Kids Learn From Estudy By UB Professor Finds That Community Policing Has Advantages Over Traditional Methods

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: July 20, 1994 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Community policing -- a concept that is being embraced by an increasing number of municipalities -- has distinct advantages over the traditional method of law enforcement, although it requires officers to alter their traditional role, a study by a University at Buffalo researcher has concluded.

Community policing establishes a more effective use of police resources and a more effective maintenance of community order, according to a 15-year study of various police models reviewed by Raymond G. Hunt, Ph.D., professor of organization and human resources in the UB School of Management, and John M. Magenau, Ph.D., an associate professor of business at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. The results of the study were published in the volume "Power and the Police Chief," part of the "Studies in Crime, Law and Justice" series edited by James A. Inciardi of the Division of Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware.

The book examined the changes in the role of police throughout history and the application of modern management principles to policing and its impact on community relations.

Community policing identifies and addresses the underlying causes of crime in a proactive manner, rather than the traditional method of dealing with problems as they arise on a case-by-case basis. It focuses on the work to be done and its results, rather than on standard procedures. And, it emphasizes the development and application of officers' craft skills instead of the performance of standardized routines, Hunt said.

Other differences between traditional and community-oriented models of policing involve changes in the relationship between police and citizens, the researchers noted. In the community-oriented model, police attempt to identify and deal with the causes of problems and develop "a continued collaboration" between the department and citizens. In the traditional model, officers react to incidents and "police" citizens, Hunt said.

For example, the Buffalo Police Department, which has begun implementing community policing under new Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske, has opened several satellite police stations across the city, and has begun bicycle patrols on the downtown pedestrian mall.

The test of a community-oriented program's success is the extent to which the police are actually engaged in community problem-solving, Hunt said. "The whole idea is to arrange a more intimate relationship between the police and the community," he added.

The notion of "problem-oriented policing," which includes working to prevent a wide range of problems, not just crime, is a distinct move away from the traditional law-enforcement position and complements community-oriented policing, the researchers said. Both approaches are proactive ways of dealing with crime.

Community policing tactics vary, as do the particular problems different communities face. "Police departments have identities," Hunt said, adding that a "cookie-cutter approach" to community-oriented policing does not exist.

"It is very possible that campus cops are farther along than anyone else in this area," Hunt said.

The UB Department of Public Safety, under Director Lee Griffin, has had a community-oriented program in place since 1989. Six officers are assigned to three main areas -- the North and South campus residence halls and the academic "Spine" area -- on a long-term basis to develop relationships with various groups. The officers also conduct presentations on home security and "Operation ID," a program in which valuable items are engraved with an identification number.

Moreover, all officers in the department undergo problem-oriented training.