Policing Policies

Community is a system of policing that pursues an organizational strategy in which the law enforcement authorities combine effort with the members of the community in addressing crime situations, security related incidences, and social problems.


Community-oriented policing has been found to have a significantly positive impact in the management of juvenile delinquency problems. According to Siegel and Welsh (2008), “Using community services for juveniles has many advantages. Such services allow young people to avoid the stigma of being processed by a police agency. They also improve the community awareness of the needs of young people and make it possible to restrict court referral to cases involving serious crimes” (p.480). In essence, this allows juvenile delinquency problems to be addressed at the community level by focusing on the social aspects affecting the young person, which provides a lasting solution as opposed to the act of subjecting them to the law enforcement system. Moreover, when juvenile delinquency problems are addressed through the law enforcement system there is a high probability of the young people becoming more rebellious to the system later on their adult life. Hence, a community oriented approach allows them to appreciate the role played by the law enforcement agencies in securing the co-existence within the community.


By virtue of the fact that community oriented policing embraces the art of merging strategies coming from both law enforcement officials and community members, this has a heavy impact in creating a lasting bond between the two partners. Ordinarily, there exists stringent relationships between the law enforcement officials and community members; hence, there is a high chance that instead of solving crime related factors, this could only turn out to be more of a ‘mending the ribbon’ exercise through promotion of public relation initiatives. According to Gaines and Miller (2008), “…since its inception, community policing has been criticized-not the least by police officials – as having more to do with public relations than with actual crime fighting” (p.186). Therefore, this has a less impact in addressing some of the most critical/serious crime problems associated with a community.

In another assessment carried out by a theorist on the efficacy of community oriented policing, it was established that it affected performance levels seen in individual police officers. Furthermore, the results reflected that Community oriented policing officers were not supervised nor were they being held accountable and another disadvantage was that these officers had less access to police department resources due to over reliance on city and neighborhood resources in providing solutions (Pattavina, 2005). This shows that community oriented policing potentially creates a detachment of police officers from their assigned roles, which could partly be attributed to the delegation factor created through the concept of community involvement.

Problem-Oriented Policing

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Problem-oriented policing is mode of policing that specifically targets societal crime problems, which form the backbone of security related issues, then formulating tailored made responses aimed at eliminating their existence.


Problem-oriented policing creates significant benefits to the community on account of formulation of strategies that ensures police officers become proactive in the fulfillment of their service delivery charter. According to Martin (1995), “Three benefits of problem-oriented policing may be anticipated: a reduction in calls for service; improved effectiveness in responding to citizen concerns by addressing the underlying problem; and a reduction in the negative consequences, for department and officer alike, of being call-driven” (p.94). Hence, police officers are essentially able to instill better mechanisms other than waiting for a problem to happen then responding to it. Moreover, the police officers will be a better position to predict occurring interrelationships among problems through analysis, which can assist in pre-empting future crime patterns that may occur in a community setting.


Problem-oriented policing has the potential of leading to the law enforcement officers removing certain strategies from the list of choices of applicable strategies, especially after they have been subjected to evaluation under the S.A.R.A framework, and identified as having failed. It is therefore important not to blacklist certain strategies since they are situational dependent hence could be recycled in future crime problems.

Zero-Tolerance Policing

Zero tolerance policing essentially entails the total elimination of undesirable behavioral traits/acts that are crime related through application of stringent mechanisms, which are guided by established rules.


The application of zero tolerance policing has the potential of changing the degree of criminal activities associated with an area. This is particularly because with the application of stringent mechanisms community members will be discouraged in participating in the range of criminal activities. A Zero tolerance strategy has the ability of deterring the potential occurrence of offences that would ordinarily not be discouraged through the application of discretionary enforcement approaches (Leitzel, 2003). This can be effective in a neighborhood associated with a particular trend in terms of recorded criminal behaviors, for instance, homicide in a certain part of the city. Therefore, with the implementation of zero tolerance policing towards homicide the neighborhood may record a significant drop in the number of committed homicides since the criminals will fear the repercussions.

Secondly, in deterring particular criminal behavior, the law enforcement officers will have an easy time in carrying out their duties, which has a significant in terms of cost fundamentals. Leitzel (2003) adds that, “Threats to punish are cheap if they work in deterring the targeted activity, because then the punishment itself does not have to be implemented. So zero tolerance policies needn’t involve large expenditures in the long run, if they succeed in providing credible deterrence” (p.55). Therefore, this shows that through application of force and threat the community members readily s, submit to police authority, which reduces the need to implement complex crime-addressing mechanisms that have historically proven to be expensive by virtue of the constantly changing technological trends.

The application of zero tolerance policing significantly increases the probability of positive feedback from the implemented strategies. This is essentially because the additional enforcement, which could involve increases detection probability or implementation of stiffer penalties for those violating; hence deterring a later increase seen in terms of evasion (Leitzel, 2003). Therefore, by virtue of the implemented detection mechanisms people become aware of the fact that there is a significantly high chance of them being arrested, which boosts the police officers’ efforts.

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However zero tolerance policing may lead to the development of a negative notion from the community members especially if there is no actual implementation of the suggested strategies. According to Leitzel (2003), “But the more often that the threatened punishment actually has to be implemented (i.e. the greater the number of violations that occur and come to light despite the threatened punishment), the more expensive and ultimately less viable a zero tolerance policy will be” (p.55). This shows that in as much as strategies are being fronted, the public needs to see real life application in order for this to have the desired impact. This could lead to the proliferation of similar criminal activities in the long run. Leitzel (2003) further adds that, “Even, in circumstances where the potential for violations to cascade is not clear-cut, the failure to punish a given infraction does nothing to deter future infractions of the same type” (p.55).

Zero tolerance policing could lead to the development of mistrust and miscellaneous protests from the public. This could potentially lead to whole neighborhoods and communities vociferously complaining on account of blanket criminalization and civil rights violations (McLaughlin and Muncie, 2001). Moreover, the community members are in a position to significantly draw a contrast line focusing on this over-policing initiative and an inadequate police response and notion of under protection, whenever one attempts to report incidents (McLaughlin and Muncie, 2001).  This level of mistrust could rise to high levels, whereby the community completely withdraws from the efforts aimed at addressing crime, mostly in an effort to show might. McLaughlin and Muncie (2001) observe that, “Furthermore, it is not clear that a zero-tolerance policing operation does diminish street crime, drug dealing or prostitution: it may well only be displaced elsewhere” (p.64).  Hence, zero tolerance policing forms a non preferable alternative in providing critical crime related solutions.

Community-oriented vs. Problem-oriented Policing

In essence, the principles informing problem-oriented policing essentially lead to the formulation of a community-oriented approach; hence, in terms of principles they are fundamentally similar. According to the City of San Diego Policy Department, problem oriented policing is essentially the primary strategy leading to community oriented policing, due to the fact that the police and community work together during actual analysis of community problems and the development of custom solution to solve them (The City of San Diego, n.d). Therefore, community oriented policing and problem oriented policing essentially have integrated functions, which fosters their interrelationship.

However, in as much as the two strategies may appear fundamentally similar, there exists a difference on account of the degree of community involvement. According to Siegel and Welsh (2008), “Unlike community policing, however, the engagement of the community in problem-oriented policing is not imperative, but more often than not these operations involve close collaborations with the community” (p.481). This virtually means that problem analysis is in problem oriented policing is carried out in isolation of the community structures, while the actual solutions are proposed by both sides. On the other hand, community oriented policing involves community members and law enforcement at all critical levels of designing the desired approaches.

Community-Oriented/Problem-oriented Policing vs. Zero Tolerance Policing

There is little association between community-oriented policing and problem-oriented policing compared zero tolerance policing. This is especially on account of the fundamentally different strategies that are applied in addressing rising crime problems in a certain community setting. First, zero tolerance policing potentially eliminates the community members’ participatory framework established under community-oriented and problem-oriented approaches. This is primarily because the law enforcement officials carry a strict, authoritative, and unrestricted operation with great repercussions or threats to the affected criminals. These operations are carried out without the community members’ awareness. Secondly, zero tolerance policing fundamentally aims at instilling fear among the community members, while community-oriented and problem-oriented policing instill an element of cooperation between the community and enforcement officials, which further draws a wider gap between the two perspectives.

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Preferred Policing Approach

Problem-Oriented policing forms the most preferred strategy for solving the constantly rising crime related problems in a community setting. This is essentially because problem oriented policing pursues the S.A.R.A framework, which stands for Scanning, Analysis, Response and Assessment. This steps entail: scanning to identify specific crime related problems from numerous data sources; analysis pursues an in-depth pattern to establish underlying causes; response fosters the formation of strategic partnership between the police and critical partners in the development and implementation of a specific response according to analysis results; and assessment involves the actual evaluation of the response steps (Siegel and Welsh, 2008). In addition, the law enforcement officers have undergone significant training in identifying security related problems; hence, they are the best candidates to analyze the associated components of a problem.

Problem-oriented policing entails the application of the problem analysis triangle, which primarily focuses on resultant features of the involved victims, location properties, and identification of the specific source of the problem. In essence, using the problem analysis triangle provides a three thronged approach capable of ending criminal related incidents that are commonly associated with a particular neighborhood.  According to Leigh, Read, and Tilley (1996), “It helps to be as precise as possible in defining the problem. This might include, for instance, a specific description of the behavior involved, the times when the problem surfaces, and even the weather condition. Having identified the incidents to be included in the analysis, it is them important to establish what it is about the place, the caller or victim, and the offender or source of the problem that causes the problem to arise how and when it does” (p.19). Hence, by virtue of the specific nature of identified strategies, these provide the best way of tackling them through assistance from community members. Moreover, it urges the police to critically explore numerous forms of responses that are beyond the conventional approaches (Fisher and Lab, 2010).

Problem-oriented policing fosters the development of carefully chosen and other new mechanisms critical in handling security fundamentals. In essence, problem oriented policing promotes the application of new forms and styles of working relationships seen between the public and police, including line officers and police management, which in essence results in better use of community members and line officers as opposed to conventional police enforcement and management strategies (Fisher and Lab, 2010). Finally, the assessment framework provided by problem oriented policing ensures that the applied strategies had the desired effect, and if not, problems with these strategies can be identified and tackled appropriately. 

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