Police officers have a duty to secure and protect the community. There are various ways, in which they fulfill this mandate, and one of them is carrying out patrols. Patrols can take many forms, including bicycle, foot, and horse patrols among others. During the patrols, police officers interact with the community members to understand some of the cultures and beliefs they observe. It is from an effective interaction that police gather details about a security concern. Therefore, police patrols bring police officers close to the community, allow them to interact, and bring out solutions to security issues since the community is the cause of insecurity as well as its terminator.
Critical Analysis: The History of Police Patrol
Historically, police patrols differed from one country to another. The police force was not as organized as it is today. In America and England, the police patrol systems were similar (Skogan, 2006). Law enforcement in America was considered as a local responsibility. The individual was responsible for their security. There were established systems of patrol groups. For example, the northern colonies had the night watch group responsible for guarding the cities against crimes, fire, and disorder. The night watch groups consisted of the sheriffs appointed by governors and the constables elected by people.
In addition, the night watch groups were responsible for maintaining peace and order as well as providing other services related to security matters. The responsibilities of police in the cities included maintaining sanitation and health, managing pets and animals, ensuring vehicles were orderly in the streets, controlling liquor, gambling, weapons, and vices, and delivering and selling goods in the market. Most of the southern colonies had white men organized into the slave patrols. Patrol slaves were responsible for returning, controlling and pushing away other slaves. They also maintained economic order. The night watch and the slave groups made up the police organizations in the 18th century (Williams & Murphy, 1990). Some countries had vigilante groups made up of the community members who volunteered to combat any form of threats and maintain order in their community.
The community relation was a security mechanism used in the olden days. Community relation was used in law enforcement to maintain order among communities. Community relations refer to the relationship that exists between community members and the police. Any community depends on the help of the police to curb crimes and help them in the case of emergencies (Burke, 2010). On the other hand, the police rely on the community members to get a crime report and other vital information necessary for the police to solve a problem. This partnership emphasizes the decentralized policing that improves the problem-solving and proactive approach to crimes and helps the police departments to work closely with the communities.
Community relations were operated on set policies. These policies were set to ensure community relations with the police to succeed. First, community relation required the active participation of the community members. This meant that community members should engage in the effort to ensure security in the communities themselves. Various communities were actively engaged in providing vital information on crimes to the police (Burke, 2010). It was not easy for the police to know what was happening in the communities, but with the active participation of the community members, the police department received information on time and responded to the matters as expected.
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For effective community engagement, the police and community members developed and maintained trust. Therefore, the community policing required a policing perspective that was beyond law enforcement. Therefore, the approach recognized the value of the police in contributing to the well-being of the community. The police engaged in working to improve the living conditions of the community members, conducting door-to-door visits to increase the perceptions of personal safety. Such activities helped to build trust between the police and the communities.
The commonly used police patrol program is foot patrols. The department I visited has the foot patrol police implemented. The foot patrol there is permanent since there is a department set aside in the area to deal with crimes and available staffs ready to respond to crimes. The program aims to improve the relationship between the community members and the police department (Hassell, 2006). The foot patrol combines their effort in data analysis of a crime that involves identifying the location, time, and the type of crimes. These data help the police to develop strategies that help to improve the quality of life and decrease crimes in the communities.
The foot patrol works within the communities in such a way that the police invite the community members to participate in the planning sessions. The planning session engages community members and officers to decide how they will obtain crime data in a community. In addition, the program has recruited members of the community ranging from officers to civilians. Officers and civilians use the various models of the patrol to demonstrate that they are capable of addressing the needs of the public. The foot patrol programs also have volunteers in the community who overview crime prevention programs and educate other community members of ways to prevent crimes (Hassell, 2006).
Further, bicycle patrols can be used since they are effective due to their easy penetration in congested areas. The police are responsible for responding to crime emergencies in the area. For effectiveness and accessibility by the community members, the departments have set posts in neighborhoods to ensure that crimes are reported and responded to on time. They collaborate with the community members who report crimes once they happen in the communities (Hassell, 2006). Community members are positive about these patrols in their areas. Most people I talked to said that these patrols are always available in case of a crime and the communities enjoy the security offered by these patrol programs. They work with community members and other volunteers in the community in educating other citizens on crime prevention and reduction.
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Patrol programs are an effective way to ensure that some community is secure. Different types of patrols are effective in different environments. Hence, they are applied differently. When police officers carry out patrols, they meet community members who, in most cases, fear the police. As a result, the community gains trust and build confidence in the police. As such, they end up sharing some of the hidden details that are important in police operations. In the long run, the police succeed in tracking down criminals or averting security threats.