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Community Policing

In 1996 the Colonie Police Department began to implement a Community Policing philosophy. This philosophy is meant to increase the contact between the police and the residents and business people in Colonie.

Community Policing Defined

Community policing is a philosophy and an organizational strategy that promotes a partnership between people and their police. It is based on the premise that both the police and the community must work together to identify, prioritize, and solve contemporary community problems such as crime, drugs, fear of crime, social and physical disorder, and overall neighborhood decay with the goal of improving the overall quality of life in the area.

Police work has evolved over the years to be highly technical with better crime reporting systems, notebook computers in police vehicles, and better evidence collection techniques. It seems that some of the focus of what the "beat cop" did 50 years ago was lost in the technological advances of the 1980s and 1990s. "Traditional policing" is re-evolving into Community Policing. The following chart explains some of the differences between the two:

Traditional Police Agency Community Oriented Problem Solving Agency
Efficiency is the focus of the agency Agency concerned with effectiveness
Handling incidents is the focus of police work Problems are the focus. Calls are no longer treated as isolated, unique events
Handling calls is the priority Manage calls to free up time to focus on community problems
Calls handled quickly to get officers back in service for the next call or "preventive patrol" Officers conduct deeper inquiries looking at root causes of problems and repeat calls
"We know what the problems are."  Agency is multi-dimensional 
Police infrequently consult with citizens to determine real problems of issues  Officers seek input from all available sources 
Priority is placed on quick, immediate solutions Priority is placed on effective, well thought out solutions 
Criminal law used as the primary solution  A wide range of solutions come from a variety of sources. Solutions may include education, environmental solutions, various laws and outside agencies 

Part of the evolution back to Community Policing was the realization that a shift in focus was needed. No one knows the problems in a neighborhood better than a resident of that neighborhood. Additionally, tremendous resources were being used with less-than-expected results. One study showed that:

10% of victims are victims in 42% of crime

10%of offenders commit 55% of crime

10% of locations are involved in 60% of calls

These simple figures revealed that a huge impact could be made on crime and other disturbances by focusing on known problems and locations. A subset of Community Policing is called Problem Oriented Policing or "POP." The Colonie Police Department creates "POP Details" in areas where we know there are problems or where we believe they will start. Officers will be assigned to the area to work with neighbors in eliminating the problem.

The most important part of Community Policing is reflected in the last sentence of the paragraph above: "..work with neighbors in eliminating the problem." Not only will neighbors be able to identify the problem, neighbors often have the best solution as well. And, while police cannot be present in one location 24 hours a day, neighbors are. A cooperative effort between the police and citizens will be many more times as effective as a plan implemented by the police alone!

The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

Sir Robert Peel, 1829

Progress TowardCommunity Policing To Date:

Specialized enforcement programs including: