The Strategies of Community Policing in the Reform Era

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Policing strategies have undergone numerous transformations since its official introduction in the ‘reform era,’ to its operations in the ‘new era.’ The ‘standard model’ of policing was established in the 1930s, utilising traditional police approaches in dealing with crime, driving a large proportion of current police activity. The standard model has undergone intense scrutiny and criticism by police scholars as it was established that the reliance on the reactive, response based policing practices, governing operational policing before the innovations in 1990s, was fundamentally unsuccessful in terms of maximising impact on crime rates and use of resources (Drew & Prenzler 2015). In response to this, the ‘advanced model’ or ‘POP’ approach was introduced by Herman Goldstein (1979) as it was argued that the standard model was reactive and should be substituted with a more proactive tactic to identify and target issues that contribute to crime, disorder and other community problems (NIJ 2019). While the standard model had strengths, reflected through some success, there was an abundance of weaknesses in the model’s framework, leading to it being replaced by the advanced model due to its improved processes and attributed benefits. To separate the standard model from the advanced model, an analysis must be delivered discussing the purpose, framework, strengths, weaknesses, and processes of each model. Also, the investigation processes in the ‘Daniel Morcombe’ case will be discussed, identifying its success and ethical issues. To underpin the standard models’ weaknesses, the framework must be comprehended to then critique the practices that follow.

The standard model was formed on the basis that generic tactics for crime reduction could be applied throughout jurisdictions irrespective of the level of crime, the nature of the crime or other disparities. The tactics incorporated in the standard model’s approach included; random patrols, rapid response to emergency calls, generally applied intensive enforcement and arrest policies, increased police numbers and generalised investigations of crime (Centre for Problem-Oriented Policing 2019). Additionally, the purposes of the standard model included; deterring crime, stopping crime in progress, bringing offenders to justice and making people feel safe (Drew & Prenzler 2015). Also, the standard model was based on classical theory, linking the deterrence of crime to certainty, severity, swiftness of punishment and incapacitation (Drew & Prenzler 2015). While the standard model did achieve some success, there were several weaknesses in the model’s framework which had been discovered via many studies.

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The standard model of policing did achieve some success in a few aspects however, the model had several weaknesses as depicted in many studies. Moreover, random patrol operations were delegated to officers due to the assumptions that it created a sense of omnipresence and that the visible presence of police would deter and increase the perception of detection (Drew & Prenzler 2015). It was also believed that random patrol increased the chance of police catching offenders in the act of committing a crime (Drew & Prenzler 2015). However, beginning in 1972, ‘George Kelling’ and a group of researchers from the “Police Foundation” directed an experiment involving 200 police officers from the Kansas City Police Department into the effectiveness of prevention patrol (National Police Foundation 2016). The findings depicted that prevention patrol had no impact on crime rates, citizen fear of crime, attitudes of the community towards the police on the delivery of police services, police response time or traffic arrests (NPF 2016). Additionally, rapid response times was adopted by police as it was assumed that the quicker the police were able to reach a crime scene, the likelihood of arrests would increase, the community’s fear of crime would decrease and the community’s satisfaction with police services would increase (Drew & Prenzler 2015). However, this belief was disproved by the findings of a study delivered by the “Kansas City Police Department” (1977) as researchers discovered that only one-third of the outcomes of all reported severe crimes would have been impacted by rapid police response (Drew & Prenzler 2015). Additionally, this only applied to certain crimes that were either in motion when the report was received or just finished (Cihan, Zhang & Hoover 2019). Furthermore, increased police numbers were believed to deter offenders due to the belief that they were more likely to be detected, arrested and sanctioned for criminal behaviour (Drew & Prenzler 2015). This was proven by an analysis of police numbers and crime rates delivered by “Marvel and Moody” (1996) as they city-level analysis drew a strong correlation between police numbers and the occurrence of crimes such as homicide, burglary, robbery, larceny and auto theft (Drew & Prenzler 2015). Also, the study concluded that the addition of one officer in larger cities resulted in the prevention of six times as much crime as opposed to the addition of an officer in all places (Drew & Prenzler 2015). Due to the standard model having little to no impact on crime, the introduction of the advanced model was crucial in ensuring the safety of the community.

The advanced model of policing encompasses many tactics, veering away from the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach of the standard model, adopting a more proactive approach. These techniques include; Problem-Orientated Policing (POP), Third-Party Policing (TPP), Hot Spots, Reassurance Policing, Community Policing, Procedural Justice, Intelligence-Led Policing, Broken Windows Model and Effective Detective (Drew & Prenzler 2015). Furthermore, POP works off an analytical methodology to develop strategies that both prevent and reduces crime and requires police to systematically analyse issues within the community, search for effective solutions and evaluate the impact of their efforts by testing the solutions (National Institute of Justice 2019). Eck and Spleman (1987) soon developed a framework to apply POP via the use of the SARA (Scanning, Analysis, and Assessment) model (NIJ 2019). Moreover, TPP involves the efforts of persuasion to get third parties such as landlords, parents, local governments and other regulators to show initiative in preventing or reducing crime (Mazerolle & Ransley 2019). TPP generates crime control guardians in regions or situations where it was once lacking or absent (Mazerolle & Ransley 2019). To engage third parties into taking responsibility for crime control, cooperative consultations with community members are underwent or police use coercive threats with the support of a variety of civil and regulatory laws (Mazerolle & Ransley 2019). Additionally, hot spots focus on small geographic regions, particularly of an urban setting where crime is concentrated (Valente 2017). Furthermore, reassurance policing is an approach that recognises the significance of the police communicating a positive image to the public, reassuring the communities faith in the police to perform their jobs successfully (Fleming 2005). Furthermore, community policing is the collaboration of the community and the police to identify and discover a solution to community-related problems (Bureau of Justice Assistance 1994). With the police no longer the only forum of guardians of law and order, all members of the community become an alliance to improve the safety and quality of neighbourhoods (Bureau of Justice Assistance 1994). Moreover, procedural justice focuses on the communication between police and other legal authorities with the public as those interactions shape the public’s perception of the police and their willingness to abide by the law and actual crime rates (Trust & Justice 2019). Additionally, procedural justice is based on ‘Peel’s 9 Principles’ (Trust & Justice 2019). Furthermore, intelligence-led policing targets offenders via overt and covert means, manages crime and disorder hot spots, investigates a linked series of crimes and applies preventative measures, including working with local partnerships to reduce crime and disorder (Ratcliffe 2003). Moreover, the broken windows model of policing focuses on disorders correlation to generating and sustaining more crime (Childress 2016). Disorder leads to community fear and withdrawal, allowing more crime to move into the region due to the decreased levels of informal social control (Childress 2016). This is attended to by addressing minor crime to reduce the major crime and by addressing the signs of disorder to minimalise the fear of crime (Department of Criminology, Law & Society 2018). Lastly, effective detectives involve 22 core skills including; open-mindedness, engaging experts, being up-to-date and ethical and interviewing techniques such as no coercion and interview welfare. Though the advanced model is successful in preventing and reducing crime, it still has several limitations.

While the strategies of the advanced model have improved since the standard model of policing, strengths and weaknesses still apply as no singular model will ever be faultless. Furthermore, one of the strengths of using hot spots is it enables law enforcement agencies to focus limited resources in areas where crime is predicted to occur frequently (NIJ 2019). Focusing limited resources on a small number of crime saturated areas is based on the belief that if the crime could be prevented at those hot spots, then the total occurrence of crime across the city could also be minimalised (NIJ 2019). However, efforts can backfire, transforming into anger and mistrust if the police do not first secure the community’s support and cooperation (Valente 2017). Also, over-saturating an area could lead to police boredom resulting in police cracking down on citizens for minor offenses (Valente 2017). Furthermore, community policing’s strengths include; promoting public safety, enhancing the quality of life, building and strengthening the community and linking the police and the community together (Segrave & Radcliffe 2004). However, community policing is only effective when the community establishes a successful partnership with the police as, without trust and involvement of the community, any attempts at policing would fail (Segrave & Radcliffe 2004). Also, appropriate people would have to head the projects as the objective is to improve the community, not to advance one’s career or motives (Segrave & Radcliffe 2004). Moreover, the broken windows model is effective as it targets signals of disorder to assist to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness to prevent crime, while not displacing it (Childress 2016). However, broken windows theory had become associated with controversial police practices such as the use of ‘stop-and-frisk’ by the ‘New York Police Department (Smith 2015). This program was subject to a racial profiling controversy and should not be treated with ‘zero tolerance,’ but as a process that entails careful training, guidelines and supervision and a positive relationship with the community, linking to community policing (Smith 2015). Furthermore, one of the advanced models most significant progressions was the investigation into ‘Daniel Morecombes’ homicide however, ethical standards had been heavily debated upon.

While the Daniel Morcombe investigation was successful in convicting his rightful murderer, there were some ethical issues regarding the investigation's methods. Moreover, Police Commissioner Ian Stewart’s from Queensland’s Police service stated that the investigation was thorough and that the police service was comfortable with the strategies used to get Brett Cowans confession (McCutcheon & Taylor 2014). The Daniel Morcombe case was believed to be the biggest case that the police service had handled and solved in their 250 years of operations (McCutcheon & Taylor 2014). To solve the Daniel Morcombe case, a relatively new covert policing methodology was utilised to lead to the arrest of Cowan in 2011 (McCutcheon & Taylor 2014). The covert technique used is known as the “Mr. Big” or “Canadian” technique, developed by the ‘Royal Canadian Mounted Police’ in British Columbia in the early 1990s (Connors et al.). The Mr. Big technique is a technique used by undercover police to elicit confessions from suspects, particularly for cold cases (Connors et al.). A fictitious grey area or criminal organisation is then created by the police and the suspect is seduced to join as a relationship is built to gain their confidence (Connors et al.). This then leads to the suspect enlisting their help in a succession of criminal activities (Connors et al.). The underlying premise of this technique is to get suspects to incriminate themselves due to a perceived benefit that they feel safe in obtaining. While this strategy has achieved a 75% success rate and a 95% conviction rate in Canada, there are still some risks in this procedure (Connors et al.). Firstly, the issue of false confessions is a potential flaw of the technique as suspects would readily admit to a criminal offense to receive the potential reward (Connors et al.). Therefore, this could lead to wrongful convictions and sentencing (Connors et al.). Also, Mr big operations are seen as being of high risk as suspects may only incriminate themselves in the circumstances that could be subject to legal challenges (Connors et al.). However, while aspects of the advanced model of policing faces criticism, there have been many improvements since the standard model as reflected in its success to prevent and reduce crime.

Overall, the standard model of policing, introduced in the reform era, was the first official model of policing that aimed to deter crime. The reactive approach of the standard model was unsuccessful in reducing crime rates and did not have appropriate use of resources, resulting in its replacement of the advanced model. The advanced models’ basic premises were proactive, attributing to greater success in preventing and reducing crime. However, the advanced model still faces criticism as reflected in one of Australia’s most notorious investigations, the Daniel Morcombe murder. Though no singular model of policing will ever be unfaultable, and its weaknesses will continuously be analysed and improved to ensure that the community has complete confidence and respect for the police service and that only ethical behaviour, discipline, and professional practice is implemented.

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