Community policing

Evidence Rating  
Evidence rating: Scientifically Supported

Strategies with this rating are most likely to make a difference. These strategies have been tested in many robust studies with consistently positive results.

Health Factors  
Date last updated
Community in Action

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 areas1. 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 community2, 3.

What could this strategy improve?

Expected Benefits

Our evidence rating is based on the likelihood of achieving these outcomes:

  • Increased satisfaction with law enforcement

Potential Benefits

Our evidence rating is not based on these outcomes, but these benefits may also be possible:

  • Improved neighborhood safety

  • Reduced crime

  • Increased problem solving skills

What does the research say about effectiveness?

There is strong evidence that community policing increases residents’ satisfaction with police3, 4.

Community policing may reduce residents’ fear of crime, and increase feelings of safety and perceptions of police legitimacy3. 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 activity5. 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 practices6. 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 interventions43, 7, 8.

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 policing6, 9, 10.

How could this strategy impact health disparities? This strategy is rated no impact on disparities likely.
Implementation Examples

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services in the U.S. Department of Justice supports community policing practices through its Community Policing Development program11 and the Minority Youth Violence Prevention: Integrating Public Health and Community Policing Approaches12 program.

Implementation Resources

ICMA-Community policing guide - International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Community policing explained: A guide for local government. Washington, D.C.: U.S. 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, D.C.: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). 2016.

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


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1 US DOJ-COPS 2014 - Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). Community policing defined. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice (U.S. DOJ); 2014.

2 US DOJ-COPS 2016 - Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). The State of Policing in the United States, Volume 1. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice (U.S. DOJ); 2016.

3 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.

4 Campbell-Mazerolle 2013 - Mazerolle L, Bennett S, Davis J, Sargeant E, Manning M. Legitimacy in policing. Campbell Systematic Reviews. 2013:9.

5 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.

6 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.

7 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.

8 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.

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

10 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.

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

12 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.