David Sklansky, Professor of Law and Faculty Chair, University of California, Berkeley
NIJ Conference 2010
David Sklansky: I don't think community policing has run its course. I think it's premature to discard it and try to cast about for the next big thing. It's certainly true that community policing is a radically incomplete set of ideas for how police departments should operate. It's certainly true that advocates of community policing have never fully articulated what it means to talk about partnering with the community. They've never fully explained what a police department is supposed to do when, as is always the case, different parts of the community have different ideas about how the police should operate.
We don't have a good sense of how community policing should deal with the large parts of a community who don't come to community meetings and who may not have any particular set of ideas about how the police should operate or who may have conflicting ideas. The community policing movement has never fully explained how different parts of the police organization fit into community policing — what the relative and respective roles of command, supervisors and line officers are.
And the community policing movement, I'd say, has never developed a full and complete set of practices for incorporating the expertise, insight and experience of line officers into the ongoing development and refinement of what community policing means.
Nonetheless, I'd say that all of those questions — questions about how a police department interacts with a community, how a police department engages a community, how a police department partners with a community and what the community is that a police department should be engaging with — those are precisely the hardest and the most important questions that police departments and those people outside the departments who care about policing need to engage with.
So that's why I would say that instead of saying that we're done with community policing, now let's have information-led policing or predictive policing, or some new form of professional policing, I'd say let's stick with trying to figure out how we do what the community policing movement said we should be trying to do, and if we want to signal that we want to go beyond the rudimentary kind of community policing that we've developed, call it advanced community policing. But my own view is that it's a mistake to give up on the emphasis on community and the emphasis on democratic interaction with the community that the community policing movement made its central focus.
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David Sklansky, Yosef Osheawich Professor of Law and Faculty Chair, Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
Date created: August 16, 2010