Theories on Policing and Communities Research Paper

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In most countries with an elaborate theory on policing, any discussion on topics such as “the police” and “the community” is bound to raise the issue of community policing. Although somewhat eclipsed in the early 2000s, the concept remained quite popular among policing organizations, many of which had built upon it in the 1980s–90s to reshape their outreach strategies. The actual meaning of the word “community” across the various countries, however, turns out to be rather loose and inconsistent: While in the USA or the UK, in particular, it is understood spontaneously as a rather obvious piece of common knowledge (Lewis 1969) with a natural impact on policing actions, in other countries such as France, for instance, it has a clearly negative aspect, linked to communitarianism as a perceived threat to the nation state. Beyond local discrepancies, a closer examination of the concept of community from an academic perspective raises complex epistemological issues that reach to the very foundations of sociology and which this research paper will not be able to cover. While refraining from delving too deep into intellectual discussions, however, this research paper will examine how the emergence of the concept influenced the perception of crime in societies and the subsequent responses by police forces. Indeed, policing actions are literally shaped by how the police perceive the people they are serving and/or controlling. Hence, a given community may be recognized by policemen either as an entity they belong to, or as an intruder in their own community, to be watched or even fought.

After an examination of the concepts and interpretations that tie together communities, social processes, and the modes of regulation of these processes, the link between community and policing will be explored via a literature review. Interestingly, the invention – or reinvention – of community policing in the 1970s–80s owes a lot to scholars – Anglo-Saxon scholars in particular – whose research on police efficiency and impact on people had led them to offer an alternative model to traditional policing. In many countries, especially those that never experienced a close-knit relationship of police forces with the people, such research elicited strong opposition from field professionals. Many a policeman found it hard to accept being challenged, sometimes painfully, from outside their profession. Resistance and reversals were frequent reactions. Why a model that has so often been advocated as ideal proved so difficult to deploy will have to be analyzed and explained. Whatever tensions were triggered by the implementation of community policing may have been underestimated by scholars, even though some studies did eventually tackle the issue later on. As for opponents to this policy, their perspective will be interesting to explore as well.

The Concept Of Community, Cities, And Security

In a human and social science perspective, the concept of community was first and foremost meant to describe some form of primarily rural social organization, as described by To¨ nnies (1887) and the early Max Weber (1948). This matters to us insofar as, in countries where rural and urban policing are organized separately, community policing practices are sometimes nothing more than successful country police endeavors transposed to urban policing. To¨ nnies (1887) distinguished the community (Gemeinschaft) from the society (Gesellschaft). To him, the community was a form of organization peculiar to traditional rural life, where people are bonded by family, neighborhood, and religious and custom ties. Community (Gemeinschaft) members understand each other and form a closely knit group, organizing their lives together. The Gesellschaft, on the other hand, is a by-product of modernity characterized by truly diverse ways of thinking. Far from sharing common values, individuals compete, hence the rise of individualism. Such an outlook generates a “naturally” pessimistic view of modern societies and how to regulate them. As far as this research paper’s field of study – namely security – is concerned, policing such societies obviously seems more complex and difficult than policing communities, where self-regulation does prevail somehow.

The vanishing agrarian community – understood as a community of interests uniting farm workers and landowners – was a theme that also appeared in Weber’s work, albeit in a slightly different sense. Rural exodus was compounded by a refusal to further community ties. Weber’s communities were not fossilized (Weber 1971): although rooted in feelings and emotions – Vergemeinschaftung –, they also involved a process of rational consultation among individual members – Vergesellschaftung. Weber’s contribution to the understanding of the agricultural world notwithstanding, his analyses are useful to us for at least three reasons. First because he took research themes that hitherto pertained specifically to rural world communities and applied them to urban communities, thus probably influencing scholars from the School of Chicago. Secondly because Weber is the one who connected and matched social organization matters and legitimation mode issues (Weber ibid.): Modern societies are regulated by law, and this legal, rational legitimacy forms the foundation of the State’s authority. And thirdly, within the framework thus designed, the State holds the monopoly of legitimate physical coercion on its territory. By contrast, as can be seen, such lines of reasoning highlight another issue, namely, the tensions that may appear between a given political community, legally endowed with this monopoly, and other types of communities which, although embedded in this larger political community, nevertheless challenge its legitimacy.

Building up on this body of research, and confronting it to extensive field work, the School of Chicago of the 1930s–40s inscribed this concern for the community in its treatment of crime, adding what at the time was a novel dimension: preventing crime and looking for its roots. Scholars working on the Chicago area Joliet prison – Clifford Shaw in particular (Shaw 1930; Shaw and Mc Kay 1942) – were instrumental in the inception of these groundbreaking theories. Following up on the works of Robert E. Park (1952), they identified as the main source of juvenile delinquency the changes undergone at the time by primary institutions – the family, the church, the social group – because of urbanization. Outside the rural context, the socializing power of these institutions, whereby they traditionally induced young people to adopt conventional – or at least noncriminal – attitudes, was being upset by the characteristics of urban life. Scholars found that city life allowed a manifold increase in social exchanges that led to segmented, superficial, and utilitarian relationships, with social ties becoming too numerous, heterogeneous, and instable (Wirth 1938). Faced with the opportunity of making varied acquaintances outside the groups “covered” by primary institutions, young people were less supervised and had more occasions to go astray. Crime and delinquency were thus viewed as a by-product of urban life, as opposed to individual instances of misbehavior. Massive immigration only contributed to reinforce this disruption pattern.

To address such “drifts,” the socialization of young people in urban areas was entrusted to schools and police forces – secondary institutions as per the above-mentioned scholars’ classification, who considered such institutions as generally unable to tackle the problem. The main option to address this desocialization process, they thought, would have been to restore some social control by helping primary institutions adjust and strengthen themselves. One of the key ideas is that communities should solve their problems on their own, possibly with some help from support groups. Some of these scholars envisioned a radical shift in the role of police forces, who should not restrict themselves to law enforcement, but actively partake in the reinforcement of the capacity of primary groups to socially integrate young people. Social control would thus become the main weapon in the struggle against deviance.

This primarily “environmental” view of crime – and its implications on policing – attracted early and numerous criticisms, including those voiced by Robert Merton or William F. Whyte. The former (Merton 1938) considered that deviance stems from a discrepancy between whatever goals society offers to its members and the means it affords them to reach these goals. For instance, barring adequate educational or social networking resources, underprivileged youths willing to “strike it rich” – one of the major values in modern societies – will be led to seek alternative means of achieving their goal, i.e., they will resort to deviant behavior patterns. In such a framework, deviant behavior patterns are not ascribed to discrepancies between the norms of the various groups embedded in a given society and the ensuing imbalances. Quite the opposite, actually, all members of society share common values and goals, but follow different paths to reach them.

Then, W. F. Whyte showed that while traditional rules inherited from peasant societies do tend to decline when confronted to modern society, new rules and groups emerge as well (Whyte 1943). Whatever anomie scholars may have found is largely attributable to their looking for a model of society that would replicate theirs, thus diminishing their ability to identify rules that do not fit prior knowledge. It should be noted that, in Whyte’s Cornerville, local police were integrated to the local society, through corruption and gift practices in particular. According to Whyte, policing can be conceived of in two different ways. The middle class considers that police forces should fearlessly enforce the law and refrain from any preferential treatment, while Cornerville people and the police themselves think that the latter should be trusted by locals so that they can solve problems without arresting anybody. Both perspectives are largely antagonistic: Extreme law-abidance makes it impossible for policemen to act as conciliators, while excessive familiarity stands in the way of their repressive role.

The Impact Of Victimization

In the USA, the late 1960s gave new impetus to discussions on the relationships between the police and the community, thanks to a new approach that, instead of focusing on wrongdoers only, started to take victims into account. The idea was to explore the causes of “crime fear” and measure the potential link between such a fear and actual victimization: in other words, to distinguish facts – direct or indirect (i.e., through personal acquaintances) confrontation with crime – from the perceived level of fear of persons who never experienced such a confrontation themselves. So-called victimization surveys, by confronting concerns and actual life experiences, were supposed to help test how relevant this link between fear and actual crime was. More importantly perhaps, they offered an opportunity to check the relevance of existing measures, i.e., to test police statistics. Surveys conducted directly with the population allowed scholars to spot potential discrepancies between statistics provided by policing organizations and their own, later dubbed the “dark figures of crime.” This eventually led to questioning the propensity of victims to lodge complaints, their faith in policing actions, or the actual willingness of the police to register complaints. Such interrogations on fear reflect – more or less directly – questionings on the actual role of police forces, how much citizens trust them, and their ability to penetrate the various communities.

Victimization surveys revealed a conspicuous lack of congruence between actual crime and the feeling of insecurity, or more precisely between the number of registered criminal acts – thefts, burglaries, assaults, abductions, murders – and crime fear levels (Ennis 1967; Reiss 1967). This lack of direct causality triggered many interpretations, from the concept of vulnerability (Stinchcombe 1978), allegedly explaining highest fear levels among women and senior citizens, to the linking of crime fear and fear of foreigners – foreign to the neighborhood, or foreign in the sense of not belonging to the same ethnic community –, a frequent staple of research at the time (Skogan 1976). John Conklin established a link between crime fear and the community (Conklin 1975). He opposed Durkheim’s idea that crime contributed to bonding the community together by reinforcing social ties between “honest” people (Durkheim 1998). In fact, his field studies rather tended to show that crime produced insecurity, defiance, and a negative view of the community. It seemed to him that crime reduced interactions between neighbors, since fear and suspicion tend to estrange people rather than unite them, at which point social control on deviant behaviors becomes impossible. Faced with crime, people react individually, with fear and withdrawal, rather than in the collective fashion Durkheim envisioned. To Conklin, individual responses to delinquency tend to sever social links, a vicious circle that reinforces fear – including the fear of one’s own neighbors – and, as a backlash, fosters criminal behavior patterns, which are encouraged by the resulting lack of social control. In a similar vein, James Q. Wilson highlighted the fact that crime impedes the building of sustainable communities (Wilson 1975). Following up on To¨ nnies’ conception of individualism, he insisted that crime tends to destroy the formal and informal links that bond people to their neighbors, which “atomizes society” and turns all of us into increasingly individualistic schemers. Thus, a shared response to crime would be the only option granting us an opportunity to build or rebuild the community.

Policing is also impacted in this approach: Subjection to crime, when individualized, reduces public support to law and order enforcement institutions. Impacted people are reluctant to press charges, preferring to criticize police activity, or the lack thereof, feeling that the authorities are unable to protect them or prevent crime. Conklin listed several potential collective responses to crime, which included “work[ing] for a political candidate who promises to restore law and order”, “call[ing] meetings of community residents”, “band[ing] together in a civilian police patrol [.. .]”. Residents of the areas most exposed to threats or fear should simultaneously be involved in a reassessment of police work and priorities. Similarly, the fear of foreigners should be tackled by countering the general hostility of the police toward them.

Community And Policing

In the wake of these and similar analyses, the late 1980s saw the emergence – first in the USA, then in Europe – of various concepts and methods aiming both to restore this community bond and profoundly renovate the role of police forces. While in France, any estrangement of the Police Nationale from the citizenry was largely attributable to the primacy of law and order in the policing agenda, municipal police forces in the USA mainly had to answer charges of corruption and nepotism. Still, in the 1980s, although their organizational structures and guiding principles differed significantly, both forces conjured up a rather similar imagery of brutality, racism, and social conservatism (Skolnick 1966; Westley 1970; Ericson 1982). Both also reflected a classical phenomenon, pervasive in policing literature, namely, the freedom of action enjoyed by street policemen, who may cherry-pick whatever cases they are interested in. Such discretionary behavior can be held in check by community control (Mastrofski 2004).

In the USA, the rebuilding of communities was thus also dependent on improving policing as a service to the public through far-reaching amendments of its practices, and transforming the relationships between the police and the people they were confronted with. Still, community policing remains hard to define in general terms – after all, adjustment to the local context is supposed to be one of its salient features in the first place. To simplify, one might say that it is more a process and a state of mind than a fixed operating model. “In a definitional sense, community policing is not something one can easily characterize. It involves reforming decision-making processes and creating new cultures within police departments; it is not a packet of specific tactical plans. It is an organizational strategy that redefines the goals of policing, but leaves the means of achieving them to practioners in the field. It is a process rather than a product.” (Skogan and Hartnett 1997). Lowering the feeling of insecurity is just as much – possibly even more – a goal as lowering the crime rate or actual criminality, but it should be done with the community in mind, i.e., the locals should be involved. Community policing should contribute to improving communication between the police and the people, with the former working to achieve goals fixed by the latter. This general goal can translate into multiple practices, from satisfaction surveys to local meetings, neighborhood watches, activities for the youth, bicycle or foot patrols, etc. The basic idea is to decentralize and scale down policing to increase proximity with the field. Skolnick and Bayley identified four elements that make community policing the future of policing (Skolnick and Bayley 1986): police-community reciprocity, areal decentralization of command, reorientation of patrol and civilianization. Capitalizing on their privileged relationship with the citizenry, policemen are expected to “coproduce” security.

On a related note, Herman Goldstein (1990) noticed that police forces mostly focused on their means – organizational structure, staffing, equipment – as opposed to their objectives, considering that improving or increasing the former must result in an improved quality of service. Goldstein offered an alternative in the concept of “problem-oriented policing,” an operating mode that would put a stronger emphasis on meeting the public’s needs. He particularly insisted on the necessity for the police to respond not just to crime, but also to other problems raised by people, always with a nongeneric, non-stereotyped, customized response. This was meant to deal with minor disturbances, such as noise, which trigger repeated incidents and police interventions, but find no real solution. Besides, problems should not be addressed through legal channels only. Other resources, including partnerships, are available. Generally speaking, it can be said that problem-oriented policing explicitly raises the issue of how to assess police work and its efficiency. Beyond corporatist demands, policemen are encouraged to question their own methods as well as the impact of their action on identified problems.

On this basis, many local police forces in the USA implemented their own, more or less preventive, repressive, wide-scale, or focused on one specific department versions of community policing and problem-oriented policing, eliciting a rather keen interest from the management and active volunteer participation, but with mixed interest at best from many rank-and-file policemen. In Europe too, the problem-solving approach and the idea of closing the gap between the police and the people enjoyed a real, if uneven success, depending on the country. More often than not, in France or the UK, for instance, this rapprochement was made to look like a “back to basics” approach, with the management building up on the image of an idealized policing past – Robert Peel’s bobbies, the Paris ˆılotiers – to convince policemen to establish better relationships with the people.

This drive toward community-oriented policing, however, never took the shape of a unanimous, universal wave. Starting in the 1980s, law and order rhetoric and policies gradually took over in western democracies, so much so that even such an ideal of the iconic English bobby was weakened (Reiner 2000).

Zero Tolerance: A Backlash?

To a certain extent, the so-called New-York model and its corollary, “zero tolerance,” are usually considered to be the antithesis of community policing. To many commentators, only one facet of this model has ever mattered: increased repression whereby each and every illegal act is penalized – the judicial system (or other institutions) even starting to take “acts of incivility” into account. It appears, however, both to promoters of this strategy and to many commentators that this course of action is not entirely at odds with community policing, theoretically at least (Silverman 1999). The New-York Police Department, although sometimes reluctant to admit it, was inspired by a peculiar reading of James Q. Wilson and Georges L. Kelling’s now famous broken windows theory (Wilson and Kelling 1982). While the theory is unanimously recognized for explaining with utmost clarity the absolute necessity of bringing a swift response to any urban phenomenon that could be construed as suggesting that law enforcement authorities are giving up the fight, many beg to differ as per the “coercive” reading of it. Some, including G. Kelling (Kelling and Coles 1996), deny that they ever automatically associated the broken windows theory and the aggressive policing strategy known as zero tolerance. Others, possibly encouraged by further publications by Wilson himself, do however see a direct link between both, and either praise or criticize it. They insist on the fact that the “soft policing” interpretation of this theory neglects the fundamental function of police forces, namely, coercion, while inevitably advocating the existence of unrestrained, as opposed to legally constrained, police forces (Terrill and Mastrofski 2004). The underlying idea, quite popular among police officers, is that community policing stands in the way of their “real” job, which consists in fighting crime. The zero tolerance discourse is well received insofar as it focuses back on this priority.

In practice, the New-York police were seen implementing a policing strategy aimed at certain criminal activities – narcotics trafficking, illegal gun possession, car theft, corruption – while also focusing on street crime and “quality-of-life” policing – coercive police practices targeting street disorder, including prostitution, public alcohol consumption, public urination, littering, panhandling, or even “squeegeeing.” Heckling youths were targeted as well. Against such behaviors, reconquering the streets involved arresting, controlling, warning people, and resorting to force whenever necessary. Tolerance zero strategies flourished in the Western world, next to community policing. The popular success of discourses and practices based on this concept – not just with policemen, but also with part of the general population – begs the question of what a community is and how useful the concept can be in the modern, even postmodern, individualistic world where even its definition is problematic. Is it dealing with ethnic, religious, generational, or just territory-based communities? In which case, how can a common policing strategy be designed to meet the needs of all citizens, although their interests diverge – the youth vs. the elderly, those who enjoy an animated life vs. those who long for a quiet environment, shopkeepers vs. people living on the street, etc.? More often than not, community policing may dissimulate some favoritism toward specific social groups – the well-off, the most integrated, those who “most resemble the police” – at the expense of others. As compared to zero tolerance, community policing, instead of fostering a police force able to restore communities and fight anomie, may prove to be nothing more than an ersatz of evolution, some sort of concealment and circumlocution (Klockars 1988). In other words, announcing a shift toward community policing may not be enough to alter the fundamental practices and philosophy of the police. In particular, a zero tolerance policy may turn out to be nothing more than a pretext to increase police pressure on those who are considered uncivil or unruly – beggars, prostitutes, youths occupying public spaces.

“Who does the community police force work for?” is a question that can also be framed in ethnic or racial terms. As pointed out by Skogan (2006) about Chicago, one of the areas where community policing has been most efficiently implemented, it was perceived quite differently in each the “three Chicagos” identified by him: White, African-American, and Latino. In Europe, several countries have faced racial riots that highlighted the urgency of questioning the adequacy of policing with regard to racial issues. In this respect, a comparison of the French riots of 2005 and the English riots of the years 1980–2005 provides a case in point (Waddington et al. 2009). Few policing systems are more dissimilar indeed: Ever since 2002, the French model has been characterized by the rejection of any notion of proximity policing (Monjardet 1996), whereas historically, English police forces are known to have consistently championed community policing. Still, in both countries, young people from ethnic minorities and underprivileged neighborhoods are specifically “targeted” by the police (Bowling et al. 2003). Such groups are always subjected to more surveillance and more zero tolerance policies than others. Besides, it is quite clear that the general attitude of the police toward them has been a key factor in both outbreaks of riots. The triggering factor has often been the arrest and subsequent death of a youth at the hands of the police. Integrating youths from these very minorities in the police forces is an option that has been implemented in some English cities, with disappointing results, especially as far as discriminations with regard to identity checks go. France, however, is adamant that such a differential treatment conflicts with a “republican” tradition holding that no discrimination can be made among French citizens based on ethnic criteria. Theoretically, all nationals have equal legal rights, regardless of their origins. Hence, no community is ever recognized as such. Yet, in practice, several studies did reveal the existence of ongoing discriminatory practices.

The emergence of stringent anti-terrorist policies in the wake of 9/11 and the developing struggle against illegal immigration in most western democracies only accentuated this drive toward the “targeting” of ethnic or religious minorities. At this point, not only do the professional habits of the police incite them to focus their action on minorities and youths from alleged rough areas, but the struggle against illegal immigration officially encourages this. As a matter of fact, illegal immigrants are primarily sought among visible minorities, which reinforces police pressure on these and makes them acutely aware of not quite belonging to the national community. The conscious or unconscious amalgamation of matters such as illegal immigration, terrorism, and incivilities concurs to the gradual estrangement of these ethnic or religious communities. Again, the USA, with their wide range of practices, gives us some food for thought. While many cities responded favorably to the federal policy initiated in 2002 to reinforce the struggle against immigration, many others, among the largest – including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, or Washington – flatly declined to engage in this. Refusing to allow the police to inquire into the immigration status of persons arrested for minor offenses, they started designating themselves as “sanctuary cities” for immigrants (Skogan 2009). The arguments put forward are key to this discussion. When the local police is deeply involved in community policing programs, any mass action against illegal aliens that might jeopardize progress made in terms of cooperation with immigrants will simply be ruled out. Information from these communities can only be accessed on the basis of a trust-based relationship, which in turn rests on a benevolent attitude from the police. The bottom line is that illegal immigrants are an ideal prey for criminals, insofar as they do not have the option of lodging complaints, for fear of being convicted themselves. Besides, because they entered the country illegally, they can only gain illegal access to whatever services, housing, jobs, or usury they might need. They become potential recruits for criminal organizations.

In that case, the presence of a lenient, understanding police force is an asset in the fight against this multiform criminality. From this point of view – and not unusually, as far as policing studies are concerned – establishing privileged contacts that might yield useful, legally exploitable information entails building a mutually beneficial relationship: Using their discretionary, police officers may turn a blind eye on some petty offenses in order to gain access to such information. Which raises yet another issue, one that obviously impacts not just illegal immigrants and cooperating offenders, but the citizenry as well, namely, the increasing judicialization of policing activities, which restrains the discretionary leeway of police officers.

Scrupulous law-abidance is indeed a growing trend among police officers, both because of increased surveillance from police control institutions – magistrates, internal control departments, ombudsmen, human rights NGOs – and because of the higher education officers have received in legal matters, which has improved dramatically. This can only be positive, since police abuse should considerably decrease as a result. There is, however, a downside in that this judicialization induces the police to reject all flexibility in order to abide by the law, which is detrimental not just to their efficiency, but also to their negotiation margins. They are less inclined to adjust their behavior to the members of the various communities they are facing, and refuse to engage in such negotiations as mentioned above, trading leniency for information. Given increasingly restricting modes of management, this legal burden is hampering all attempts at developing any kind of proximity police. While problem-solving policing requires bottom-up operational processes, police management is increasingly top-down orientated.

Avatars Of Community Policing

The coexistence of such different logics as community policing and law and order policies has bred hybrid practices that make it difficult to unambiguously interpret their induced effects. A case in point here is intelligence-led policing, a more recent concept that is quite illustrative of the ambiguities produced by the various interpretations of community policing and its confrontation to other logics. Intelligence-led policing was developed in the 1990s when authorities in GreatBritain and Australia were striving for efficiency in both policing and cost-management (Ratcliffe 2002). Even prior to 9/11, it was recognized that the traditional policing model needed to be reformed because it was unable to cope with the major changes induced by globalization. The idea was to turn the police into “knowledge workers” trained in dealing with the risk society (Ericson and Haggerty 1997). This could only be achieved by constantly maintaining high levels of awareness to the environment and the changes it was going through. Next, with the help of analysts organized in support teams, they had to be able to build up an understanding of this changing environment. Finally, they were expected to transmit their findings to decision-makers. The targeted goal was increased efficiency: Analysis is expected to help define clear-cut priorities, not letting the police spread themselves too thin and operate too routinely on day-to-day habits. Efficiency and budgetary requirements are two closely intertwined factors here.

From a theoretical perspective, intelligence-led policing is perfectly compatible with both community policing and problem-solving policing. All three approaches share the common purpose of trying to bypass mundane bureaucratic police procedures and adjust the priorities imposed upon the organization to the ongoing changes of the environment. In practice, intelligence-led policing has helped remotivate a number of policemen who had grown disenchanted of community policing. Indeed, given the lack of enthusiasm elicited by community policing – particularly in the general context of developing terrorist threats and focus on zero tolerance – entrusting a proximity police force with intelligence assignments certainly contributed to enhancing its professional legitimacy. Undoubtedly, promoting rank-and-file community policemen, who occupy the lowest echelons in the informal hierarchy of policing, to the status of intelligence and analysis agents could only be perceived as gratifying.

The discourse on intelligence-led policing, however, is certainly not devoid of contradictions, either intrinsic or relative to the principles of community policing. Its very implementation is fraught with practical difficulties, to begin with. But what is primarily interesting here are the tensions generated by the confrontation of beat policemen, who spontaneously adjust to their environment, with external analysts. This is a classic dilemma of policing, and one which was already covered here: should the policing agenda be set by public demand or by uninvolved analysts who do not in any way relate to the contingencies of police-public interactions? Whether such people belong to the traditional hierarchical organization, as in the classic militarized model, or are mere “technocrats” outside that hierarchy makes no difference from this point of view. Secondly, performance evaluation raises more questions than it can answer, being based on criteria that are all too prone to excesses and manipulations. Policing productivity criteria have lots of pernicious consequences, including in particular the targeting of “small fry,” minor offenders that generate high productivity statistics, instead of the “big fish,” who require more work for a seemingly inferior output.

Finally, to conclude on community policing, it should be noted that recent developments may be taking us toward absolutely novel forms of community policing. In countries with highly centralized, nation-wide policing processes, such as France, local forces are increasingly tasked with proximity assignments, leaving “real policing” to the Police Nationale. More generally, communities tend to rely on themselves to assume a regulation role that traditional police forces do not, or not properly, fulfill. In upscale neighborhoods, this leads to the creation of gated communities. In poorer areas, either self-defense groups get organized to protect the community, or criminal groups see to the security of those they consider part of their own community, thus effectively supplanting the police, who are alien to it. Indeed, the concept of “community” has a risky side to it, and can lead to self-imprisonment and withdrawal.


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