Community Policing During the 1960 s and 1970 s there was an increase in the tension between people and the police. There seemed to be even more tension between the police and minorities. During this time there were many riots that sparked up, this caused the policing community to look at new ways to approach the way they looked at policing. The new way of policing that they came up with was community policing. This paper is going to look at community policing through conflict theory. To look and see if there is maybe a bigger reason for community policing other then just community relations. Community policing is a proactive way to go about policing, where the officers are in the community more. Instead of being in their cars they are on foot walking around and interacting with the community. The technical name for community policing is community oriented policing which is referred to as COP. COP is based on the premise that line officers have the authority and discretion to develop solutions to problems occurring in neighborhoods. Police administrators feel that traditional reactive policing does not adequately address the problems facing communities today. In contrast, problem-solving techniques provide proactive means for combating recurring problems within the community. COP is also based on the philosophy that the police and the community work together to solve problems. To do this, agencies establish formal partnerships with the community, increased direct participation of citizens in addressing community problems, and secured commitment and support from the city or county management. They develop ties with the broader community in an attempt to eliminate the us-versus-them mentality that is often associated with traditional reactive policing. By creating stronger ties to the community and being seen in the community the mentality can be ended. Also, by being in the community more the police will have a positive effect on lowering street crime. However, implementing COP can be very tough for a department and one study shows that it takes on average ten years to fully implement COP into a department (Breci, 1). To implement COP many things must be accomplished by the department, some of which are met by opposition from some in the department. A key step in the process requires participation from all members of the agency. This step is often over looked, especially when agency administrators develop and implement COP without input from other employees. Members of the agency excluded from the planning process are more likely to perceive COP as just another public relations program. Next the department must integrate all divisions and individuals into the COP process. It is very important to involve everyone from the department in the process including civilians that work for the department. The last thing that needs to be done involves providing training to all department personnel regarding the philosophy, strategies, and duties associated with COP. Once all these things are done the department will be ready to see how COP works in their community. Now we are going to take a look at community policing through conflict theory. But first lets take a look at conflict theory by itself. Many sociologists have looked at conflict theory from many different angles. We are going to look at the different ways in which some have looked at it. Basic conflict theory says that there is always tension and conflict in society and that these are necessary for every day life. Conflict theory in its most simple form is the rich get richer and the poor get poorer . William Coser said that the conflict in society creates more cohesion in groups of people. These groups can be as small as a group of friends or as large as a socioeconomic class. Probably the most widely read of all the conflict theorists is Karl Marx. He was the founding father of conflict theory. Marx felt that economics and materials make things happen in the world. Marx started with material conditions, ownership, and concrete historical events to look at society. Marx looked at economic status and relationship to the means of production as the most important things in a society. He broke society up into two social classes the bourgeois or the owners and the proletarians or the working class. He said that the proletarians could cause change in a society if they wanted too. However the bourgeois does a great job of holding the poor back by giving them the hope that one day with hard work they could become one of the rich themselves. America was founded on this ideal it is what we call The American Dream it serves the purpose of keeping the poor content with their standing, because they feel like if they put in enough effort they to can become rich. Marx also felt that religion served the same purpose, religion tells people to be humble to be happy with what they have; this also helps the rich. The next sociologist we are going to look at is Max Weber. Weber had a lot of the same views as Marx however he expanded on his views of social class. He said that it wasn t just your economic position that said where you stand in society it is also your status in the community and the party that you belonged too. Other then his views on where you are in a social class his views were very close to Marx. C. Wright Mills is probably the most relevant of all the sociologist to come along, because Mills looked at modern America specifically. Mills looked at how in the 1800 s the government wasn t very centralized; the government didn t have a direct hand in a lot of the businesses that was going on in the country. There were fewer taxes and less stringent rules for how a business had to operate. He also looked at how in the past the political elite, economic elite, and military elite didn t really cross paths that much. However, with the advent of new and more expensive weaponry the three big powers had to come together to come up with ways to purchase and develop these weapons. So in turn the people with the political, economic, and military power got together to form a strong bond and came together to form a very strong power base that makes all of the important and historical decisions in our country.
At first glance one might wonder how conflict theory relates to community policing. Most people would look at community policing from a functionalist standpoint, because on the surface community policing seems to only serve to purpose of letting the society run smoother as a whole. However, this is very far from the truth, community policing benefits the rich in many ways and helps the rich and the power elite to gain more control and money. The whole basis of COP is to put police officers out in the streets with the people of the community. By doing this the police accomplish a few things. First, they increase community relations with people and in turn the people become happier and feel that society is doing something to help them out. Second, because there are more officers on the streets there are going to be more arrests of criminals, which again helps to make the people happier. It also makes life easier on the elite because they don t have to hear about how they aren t doing anything to help society in the media. Also by having more police in the streets there is more control over the people. This is a big benefit to the rich because they can manipulate the people more easily. One of the other things that comes along with making more arrests is that there will be more arrests of poor blacks which we all know the rich love to lock up and suppress. By making more arrests and being in the community the police can help people to be on the straight and narrow; this happens either because people feel that because the police are there they are going to get caught or because the police actually help the people. By having less people turn to crime there will be more people that are upstanding citizens. By having more good citizens there will also be an increase in the amount of workers that our available. This creates a good situation for the rich. First because there are more people with jobs there will be more taxes being paid to the rich and powerful. Also by having a steady income it is also pretty safe to say that these people will be buying more consumer products which in turn equals more money for the rich. Karl Marx said that the upper class couldn t exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of productions. By constantly changing production styles you change people s opinions and never give them enough time to mobilize enough people that are against a certain system. By constantly changing you can tell the workers that you are doing it for their benefit and that buys you time, until the people realize that this isn t helping them and once they realize that you change it again. By switching from a traditional reactive policing to a community policing style the rich are doing just that buying themselves time by changing the instruments of production. Also no one can argue that on the surface that COP does seem to help the poor. By making the poor believe that community policing helps them, the rich are also lessening the chance for riot and upheaval. The rich don t want to lose any of the power which they have so they will keep doing things of this nature to try to show the poor that they do matter and that the rich are looking out for them. Finally by instituting programs like D.A.R.E. the police and upper elite are trying to decrease the amount of people who use drugs. If D.A.R.E. does exactly that then it is also helping the rich in the long run as well. First, with fewer people using drugs there will be more workers. The benefits of which have already been noted in this paper. Second, with fewer drug users, there will be fewer people going in to drug detoxification centers. Putting people in drug detoxification centers is very expensive for insurance companies and by having fewer people go into them, they would save millions of dollars annually. So, as you can see, Community policing was created to help the poor but in the end it just aids in keeping them poorer and making the rich, richer. Our society today creates many programs that are thought to be designed to help the poor but, when one looks closer at them he/she can usually find ways in which the program is actually benefiting the rich. Something must be done in our society today to try to put the power back in the people s hands. At one point in history, America was a much freer place to live. It was a place were people could do as they please and a place where everyone was a hard and honest worker. However with the advent of technology things have seemed to go down hill quickly with only a few elite reaping the benefits. Bibliography1. Anonymous. 1998. COPS: It s About Community. Washington: Public Management, Aug. 2. Babbie, Earl. 1998. The Practice of Social Research, Wadsworth Publishing Company3. Breci, Micheal. Erickson, Timothy. 1998. Community Policing: The Process of Transitional Change. Washington: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, June 4. Farganis, James. 1996. Readings in Social Theory, McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.5. Vago, Steven. 1997. Law and Society Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall 6. Skolnick, Jerome. 1998. Community Policing: Chicago Style Washington: Contemporary Sociology, Sep.