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NCJ Number
Police Studies Volume: 15 Issue: 4 Dated: (Winter 1992) Pages: 179-183
D H Bracey
Date Published
5 pages
This article examines the implications of community policing for the definition and prevention of police corruption.
The highly centralized police structure that emphasizes close supervision, detailed specifications for officer behavior, minimal discretionary behavior, and the impersonal enforcement of the law can be classified as a low-trust model of policing. It assumes that police officers will be corrupt unless they are closely controlled and threatened with punishment for misconduct. Community policing, on the other hand, calls for the decentralization of police management, an increase in police discretionary behavior, and personal interactions with citizens. This is a high- trust model, in that it trusts officers will have the personal integrity and wisdom to make ethical decisions in situations that have opportunities for a variety of behavior. Although some fear that community policing will undermine objective and impersonal law enforcement, there is evidence that it will motivate officers to raise their interactions with citizens to a higher level of integrity as they become more aware that citizens trust and depend upon them. The more personalized interaction between officers and citizens under community policing, however, may require a more relaxed policy toward officers' receiving and giving small gifts, since the mutual giving and receiving of gifts of appreciation and caring is a normal part of human interaction. Community policing will require that officers receive thorough training in behaviors and decisionmaking appropriate for the variety of situations likely to be encountered in community policing.