What Defunding the Police Might Mean To Your Community: A Return To Community Policing

Community Policing

There is a current push away from a crime-fighting focus for policing towards a model of community policing. The community policing philosophy argues that the professional style of policing (crime-fighting) isolates the police from the community and reduces their knowledge about the neighborhoods they serve, especially when police depend on patrolling in patrol cars. Use of the patrol car prevents personal contacts with citizens. Instead, it is argued, police should get out of their cars and spend more time meeting and helping residents. This would permit the police to help people with a range of problems and in some cases to prevent future problems from arising or growing worse. It is argued if the police know about conflicts between people in the neighborhood, they can try to mediate and perhaps prevent the conflict from growing into a criminal assault or other serious problem.

There are three (3) assumptions that influence community policing philosophy which encourages the police to engage with the citizens living within their neighborhoods in order to provide higher degree of safety:

The first assumption, neighborhood disorder creates fear. Areas with street people, youth gangs, prostitution, and drunks are high crime areas.

The second assumption, just as broken windows are a sign that nobody cares and can lead to more serious vandalism, unintended disorderly behavior is a signal that the community does not care. This also leads to more serious disorder and crime.

The third assumption, if the police are to deal with disorder and thus reduce fear and crime, they must rely on citizens for assistance.

In 2013, Camden, New Jersey eliminated its entire police force that was plagued with corruption and budget cuts, and replaced it with a new one, run by the county. According to a recent June 2020 ABC News release, one Camden official stated the 2013 change was the result of a fiscal crisis and lack of funding. But in a previous published article by CBS News in 2015, it also included corruption.

Defunding or reorganization of the police means that funds are reallocated to different areas. Some funds might be cut completely from the city’s budget, while newly funded areas are created and supported. The entire police force, thus, may be fired and newly highered officers acquired. This does not mean there will be less police officers. On the contrary, there may be a significant higher number of officers in the newly reorganized precinct.

According to official, the organization Camden created was one in which a culture, from the very beginning, was a culture that promoted the notion Camden’s officers would be guardians and not warriors of the city. If their handcuffs and service weapons were to be used, they would be tools of last resort.

In 2014 Camden witnessed a decrease in homicides by 42%. A total of 411 officers were hired, up from 250. The average response time to 9-1-1 calls is now less than 5 minutes, down from more than 60 minutes, three years ago. What a community policing model does for the community is strengthen the relationship between its officers and the citizens it polices.

In communities that experience high crime rates, living within the community can be like living in a bubble. People who are victimized might tend to isolate themselves from the community to stay safe and that is where the disconnection occurs.

Eugene O’Donnell at John Jay College of Criminal Justice was skeptical of community policing in the article that was published in 2015 by CBS News entitled “Community Policing Brings Hope To Camden.”

“Truth is police-work can be adversarial, and the community sometimes wants police-work to be adversarial,” said Prof. O’Donnell. “They want police to go after significant crime and disorder issues. Trying to reconcile those two things is not easy.”

According to “The American System of Criminal Justice” by George F. Cole and Christopher E. Smith, the 1970s ushered in the the community policing era. Yet the push for its return suggests that the pendulum has swung back towards the crime-fighting model of justice for some police precincts. As Prof. O’Donnell stated sometimes the community wants police-work to be adversarial.

Many people have cried we must end racism, but racism is nothing more than narcissistic abuse. I can’t help but feel this is something we, as a community, as a state, as a country will continually have to manage and attend to. Let’s face it, narcissistic aren’t going anywhere. They are here to stay. Even if you get rid of one, another will somehow find you. Racism is like managing a narcissistic partner, family member, relative, boss, and co-worker. It is a continual process that must be managed. That’s why governments have created departments that are specifically responsible for police management.

So, you might think of defunding the police similar to having to stop a social science experiment gone horribly wrong. You can read further about this in my previous post “Group Identity: Neuroscience Studies Prove Racism and Prejudice Are Hard Wired In The Brain.” https://proclivitiesprinciplewisdom.wordpress.com/2018/03/22/group-identity-neuroscience-studies-prove-racism-and-prejudice-are-hard-wired-in-the-brain/

Jericka Duncan and Suvro Banerji. “Community Policing Brings Hope To Camden.” CBS News. April 5, 2015. Retrieved online June 9, 2020. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/community-policing-brings-hope-to-camden/

George F. Cole and Christopher E. Smith. (1998) “The American System of Criminal Justice.” Eight Edition. Wadsworth Publishing. Belmont, CA. p. 145-146.