Congratulations to Stephen Mansell, Senior Superintendent of Police and Commander ‘D’ Division for his bold community-oriented policing and problem-solving (COPPS) approach towards the reduction of crime and the fear of crime in his division. Stabroek News, Sunday June 21, 2015 under the caption ,’Police ‘D’ Division, Leonora technical school offer Region 3 youth second chance’ refers.
Police-community relations are nothing new. They stem from Sir Robert Peel’s belief that “the police are the public and the public is the police.”
Miller and Hess (2002) defined community policing as, “A philosophy or orientation that emphasises working with citizens to solve crime-related problems and prevent crimes.” They note, “community policing offers one avenue for making neighbourhoods safer. Community policing is not a programme or a series of programmes. It is a philosophy, a belief that working together, the police and the community can accomplish what neither can accomplish alone. The synergy that results from community policing can be powerful. It is like the power of a finely tuned athletics team with each member contributing to the total effort. Occasionally heroes may emerge, but victory depends on a team effort.”
Fraser (2020) stresses “Police need to act as problem-solvers and peace-makers in their communities. Police and citizens must work together if we are to develop long term solutions to crime, and if we are to enhance trust between the police and the communities they serve. Problems can best be eliminated when the community and government coordinate and cooperate, for example, police may be called repeatedly to a boarded up house to arrest trespassers. With interagency cooperation the house could be rehabilitated and become an asset to the neighbourhood, not a haven for criminals. The Law Enforcement challenges are many. They defy any one-shot solution. A holistic approach towards problem-solving and crime reduction is required. Piecemeal efforts will only produce piecemeal results.”
However, be aware that community -orientation policing and problem-solving is only one of the several tactics that can be used to enhance the reduction of crime. There are others that can be easily designed, developed,implemented and evaluated .
The police must not only be engrossed with the success of one activity. They must not lose sight of their mission, their core functions, which include the prevention and detection of crimes and the maintenance of law and order.
Mansell’s initiative can be replicated and sustained across the various police divisions. If other commanders despite their unique constraints are not singing from the same song sheet as Mansell they may be unable to reduce crime in their respective divisions. Commanders who had similar successful programmes should blow their own trumpets. Who else will do it for them? COPPS must be active in all the police divisions. It will develop trust, integrity and respect. Greater public confidence in the police will emerge.