Community Policing: Promoting Safety and Well-Being

Community Policing: Promoting Safety and Well-Being

By Chelsea Burton

 

The concept of community mobilization can be used interchangeably with the term “advocacy”, which is defined as an act or process of supporting a cause and/or proposal. This is a vital component of community policing applied contextually to Ontario police services. While it is understood that each service faces different challenges within their jurisdictions, we can agree that we are all working towards creating safer communities. This is the cohesion that acts as a backbone for community mobilization and advocacy.

 

Through consultation with Deputy Chief Andrew Fletcher of the South Simcoe Police Service, it is evident that the shared relationship between enforcement, engagement, and mobilization are key in the delivery of effective community policing. Following an analysis of Ontario’ Mobilization & Engagement Model of Community Policing Model, greater understanding of its flexible application can be established. Community mobilization is defined under the model as “actions and initiatives that police officers take to motivate and support neighbours to deal with the root causes of crime and insecurity in their neighbourhoods.” Deputy Chief Fletcher carries professional experiences of more than 30 years in policing, and his unwavering dedication as Chair of the OACP Community Safety & Crime Prevention Committee seeks to continually advance this model. It has been my pleasure to explore the importance of a strong connection between the community and police.

 

The Mobilization & Engagement Model centralizes community policing by emphasizing the necessity of a healthy relationship between police and the community, in order to move forward throughout the model. The central concept is then followed by the processes of assessment, planning, and action.  Police or community-led safety initiatives and crime prevention then occur, dependent on the level of police assistance required, through social development and/or situational measures.  Community-led problem solving efforts or a coordinated police response will result to address issues established in the stages of assessment, planning and action. Most importantly, each phase of the model moving from community and police to response and initiatives is based on the identified-need of the community.  Should the level of need for police assistance change, modifications can be implemented. This allows for the model to be interpreted and used flexibly to assist all Ontario police services.

 

Four vital components were identified in the successful use of the model. Each component relies on one another to create a holistic, best practices, and retain equal significance.

 

Leadership at the highest level is of great importance when discussing community policing. Vital community representatives such as Mayors, Municipal Counselors, other community and agency leaders, and Chiefs of Police must work together to support the community and advocate for change. How can community representatives be truly reflective of their communities’ needs? Lead by example and advocate for necessary change.

 

Following leadership is the collaboration segment. A collaborative effort must be established to move forward with mobilization and engagement at the local and provincial levels. The cooperation between police services and citizens is essential in effective safety promotion and problem-solving. The model seeks to promote an inclusive approach on behalf of all parties. In regard to prevention, a risk-focused approach places emphasis on assisting where the need is identified.  This component of mobilization identifies high-priority issues and utilizes best practices and the most appropriate agency or service to intervene and provide support. Deputy Chief Fletcher describes risk-focused policing as “Intelligence Led” or “Patrolling with a Purpose”.

 

The fourth and final facet of successful implementation and use of the mobilization model is information sharing. It is vital that all stakeholders work together to create transparent, open forums for communication to take place. This allows for all involved parties to ensure necessary resources are being utilized. The process of information sharing also takes place on a local level between residents and police services. Qualitative, on-the-ground information gathering and statistical analysis are equally as important in providing community outreach. Police services cannot patrol every corner of their community, therefore citizens play a key component in the process of information gathering and/or sharing.

 

It is evident that community policing is a complex and dynamic practice. Ontario’s Mobilization & Engagement Model of Community Policing focuses on “moving from theory to action” according to Deputy Chief Fletcher. Notably, community policing has been held as a philosophy to guide the manner in which policing is carried out. The model now provides a framework that identifies levels, roles, and responsibilities based upon identified needs within the community. There is not a singular manner as to how community policing is to be conducted. Each community is faced with different issues. However, the importance of a resilient bond between the community and police is present, province-wide. What better way to connect with the community than to work towards promoting safety and well-being?

 

This is Community Policing.

 

Note: I would like to give special thanks to Deputy Chief Andrew Fletcher of the South Simcoe Police Service for his time and insights into the subject-matter of community policing. Additionally, I would like to recognize the hard work and dedication of the OACP Community Safety and Crime Prevention Committee for being the driving force in the creation and promotion of Ontario’s Mobilization & Engagement Model of Community Policing.

 

Chelsea Burton is currently the OACP’s 2016 Placement Student from Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. She is completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice in 2017. Chelsea can be contacted at chelseaburton.oacp@gmail.com.