25 Mar 2013

Community Policing Problem Solving Era; Evolution of Policing

2 Comments Crime, Featured Articles

We have covered about 150 years of who we are. Bringing us into the era of the 1970’s, we still have many remaining. The last 2 weeks have been fun and educational, and who doesn’t love the old school Dragnet video embeds? To briefly bring you up to speed;

The Political Era – 1840 – 1930
The Reform (Professional) Era – 1930 – 1970

The Community Problem Solving Era – 1970 to Present

The fun is taking the main points from each historic period and relate them to current practices and topics. There are also three important sub-sections to this period capped off by the movement towards homeland security based operations. Until we know where we have been, it’s impossible to know where we are going. Let us again welcome you to The Badge Guys. These are the conversations of our communities, our profession, and our lives.

The Community Problem Solving Era; an Overview

As the 1960’s began to fade, so did the nation’s tolerance for the Reform (Professional) style of policing focusing on number of arrests and call response times. Social upheaval, racial unrest and community cries demand an alternative approach to policing.

Advancing the body of research and justice administration literature questioned the status quo of cop work. These studies reiterated a need for exploring an alternative approach similar to the suggestions made by the Wickersham Commission.

Relying on incident-driven responses were quantifiably determined to be ineffective and an unwise expenditure of government’s resources. It was time for change and the communities wanted to be included in the process.

A rush to change for the sake of change resulted in poor planning, development and implementation. The promise of an innovative ideology for meeting the needs of law enforcement and community failed to reach critical mass, and the plan was scrapped.

An effort to retool the paradigm of reconnecting with communities included a return of the old-school beat cop, and an introduction to problem-oriented policing.

This led to a new and improved ideal branded Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving. The remake included new police strategies equally emphasizing crime control and prevention.

An organizational approach de-emphasizing the traditional para-militaristic hierarchical command structure, would allow street level officers the flexibility to become key decision makers in exploring alternative resolutions to traditional crime.

Despite the centralized emphasis on community policing, the nation focused enforcement efforts on the “War on Drugs” campaign during the 1980 – 90’s. This battle led intensified policing directly against the communities. Street jumps and search warrant raids became the norm as opposed to alternative resolutions for neighborhood issues.

Moving the spectrum further from community emphasis was the events of and following September 11th. While the law enforcement milieu attempted to attach COPS to homeland security, the divergent paradigms have failed to marry.

This Week’s Debate; have We Evolved at All

Today, advocates continue to clash over the best purpose for policing. Some feel an emphasis on the “social worker” practices are the best utilization of law enforcement resources, while others maintain that the “crime fighter” paradigm best serves the needs of our communities.

Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving is designed to be the combination of both of Era; the Political and the Reform.  Is it? Did the 1994 Omnibus Crime Control Act hire more cops for community or kicking in doors?

This Week’s Schedule

Monday = Juli Adcock weighs in with her front line experience to offer the view from the street in The Evolution of Policing – Community Oriented Policing Services/

Wednesday = Chief of Police Scott Silverii, aka me, am back with my take from 30+ years on the force in Cop Model Stand Alone Failure Inspires Others/

2 Responses to “Community Policing Problem Solving Era; Evolution of Policing”

  1. Scott Silverii says:


    Thank you and perfect response. LEO should have prepared itself decades ago to work smarter than hard (by hard, I mean inefficient and replicating the services you mention).

    This month’s theme of US Policing Evolution sought to bring the “rabbit hole” to the fortefront for discussing where we were and where we are heading. RElying on the mantra, “that’s the way its always been done” no longer suffices.

    Thanks again,

  2. Harry Howell says:

    It’s interesting that we find ourselves again returning to the rabbit hole of response oriented policing. Although ‘broken windows’ theory has some advantages of collaborative effort (especially true in urban environs) our economy cannot sustain multiple agencies tackling singular issues. Rather, we’ll be forced to deal with problems with singular solutions, IE; the courts. In the meantime, a constitutionalist agenda is afoot that is determined to clash with progressives and conservatives alike. In the face of limited federal funding, we’ll see diminished capacity to police the public. Police officers, be prepared to do more with less.