. 2013;26(5):897–924.

Glaser 2010* - Glaser MA, Denhardt J. Community policing and community building: A case study of officer perceptions. The American Review of Public Administration. 2010;40(3):309–325.

Campbell-Mazerolle 2013 - Mazerolle L, Bennett S, Davis J, Sargeant E, Manning M. Legitimacy in policing: A systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews. 2013:1.

Sozer 2013* - Sozer MA, Merlo AV. The impact of community policing on crime rates: does the effect of community policing differ in large and small law enforcement agencies? Police Practice and Research. 2013:14(6);506-521.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

COPS-CPD - Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). The Community Policing Development (CPD) program.

MYVP - Office of Minority Health. HHS and DOJ Award $3M to support innovative approaches to curb youth violence - The Minority Youth Violence Prevention: Integrating Public Health and Community Policing Approaches (MYVP) program. September 30, 2014.

Date Last Updated

Mar 13, 2017