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Police and Communities: The Quiet Revolution

NCJ Number
G L Kelling
Date Published
7 pages
Increasingly, police departments are looking for ways to evaluate themselves on their contribution to the quality of neighborhood life, not just their impact on crime statistics.
These means include returning to foot patrol, citizen surveys, and organizing citizens' groups. Citizens have conceded to police that crime is a problem, but they are more concerned about daily incivilities that disrupt and often destroy neighborhood social, commercial, and political life. The old view was that the police were a community's professional defense against crime and disorder. The new strategy is that police are to stimulate and buttress a community's ability to produce attractive neighborhoods and protect them against predators. Research has confirmed that fewer than 10 percent of the addresses calling for police service generate over 60 percent of the total calls for service during a given year. Problem-oriented policing is a method of working with citizens to help them identify and solve problems and has been proposed to deal with the problem of atomistic responses to incidents. The reasons for the proposed change in police strategy are: (1) disenchantment with police services; (2) discouraging research in the 1970's about police effectiveness; and (3) frustration with the traditional role of the police officer. Risks of implementing include the possibility of squandering police resources, fitting this strategy in with current police organization, and the opportunity for police corruption and misbehavior.