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Security is the beginning of social, economic and political developments. The role played by law enforcers is a significant one and can never be taken lightly. In guarding and protecting the society, security personnel demand more than just cooperation from the members of the public. Since its adoption, community policing has played vitally important roles in ensuring that those who break the law are brought to justice. In some countries, the system is welcomed wholeheartedly by members of the public. However, some people argue that community policing does very little as far as criminal investigation is concerned. This paper takes an in-depth look at community policing and criminal investigation. In order to develop an appropriate discussion, the first part highlights the relationship that exists between the two aspects. The second part looks at how community policing hinders criminal investigation followed by an insight on the impacts to the society. Based on a number of sensitive factors, it is argued that the community policing has stagnated the process of criminal investigation.
Criminal investigation is a procedural activity that the inclusion of a number of factors for its success. Investigators rely on a number of personnel in order to achieve the most reliable reports. Community accommodates different people, from law abiders to those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law. We live together and understand each other better. This understanding is what community policing bases its reliance on. Security personnel depends on the community to obtain crucial information on relevant people. This reliance has however been perceived differently by the members of the public. It therefore means that if the role of community policing declines, then criminal investigation loses its entire purpose. As the investigators rely on the community for vital information, the community expects complete protection and security from criminal investigators.
This mutual relationship is a double-edged sword that can be looked into in two different ways. The New York Police Department defines community policing as a philosophy that enhances organizational strategies which give supports well-being of the society security-wise through partnership between members of the public and the law enforcers. In other words, Neighborhood Coordinating Officers are expected to inspect their neighborhoods and make face to face interaction with community members. Any activity suspected to be illegal is supposed to be reported and immediate action taken.
The NCOs are also expected to collect important information of suspicious activities from their community members. According to Warner & Greg, (2016), this strategy is expected to ease the processes involved in investigating crimes. Since the NCOs understand their communities better, it is assumed that they can easily obtain vital information from members of the public. In his argument, Warner & Greg writes, “Community policing is the most promising trend in urban law enforcement. It aims to involve police departments in crime prevention, not just crime reaction, by assigning more officers to street patrol, exposing them to neighborhood concerns and training them to identify troubled individuals and bring in social service agencies to provide help.” A research conducted to determine the effectiveness of community policing indicated that, 56 percent of those interviewed strongly agreed that community policing has helped in improving criminal investigation.
On another hand the issue of community policing cannot be taken lightly. Warner and Greg reveal that community policing has lost focus on the areas it is supposed to major in. According to the report, instead of addressing core problems such as demographic disparities, community policing is extensively euphemistic, focusing hugely on minor disorderly behavior which only criminalizes most people of color without putting into consideration the causes of such minor behaviors. This has erased public trust and people are withholding important information from investigators. They view law enforcers as common enemy thus hindering the process of criminal investigation. In a similar argument, Lab (2017) contends that the term community policing is merely vague. It is blurry because it does not serve its intended purpose. In his argument, Lab adds that crime reduction should not be the only metric in gauging community policing, but rather other factors such as its effectiveness in criminal investigation should also be considered. He contends that community policing has, in fact complicated the criminal investigation process, explaining why some countries still find it hard to adopt the system.
The link that exists between these two aspects is now clear. Law enforcers depend on the community for vital information regarding security. On the other hand, the community depends on law enforcers for both security and justice. The problem in this case is the delivery of these two expectations at the same time. Criminal investigators can only provide justice and other related matters and not security. This means that the relationship between the community and security personnel is a complicated one as explained by Lab. Since the community does not obtain protection and security from investigators, they avoid sharing sensitive information in fear of their lives.
Generally, the relationship between community policing and criminal investigation don’t match. A lot still has to be done to ensure that reliable and accurate information is obtained from the public. The public withhold vital information from investigators in fear of their lives hindering the investigation process. Also, community policing focuses on minor behaviors other than tackling major problems. Thus, it is argued that the community policing has stagnated the process of criminal investigation.
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