[vc_row][vc_column][trx_title style=”underline”]Objective A3: Police-Citizen Relations[/trx_title][vc_tta_pageable no_fill_content_area=”1″ active_section=”1″ pagination_color=”black”][vc_tta_section title=”Section 1″ tab_id=”1571871988885-d5141fd4-dd8c”][vc_column_text]Mindful of the conversation taking place here and across the country, an increased effort to improve community-police relations is not a luxury, but a core necessity, of good police work. It contributes substantially to a sustained sense of community well-being. Community policing is one, but very important, part of those improved relations. Adopted as an integral practice by many police forces across the country, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 endorsed community policing at the federal level, ultimately resulting in creation of the federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), which provided long-range funding in support of its use throughout the country. “Community policing is a law enforcement philosophy, a way of thinking about improving public safety. [C]ommunity policing efforts can generally be grouped into three broad categories: organizational transformation, community partnership, and problem solving. By definition, a comprehensive community policing model permeates almost every aspect of a police department …”

Each requires the other: stronger police-citizen relations can be built through community policing efforts, but effective community policing necessitates strong relationships in the communities in which the police serve. According to a Bureau of Justice publication, “[l]aw enforcement must establish legitimacy in the communities they serve if trusting relationships are to be established. For communities, their leaders and representatives must collaborate with law enforcement and share responsibility for addressing the problems of crime…prevention in their neighborhoods.”17

The Memphis Police Department is engaged in a community policing effort, both through training of patrol officers as well as a dedicated Community Outreach Program (COP) unit, which could be more robust. The Memphis Police Department cop unit has been effective. During the second Operation: Safe Community, as noted earlier, the Memphis Police Department Community Outreach Program (COP) officers conducted surveys relating to citizen complaints and satisfaction in two areas where the COP unit was active, South Memphis and Frayser. More than 74% of residents surveyed reported they were somewhat or very satisfied with their neighborhoods overall,[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Section 2″ tab_id=”1571871988886-713c73e7-b682″][vc_column_text]and more than 80% rated police services as good, very good, or excellent. 18 Both of these communities have higher violent crime rates than many other parts of the city, and the COP unit is part of a long term strategy to help reduce crime in those neighborhoods. The current Memphis Police Department COP unit became active in 2012. As executed by the Memphis Police Department, community policing encompasses more than the police department sponsoring community events to build good will. It includes officers out of patrol cars and on the ground, establishing important relationships that help prevent and solve crime. Memphis Police Department officers “address the problems in the target areas through a three prong (sic) approach: identification, enforcement and education.”19

Although the survey conducted in 2014 is some evidence of good will built through community policing, there is much more that can be done to improve community relations with the police department, both within these neighborhoods and elsewhere, and, at the same time, view these efforts through the practical and empirical lens of actual crime reduction in these communities.” Concordant efforts, for example, the department’s Clergy Academy, enhance this mission of building strong relationships with the community through faith-based initiatives.”

Citizens deserve safe communities, and both citizens and law enforcement deserve respect. Memphis has not been immune to controversial police action. However, through these ongoing community policing activities in certain portions of the city, Memphis has also laid some very important groundwork, and these efforts need to be both applauded and expanded.

Key Objective Outcomes:

  1. Increase the number and percentage of productive Crimestoppers contacts.”
  2. Increase the number and percentage of citizen-initiated tips/complaints that result in charges being filed.

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