National Police Association on Working Closely with Communities

Photo courtesy of Manhattan Times

An Intervention Observed, a Resolution Served

Today, proactive policing and intervention strategies are widely overlooked and under-reported in the United States. As a result, the kind deeds and selflessness law enforcement display daily go unrecognized for the most part. From picking up homeless people and delivering them to shelters to special needs individuals who may have eloped from a care facility to truant young adults who are victims of abuse, our badged professionals are not recognized enough for these public services or the lives they save.

Mitigating the Crisis

With complex causes at the individual, family, and community levels, the National Police Association knows that violence is a global crisis. No one disputes that the fundamental mission of our police force is to control crime. As the basic policing strategy, fighting crime embodies a deep commitment and therefore receives broad public support. In contrast, other proposed methods, i.e. proactive intervention and community policing, distort this focus.

Interventions target specific types of crime, particular kinds of people, or specific crime factors contributing to crime; several types of intervention systems and programs seek to reduce interpersonal violent crimes.

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  • Social interventions include
    • Edutainment initiatives
    • Family enrichment
    • Gender equality education
    • Life skills training program
    • Parent training programs
    • School-based education programs
  • Economic-based interventions
    • microfinance credit schemes
  • Health sector programs include
    • screening and referral programs
    • victim advocacy and support groups
    • psychological or medical interventions
  • Justice Programs
    • provide conflict mediation services
    • providing training or advice to a newly formed police force
  • Citizen Security Committees with police and regular meetings
  • Crime observatories: give demographics on various crimes and their characteristics to develop custom solutions that use analysis of local problems and conditions.

Overall, police are most effective in reducing violent crime when they are proactive. Therefore, supplementary interventions, such as those listed above, are an essential part of the violence prevention portfolio.

Why Proactive Interventions Are Necessary

Proactive policing, as a strategic approach, is a relatively new phenomenon in the United States. Therefore, in judging the value of alternative police strategies in controlling crime, constant vigilance on the demonstrated effectiveness must be continuous.

Proactive interventions challenge current law enforcement practices; arrest-based tactics focusing on persons having already committed a crime are typically less effective and may even contribute to an increase in recidivism.

They are not isolated programs but rather a set of ideas that have spread across the policing landscape.

National Police Association Believes 

Building strong relationships and mutual trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve is essential to maintaining public safety and effective policing. The mutual trust allows police officials to rely on the cooperation of community members in providing information about crime in their neighborhoods; this will enable them to work together in devising solutions.

Cultivating relationships provides community members with the opportunity to trust the police, depending on whether they believe that law enforcement actions reflect community values and provide procedural justice.

Reactive vs. Proactive

National Police Association and its members will tell you that professional crime-fighting relies on three tactics:

  • motorized patrol
  • rapid response to calls
  • investigation of the crime

While these approaches have their virtues, they are reactive in nature. Additionally, they do not appear to prevent crime. Law enforcement responds when summoned; otherwise, they do not interfere with the citizens, retaining their impartiality.

This distancing prevents building any meaningful relationships between police and the citizens protecting citizens from an overly invasive police force.

However, many police forces have developed proactive approaches to dealing with crime. For example, in organized crime, drug dealing, and vice enforcement, the police may rely on covert surveillance, informants, and undercover investigations rather than respond to calls. In addition, in juvenile offenses, the police collaborate with schools; they have also created athletic leagues to help deal with truancy and drug abuse.

It is becoming more widely accepted that the most significant potential for improving crime control doesn’t come from response time improvements, investigative techniques, or patrol tactics; instead, it can be achieved through intervention:

  • Identify and design means to mitigate the problems that produce serious crimes
  • Foster closer relations with the community
  • Help the community build self-defense mechanisms

A non-profit organization, the National Police Association‘s mission is to educate law enforcement supporters in helping police departments achieve their goals. They are involved in many activities that encourage proactive intervention and work closely with communities. If you would like to volunteer, please visit the website or contact them today.

National Police Association on Working Closely with Communities

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