I feel that over the past few years lately, I have heard a lot of people asking why community policing is not practiced more and what changed. While I believe community policing is beneficial I do not think it will have as big of an impact as others may believe. The shooting of the two Gilchrist Deputies in Florida is a prime example that shows us that no amount of community policing could have stopped this from occurring.
People want police officers to come out from their cars and interact with them and their kids and the community so to speak but how can they when they are targeted like the two deputies in Florida. Why would officers want to leave their patrol car knowing once they step outside of the car their level of safety diminishes drastically. The two deputies in Florida were simply eating, taking a break from the chaos of the job like they are allowed to do. I hate when people talk crap about officers not doing their job when they see them ‘sitting and eating’ or ‘talking to another cop’ or ‘on the side of the road on their phone.’ I’m sorry, do you not get a lunch break, better yet, smoke break? Do you not talk to your coworkers? Have you never answered a call during the workday? Sorry, but no amount of community policing would have stopped this.
Do you want to know what changed? Society. Society changed in that became more unsafe for every citizen out there. People do not want a military style police force but their actions say otherwise and put police in no other position than to act in military ways. I will even put in my political bias that although Trump has his MANY flaws, I would much rather stand behind a president that supports our law enforcement officers than a president than one that made them a target in the first place by encouraging the Black Lives Matter movement and half-heartedly and reluctantly repeated speeches written for him in response to dead officers (catch my drift?).
I am not against community policing. I see the benefits of it but how can an officer reach out to a community that does not accept him? According to a 2014 study on the before and after an introduction of community policing strategies published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology showed that although community policing was shown to have a positive effect none of the findings and measures were statistically significant. The scholars found their findings, “Although our analysis suggests that COP is associated with between 5% and 10% greater odds of a decrease in crime, it is plausible under the confidence intervals that COP has no effect on crime. We also find no evidence that community policing decreases citizens’ fear of crime, despite positive outcomes for other citizen perceptions. (Journalist Resource)”
Community policing will never be the full and complete solution and it will always take more than an officer being integrated into the community to completely change the view. People can argue that it is the small things that could change an individual but when we think of the broader picture in the aspect of deterring crime, community policing is practically irrelevant and time and resources can be spent in other areas in the department that will have an effective outcome.
In every tightly knit group, there lies loyalty and a sense of protection for one another. In police departments, this happens to have a name called The Blue Wall of Silence or also known as the Code of Silence. This blue wall of silence is an unknown code among police departments in which police officers lie or “look the other way” to protect other police officers. My question on this subject is: has the police culture become too hostile towards one another when one of their own breaks the code of silence and has this code of silence enabled unethical behaviors within the department.
It seems that police officers want to see what is “right” happen on the streets but within their own circle doing “right” means being called a rat, losing support from their coworkers, possible ending of their career, intimidations and threats. Some are noticing that this code of silence is enabling police corruption and police brutality on the streets because of other officers not reporting misconducts of their colleagues (Truth-out).
The National Institute of Ethics conducted a research on the code of silence where almost four thousand officers and academy recruits were asked to participate. Among 1,016 academy recruits, 79% acknowledged that the Code of Silence exists throughout the nation and a little more than half said the code of silence does not bother them. Among 2,657 current officers, 46% said they had witnessed misconduct and did not report it. The top five reasons among these officers for not reporting were: being ostracized; the officer committing the misconduct would be disciplined or fired; the officer reporting the misconduct would be disciplined or fired; the officer reporting would be “blackballed”; administration would not do anything if the officer had reported the misconduct. In response, these officers also gave five solutions for the code of silence being: conducting better ethics training; increasing consistent accountability; ensuring and encouraging open communication between officers and leaders; providing an anonymous reporting system; protection for the officers who do report incidents. It was also shown that the code of silence is most used when excessive use of force was in question (aele).
I think the code of silence has hurt officers more than protecting them. The consequences of not speaking up have become too great especially when innocent lives are at stake. I believe loyalty should still remain within the police culture but values such as honesty, justice for one another, and even forgiveness should play more of a focus among departments. Police create more scrutiny for themselves when they do not speak up against bad cops and let them continue practicing unethical corrupt behaviors on the street. We have reached an era where the bad cops are having the loudest voice and greatest influence which has resulted in the main reflection of their department. Police officers who do not speak up are just as responsible and play right into aiding police corruption.
I think this wall of silence needs to be taken down and rebuilt with more ethical values. To even begin to break this down I think this starts with top police officials, prosecutors, and judges who tolerated this kind of behavior. I also believe the code of silence is a generational thing, where you have these old school cops who cannot even imagine reporting on a fellow police officer teaching young academy recruits. I think as these older cops retire and the new generation takes over (particularly millennials) they will be quicker to speak up against misconduct and the blue wall of silence will be less of a factor.