EXEMPLARY STANDARD

EXEMPLARY STANDARD 204. Maintaining Order & Enhancing the Quality of Life

 An important dimension of the “protect and serve” policing mission concerns the responsibility to maintain peace and public order to enhance the quality of community life. This broad mission goal encompasses the enforcement of laws designed to protect citizens from physical harm but it also encompasses a duty to assure that all citizens can enjoy their homes and public places.

Exemplary Standard 204. Maintaining and Enhancing Quality of Life. An Exemplary Policing Agency enforces the law and employs community-supported strategies to preserve peace and order and increase the quality of community life by creating an environment where people who live in, work in and visit the community feel safe, secure and well protected.

204(A). Offensive Conduct. An Exemplary Policing Agency improves the quality of life by developing strategies and action plans and to providing training and resources to officers to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to prevent and mitigate nuisances, disturbances of the peace, public drunkenness, panhandling, loitering, vandalism, indecent exposure, use of offensive or threatening language, fighting, loud music, vandalism, invasions of privacy, trespass and other offensive conduct.

204(B). Regulating Traffic. The agency improves the quality of life by employing professional traffic management strategies to ensure safe and convenient use of highways, streets and other public areas.

In many communities, a substantial amount of resources must be devoted to preventing and mitigating nuisances, public drunkenness, offensive panhandling, vandalism, indecent exposure, graffiti disturbances of the peace and other offensive conduct. The problem is complicated because persons involved in these sorts of offensive conduct are often intoxicated or suffering from a mental illness or disability. Moreover, when offenders are unstable there is an increased risk of resistance and violence which may result in the use of force by officers. Consequently, an Exemplary Policing Agency provides special training and resources to protect offenders, the public and officers.

204(C). Crowd Management. An Exemplary Policing Agency  employs professional crowd management strategies and provides training to officers to protect the rights and physical well-being of participants, bystanders and others and prevents rioting, vandalism and other illegal or harmful conduct arising from demonstrations, protests, parades and other large gatherings.

From the quality of life perspective, the free flow of traffic is a central concern of most citizens. An exemplary policing agency recognizes that intelligent planning and policing can make a huge difference and works with other agencies to remove road hazards quickly, reduce congestion and prevent disruption of the use of public places and transportation. Another dimension of public order relates to the regulation of crowds and demonstrations in a way that safeguards Constitutional rights of free speech and assembly and also protects citizens from injury. In formulating detailed and definitive professional guidelines for “Crowd Management, Intervention and Control”[1], the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) highlights the many issues raised by the way the police handle crowd management responsibilities including: protection of Constitutional rights, fair and impartial enforcement of laws, protection of life and property, public peace, officer safety, preventing disruption to commerce and community affairs. An exemplary agency ensures that its strategies and training conform to the POST standards.

204(D). Reducing Fear of Crime and Increasing Citizen Satisfaction. An Exemplary Policing Agency employs proven strategies of police-citizen interaction to reduce the fear of crime and disorder, generate citizen satisfaction and create an environment where residents and visitors feel safe and secure.

Every police executive knows that police officers spend most of their time not chasing or arresting suspects but talking to people. The research summarized in this report indicates that if officers work harder at talking and listening to citizens, they can reduce the fear of crime and, in some cases, even crime itself.[2]

Why is it Important? James Q. Wilson, Chairman of the Board of the Police Foundation makes a strong case for the importance of reducing fear of crime as a separate and distinct goal from actually reducing crime:The quality of community life is not only affected by actual victimization and incidences of crime, it is also affected by the pervasiveness and intensity of fear of crime. Thus, an Exemplary Policing Agency includes in its mission goals the responsibility to create an environment where people who live in, work in and visit the community feel safe, secure and well protected.

The pervasive fear of crime is a threat to organized society—it makes citizens suspicious of one another, erodes the sense of community upon which a decent neighborhood life depends, and weakens the confidence of the people in their government. Though the level of fear is often way out of proportion to the actual risk of victimization, it should not for this reason be dismissed as groundless or hysterical. Nor can fear be reduced by simply telling people that they have an exaggerated notion of the risks they face. . . . Fear of crime has very practical consequences. It tends to imprison citizens within their homes, dry up commercial activity in a neighborhood, isolate residents from each other, and abandon the streets to the very sort of criminal and disorderly behavior which feeds fear of crime initially.[3]

Reducing the Fear of Crime and Increasing Citizen Satisfaction

Creating a sense of security and reducing the fear of crime is a critical aspect of citizen satisfaction with their policing agency. But it no easy matter. Even where an agency can demonstrate with comprehensive and current data that the risk of victimization is probably much less than some citizens fear such data, especially in high crime areas, may actually fuel fears. Some agencies have made the mistake of sacrificing credibility by deliberately understating incidences of crime to enhance a sense of security.

Actual crime and perceptions of crime are two separate issues

Among studies about citizen satisfaction reviewed by the National Institute of Justice[4], all of them (100%) found that citizens had lower overall satisfaction and confidence in the police when they had higher levels of fear of crime and disorder (such as trash, graffiti, abandoned cars, loud music, loitering homeless people, etc.). Unfortunately, actual reductions in crime do not result in low or even lowered fear.

204(D)(1). Continuous Interaction. The agency develops a policy that encourages or requires intentional, non-enforcement, face-to-face interaction between officers and citizens in the neighborhoods they serve.

 It may be no easy task to convince field officers of the importance of initiating causal conversations with citizens, including youths who are used to being rousted about. Some officers may not believe it is effective or that the familiarity will diminish their authority. Other officers may simply be uncomfortable socially. The fact, remains that the research is pretty powerful that making this sort of communication process is almost certain to increase citizen cooperation and satisfaction and reduce the fear of crime.Research indicates that intentional, non-enforcement, face-to-face contact between officers and citizens in the neighborhoods worked best at reducing citizen fear of crime and increasing citizen satisfaction. The researchers warned, however, that effective interaction has to be sincere and personal rather than “public relations fluff such as handing out pencils and stickers to kids.”[5]

Creating a culture where officers are comfortable with and committed to initiating and maintaining community relations through direct proactive conversations may be a great challenge in some agencies. Demonstrations and specific training in this area, especially by FTOs and field sergeants can be very effective.

It is important to avoid a mechanical or strictly quota approach. In an exemplary agency officers know that Citizens tend to feel more secure when: 1) there is regular direct contact and positive conversations between officers and citizens including door-to-door contact, community organizing, and police storefront operations; 2) take the time to understand community issues and concerns and their perceptions of the police and their effectiveness in creating a safe community.

204(D)(2). Problem Solving Meetings. The agency has an active community relations strategy that includes convening problem-solving meetings to identify major community problems and engage interested citizens in formulating potential solutions and action plans.

Direct engagement in community meetings is another tactic that can be used to increase citizen satisfaction and decrease fear of crime. While studies showed that participation in neighborhood watch and “town hall” meetings where citizens came to state their grievances with the police, had only a small impact on fear of crime and satisfaction, community meetings focused on problem-solving were much more effective. One successful format was for the agency to invite neighborhood residents to meet, receive instruction in problem-oriented policing strategies and the S.A.R.A. process[6], and then work in small groups with officers to develop strategies for addressing specific neighborhood problems that were of concern to neighborhood residents. All of the studies of community problem-oriented meetings with citizens found they reduced fear of crime among the participants and increased their satisfaction with the police.[7] .

204(E). Social Services. An Exemplary Policing Agencies provides quality non-law enforcement and non-emergency social services to promote the well-being of citizens including:

(1). Assistance. Assisting citizens who are lost or in distress.

(2). Missing Persons. Locating missing persons, children and pets.

(3) Information. Providing information and directions to citizens.

(4). Truants. Returning truant juveniles to schools or their homes.

 

[1]“Crowd Management, Intervention and Control http://lib.post.ca.gov/Publications/CrowdMgtGuidelines.pdf

[2] Foreword, “Reducing Fear of Crime in Houston and Newark A Summary Report”, Antony M. Pate, Mary Ann Wycoff, Wesley G. Skogan, Lawrence W. Sherman. Police Foundation, National Institute of Justice.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Foreword, “Reducing Fear of Crime in Houston and Newark A Summary Report”, Antony M. Pate, Mary Ann Wycoff, Wesley G. Skogan, Lawrence W. Sherman. Police Foundation, National Institute of Justice. “

[5] “The effect of police presence on public fear reduction and satisfaction: a review of the literature”, Zhao, J., Scheider, M., & Thurman, Q. (2002). The justice Professional, 15(3), 273. The researchers examined 10 studies of initiatives focusing on conscientious and consistent citizen-police and found that 100% showed decreases in fear of crime and increases in citizen satisfaction with the police. For example, a program in Houston required officers to have at least two non-law enforcement interactions per shift; other studies involved situations where officers were assigned specific addresses at which they were to conduct their contacts. Regardless of method, the same results were found.

[6] The SARA Model described at http://www.popcenter.org/about/?p=sara consists of Scanning (Identifying recurring problems of concern to the public and the police; Identifying the consequences of the problem for the community and the police; Prioritizing those problems; Developing broad goals; Confirming that the problems exist; Determining how frequently the problem occurs and how long it has been taking place; Selecting problems for closer examination. Analysis: Identifying and understanding the events and conditions that precede and accompany the problem; Identifying relevant data to be collected; Researching what is known about the problem type; Taking inventory of how the problem is currently addressed and the strengths and limitations of the current response; Narrowing the scope of the problem as specifically as possible; Identifying a variety of resources that may be of assistance in developing a deeper understanding of the problem; Developing a working hypothesis about why the problem is occurring. Response: Brainstorming for new interventions; Searching for what other communities with similar problems have done; Choosing among the alternative interventions; Outlining a response plan and identifying responsible parties; Stating the specific objectives for the response plan; Carrying out the planned activities. Assessment:  Determining whether the plan was implemented (a process evaluation; Collecting pre– and post–response qualitative and quantitative data; Determining whether broad goals and specific objectives were attained; Identifying any new strategies needed to augment the original plan; Conducting ongoing assessment to ensure continued effectiveness.

[7] REDUCING FEAR OF CRIME AND INCREASING CITIZEN SUPPORT FOR POLICE, September 2015, by Richard R. Johnson, Ph.D, PATC Legal & Liability Risk Management Institute  http://www.patc.com/weeklyarticles/print/2015_johnson_reducingfear.pdf

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