Last year, several videos surfaced of police officers pulling over drivers for minor traffic violations only to surprise them with a free Thanksgiving turkey instead of a citation.

This is an example of community policing.

Community policing is not about letting people off the hook for traffic violations or free giveaways. It’s much more than that. It’s a policing technique used to create safer communities. But, what is this strategy, how does it work and how is it different from a neighborhood watch?

What Is Community Policing?

Community policing has been used by law enforcement for almost 30 years. It’s a personalized form of policing focused on creating a stronger bond between officers and the citizens they serve. Instead of responding to crime only when it occurs, police regularly patrol and engage with community members.

Whether it’s organizing lunches for the homeless or stopping to shoot hoops with neighborhood kids, community policing helps build a good relationship between officers and citizens. In return, people warm up to law enforcement and are more willing to help them with investigations or reporting. This leads to safer neighborhoods for both residents and officers.

How Is Community Policing Different Than a Neighborhood Watch?

Although they sound similar, community policing and neighborhood watches are much different.

Neighborhood watch groups are made up of residents. They meet regularly to discuss community issues, go over general safety guidelines, introduce security practices and discuss home security equipment. Police officers are not members of neighborhood watches. Although they might be heavily involved with the initial start up of a neighborhood watch, they aren’t regular participants.

Community policing only involves law enforcement professionals. Although it includes a level of interaction between law enforcement and community members, it’s strictly a police strategy.

How Can Community Policing Improve Your Security?

The police rely on citizens to report crime. Community policing is a way to increase police access. It’s focused on close collaboration with residents and law enforcement.

With improved access, community members can work with police to ensure their home security equipment is placed and installed in areas where it’s most effective. This includes:

This improves the safety of the entire community and also helps enhance the actions of law enforcement.  

What experiences do you have with community policing? Share in the comments below.