Yousry “Yost” Zakhary, Director, Woodway, Texas, Public Safety Department
s I have traveled around the globe to meet with different law enforcement agencies, I have witnessed one consistent common denominator—community oriented policing. Community oriented policing works.
Community oriented policing deals with the core issue for police—building a working, trusting relationship with your community. If you don’t have that, your agency and its officers will not be successful in reducing crime. It is imperative that law enforcement invest time in their communities so they can build relationships and gain the trust of their communities.
Without a positive relationship with your community, your agency and its officers will not be able to collect valuable intelligence from community members, and it will be difficult to sustain your current policing efforts. Your agency may conduct very successful sweeps and arrests, but you won’t be able to endure this effort if your law enforcement agency does not engage and empower the community, key citizens, faith-based groups, and other active community groups. In addition, as chiefs and leaders, we have all experienced challenges and tough times in our careers. A positive relationship with your community will prevent or lessen those challenges because the community will be a source of support during tough times.
Realistically, law enforcement officers cannot be on every street corner. Having the ears, eyes, and support of the community can only make your agency stronger and more effective and efficient.
As policing continues to evolve, new models, in addition to community oriented policing, have come into play such as intelligence-led policing and evidenced-based policing. However, these models do not replace community oriented policing.
As many of you know, one of my initiatives as president is reducing violence and crime on our streets. Community oriented policing is an integral part of this. The goal is to develop a final report with a set of recommendations to help reduce and combat the ever-growing problem of violent crime on our streets and in our communities. The final report and set of recommendations will be presented at a plenary session at IACP 2014 in Orlando, Florida.
In addition, the IACP will continue to work with the U. S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office to take a look into the future of policing. One of our past initiatives included a report titled Building Trust Between the Police and the Citizens They Serve: An Internal Affairs Promising Practices Guide for Local Law Enforcement. Throughout 2008 and 2009, the IACP, supported by a grant from the COPS Office, examined the community trust continuum, with a focus on the pivotal role of Internal Affairs in rebuilding community trust once misconduct occurs. The report attempts to place Internal Affairs in its proper context—not as a stand-alone activity, but as one component of a systemic, agency-wide, professional standards effort. After a discussion of some of the other components necessary in the community trust continuum—hiring, training, rewarding excellent performance—the guide focuses on building an effective Internal Affairs approach for any size or type of agency. The guidelines for the Internal Affairs function address every aspect, from complaint processing to decision making, discipline, notification, and community transparency.
Other initiatives the IACP is working on in conjunction with the COPS Office are an exploration of promising community policing practices in Indian Country; bridging the gap with communities of color; helping the VERA Institute gauge concerns regarding officers of color for community trust building; developing officer shooting protocols; and taking a look at community oriented policing with an eye toward innovation.
We do not yet know what the future of community oriented policing looks like, but as indicated by these projects, the IACP, the COPS Office, and police leaders throughout the profession are working each day to ensure that community policing remains the key to safer neighborhoods and communities.
No matter what evolution takes place within the community oriented policing model, it is imperative that you and your agency invest in your community early. Citizens will continue to be at the heart of any successful police reduction in crime effort. The support of the community is key, and police leaders from around the globe rely on it.
Police and their communities only thrive when they work closely together and have a high degree of trust between them, and that’s what community oriented policing was designed to achieve. The strategy has made remarkable progress in this arena but its work isn’t done. The IACP, COPS, and each of our 22,000 members must become “futurists” and work to further advance and implement the community oriented policing model. Let’s do this together! ♦
Please cite as:
Yousry “Yost” Zakhary, “The Importance of Community Oriented Policing,” President’s Message, The Police Chief 81 (June 2014): 6.