In addition to preventing crime, community policing in Arkansas is oriented on crime prevention and resolving common community problems. In Arkansas community, the police collaborate with community members to enhance safety and promote quality neighborhood. The Arkansas police department associates with community groups and other organizations to educate community members on how to avoid crime and how to eliminate hazards that contribute to crime. Likewise, community members inform the police about their opinions or views towards the police. It enables the Arkansas Community Policing Division to participate in community-based crime prevention programmes such as National Night Out ("Community Policing Division", n.d.). Currently, the Arkansas community describes community policing as a close association between police officers and community members aimed at preventing crime and maintaining a close relationship.
Police officers are acquainted with Arkansas residents and have developed effective communication mechanism to reach out to the community. Many Arkansas residents view community policing as one of their community-based programmes. They believe that the success of this programme depends on how well they cooperate and support the local law enforcement agencies. They also view the close association as mutual respect built on trust and genuine intentions to serve and protect the community. The goodwill of the residents enhances transparency in police response to community needs. As a result, a stable police-community partnership is retained.
Citizen Police Interaction
Many members of this community have developed confidence and trust towards the police and work side-by-side to implement crime-solving strategies. United by a common goal of preventing crime, community members have established a sense of responsibility in creating a safe neighborhood. While enforcing the law, community members can make informed judgments concerning the operations of the police department. Similarly, police officers have developed respect and trust towards civilians. These characteristics have resulted from personal contacts and impartial enforcement of the law. Through community policing, the members of the public have developed a better understanding of the duties and responsibilities of a police officer ("Community Policing Division", n.d.). As a result, the law enforcers have become part of the community and are actively involved in various community-based services.
Many community members, especially youths, have developed a positive relationship with the law enforcers. It is common for Arkansas youth to refer individual police officers as their role models. Through this, many of them keep off from crime to avoid breaking the friendship or disappointing them. However, several lawsuit cases against police brutality and use of excessive force were filed in the recent past. In most cases, the police officers were accused of targeting the black community in Arkansas. One such example involved the fatal shooting of Eugene Asher of Little Rock in 2010 ("Community Policing Division", n.d.). The incidence divided the community and led to several protests against police brutality by a group of black community. Police departments across Arkansas strongly condemned this particular occurrence and assured the community that the accused persons would face legal action after investigation. Some police officers joined the protesters to show their displeasure against police brutality.
Community policing in Arkansas has gained recognition at the national level due to its effectiveness and success. In 2013, eight out of ten Arkansas community members supported that community policing had helped reduce social crimes ("Community Policing Division", n.d.). The law enforcement agencies have also reported reduced offenses after the implementation of a National Community Safety Plan. In Arkansas, the police department has adopted several unique strategies to enhance community policing. One primary approach is the adoption of a Citizens Police Academy that is run by Hot Springs Police Department ("Citizens Police Academy | Hot Springs, AR - Official Website," 2017). In this academy, citizens interact with law enforcers and familiarize with various aspects community policing. Also, participants are introduced to basics of patrol tactics and criminal law. In this way, concerned citizens become more informed on responsibilities and functions of police departments.
In America, the law enforcement agencies have integrated community policing with problem-oriented policing as strategies to combat crime. Collectively, the integration operates as homeland security and incorporates the State, Federal, Municipal and American citizens (Skogan, 2017). The concept of homeland security was introduced after the 9/11 terror attack. It provides set standards on security policies that must be adhered to by all regional police departments. In Chicago for example, the police departments have reduced the size of administrative units and disbanded special units (Skogan, 2017). They have reorganized into small self-managing beat teams that operate in local police substations. Homeland security concepts are derived from the paradigms of community policing directed towards public safety. It focuses on positive community-police relationships and increased cooperation among the federal, state and local entities.
Best practices in community policing are critical to a successful community policing programme. Strategies to implement good practices are based on community partnership, organizational transformation and problem-solving. Best practices encourage community participation in promoting social order and preventing crime. Adoption of good practices by the Arkansas police department has contributed to a thriving community policing programme. First, they have focused on building trust through honesty and transparency. It enabled them to engage the community in problem-solving and to maintain professionalism and integrity while performing their duties. Also, they have earned trust from minority communities who were victims of police discrimination and brutality in the past. Beliefs build legitimacy, and the police officers deserve respect and support from the community members.
Second, they have engaged youths in lower school, high schools, and university levels. Many social crimes are associated with youths aged between 15 and 25 years (Skogan, 2017). Organised gangs, violent extremists, and drug dealers often target youths for recruitment. By engaging the youths, the police officers have significantly reduced the number of youths involved in crime. In Arkansas, the community policing division is part of Drug Abuse Resistance Education programmes in middle and high schools. The interaction between police and the youth also reduces tension and hostility towards the law enforcers. With advancement in technology, the police can promote cooperation with the youths through social media such as Facebook and twitter. Tommy Norman, an officer from North Little Rock, Arkansas, has successfully involved thousands of youths into community policing through social media platforms ("Community Policing Division", n.d.). In this way, they engage in conversations and develop a better understanding of each other.
Citizens Police Academy | Hot Springs, AR - Official Website. (2017). Cityhs.net. Retrieved 10 November 2017, from https://www.cityhs.net/369/Citizens-Police-Academy
Community Policing Division. Fayetteville-ar.gov. Retrieved 11 November 2017, from http://www.fayetteville-ar.gov/182/Community-Policing-Division
Skogan, W. (2017). Community Policing in America. Skogan.org. Retrieved 10 November 2017, from http://www.skogan.org/files/Community_Policing_in_United_States2.Brodeur_1995.pdf
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