As a police officer the most important part of your job besides coming home safe, is the community. You are there to protect and serve. One of the best ways to equip yourself to do so is community policing. While many smaller departments have long engaged in community policing, there are still all size departments that could learn to work with community policing.
The practice of community policing isn’t a new one, in fact, it is just an old practice with a new name. Community policing is the practice of law enforcement working with the community to get to know their residents and connect with them on a personal level. You build partnerships with the community including both businesses and residents.
It has been shown that communities where officers take a strong interest in their community, have reduced crime and more reporting by the public.
In order to engage in community policing departments are finding ways to connect. Here are some of the best ones.
Identify Nonprofits or Volunteer Groups That Need Help
Volunteers and nonprofits do a lot for our communities and helping them out is important. See what your agency can do to help those helping others in the community. Sometimes this takes the form of sending officers to help out with the needs of the community.
Mandate Time Out Of The Car
Patrol cars have really helped out modern policing. Officers can now get to calls faster and can do a better job at saving lives. However, police cars make it harder for officers to interact with the community. This is why many departments are now requiring officers to take a certain portion of their shift outside of their cars and on foot. It helps the members of the community get to know them, or at least recognize the people they will be calling for help.
Identifying and Fixing Problems In The Community
Another great way for departments and officers to help out is to identify problems in the community and come up with solutions. An example of this could be finding that the community could benefit from CPR and first aid training, then having an officer or two become instructors so that the community is a safer place.
Holding Police Forums
People are always looking for ways that they can give their government feedback. One way to handle this is to set up a regular forum to hear from those in the community or communities that you serve. This could be put on by a liaison officer but it is great to have members from throughout the department present.
Community Academies and Volunteer Officers
Many people are curious as to what exactly police officers do. Some want to be able to help out but aren’t interested in becoming a full time police officer. Community academies are programs to orient the public to policing. This often gives them a view into patrolling, evidence gathering, the equipment officers use, and of course, a little time on the range.
Volunteer officers are used in departments around the country to help where there are shortages of officers. These people are not certified police officers or peace officers. Instead, they are volunteers who respond to accident scenes, assist with traffic control, and help out the community. Being a volunteer officer instills a sense of pride in one’s community and hopefully, it can stir others to take on a more active role.
Coffee with a Cop Programs
Around the country programs with titles similar to coffee with a cop have been taking off. Once a month or so, departments send a police officer to a community cafe to speak with the public. The relaxed setting and relaxed demeanor of the officers allows for the public to feel more comfortable asking questions and bringing up concerns. This alone is a great way for the community to connect.
Do you have an idea for community policing your department could take on? What are you waiting for? Police departments need to connect with the public. This connection helps to clear up many of the misconceptions that revolve around blue uniforms. Plus, if you have a good idea, your department probably wants to hear it.
Did you just get a job as a law enforcement officer or are you trying to get one?
Law enforcement is a very rewarding career, one that can enhance your life and benefit you greatly. Preparing for a job in law enforcement shares some similarities to other careers. At the same time it has unique challenges to overcome.
Let’s take a moment to examine how you can prepare for a job as a law enforcement officer.