Community policing is a model of policing that is different from traditional models of policing that focus on the crime functions of law enforcement. Community policing involves the community and police working together on common community issues or problems. Consequently, a closely related model of policing is problem-oriented policing. Some literature may also use the term “community-oriented policing.” The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office of the US Department of Justice defines community policing as “a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime” (Community Oriented Policing Services Office 2014, cited under Modern Perspectives, p. 1). Some scholars have suggested that as a result of the varied terms and definitions used to describe community policing, the result has been difficulty with implementing and evaluating community-policing initiatives. Indeed, numerous additional obstacles to implementing community-policing initiatives exist, such as the law enforcement organizational bureaucracy, police officers’ attitudes toward community policing, community residents’ attitudes toward the community policing, and funding to support such initiatives. The implementation of community policing in US law enforcement agencies is so important that each year millions of dollars are awarded to law enforcement agencies to assist with the implementation of community-policing initiatives. The areas of community partnerships and problem solving are most likely to involve social work. Given that the formation of community partnerships and the use of problem-solving techniques by law enforcement agencies are more likely to involve the social work profession than organizational strategies, and because minimal literature is available to guide the profession in the areas of community policing in which social workers are involved, this article primarily focuses on partnerships and problem solving. Social workers can participate in problem solving with law enforcement by using their knowledge of social problems, human behavior, and community resources. Moreover, social workers, particularly those engaged in community-organizing activities, are likely to encounter law enforcement agencies involved in community-policing initiatives. As a method of social work practice, community organizing provides social workers with unique skills that can be used specific to community policing. However, community-policing efforts do not utilize the social work profession and partnerships with social-service agencies enough, at least on the basis of published reports. Certainly, minimal published information is available that can be used to guide such efforts. Consequently, it is important for social workers to understand how community policing is defined, its history, barriers to implementation, and exemplary models of community policing. In order for social workers to collaborate with law enforcement agencies on community-policing initiatives or police social work (see George Patterson’s Oxford Bibliographies article “Police Social Work”), they require knowledge of community-policing concepts and its functions, and the roles of law enforcement and community residents in these initiatives. The citations in this article will aid social workers in understanding the nature of community-policing initiatives and the available evidence supporting community-policing initiatives. More partnerships between social work and law enforcement are needed to address community problems. This article provides examples of initiatives that can be used to guide social work efforts. Taken together, this information can serve as a reference for social workers interested in developing and implementing community-policing initiatives with law enforcement agencies. The author thanks Alexander King for assistance with the search strategy and retrieving citations.
Although different definitions have been used to define community policing, perhaps what distinguishes community policing from other models of policing (such as zero-tolerance policing) is the involvement of community residents. Community residents and community agencies are viewed as a central component of community policing. Some scholars suggest that improved police-community relations are a “byproduct” of community policing and not the actual intended goal (e.g., Trojanowicz and Carter 1988, cited under Books). Nonetheless, community residents are affected by community-policing initiatives due to their close involvement. Community-policing initiatives are not unique to the United States or to specific law enforcement agencies; they exist in some form in numerous countries, although the approaches vary. These introductory works, which are essential for understanding community policing, are international in scope and include scholarship written by experts in community policing. Greene and Mastrofski 1988 examines community policing with an international focus and explores whether community policing has been effective in achieving its intended aims. Hall 1990 examines questions that explore the goals of community policing, why it has become popular, definitions, different forms, and unresolved issues in community policing. Oliver 2000 presents a collection of readings written by community-policing experts that address all aspects of community policing, including its historical development. Similarly, Reisig and Kane 2014 is a handbook that contains scholarly work written by experts in community policing, and it covers a range of topics such as comparing and contrasting community policing with other policing models. Skogan 2004 uses data to describe trends in community policing, Skolnick and Bayley 1988 examines community-policing initiatives that have been implemented in numerous countries, and Trojanowicz and Bucqueroux 1990 provides an excellent historical overview of community policing and addresses several late-20th-century community groups that are likely to be the focus of community-policing initiatives. Although outdated, Trojanowicz and Dixon 1974 provides a groundbreaking discussion concerning the need for community policing, in an essential work focused on police-community relations with a variety of community groups.
Eck, John E., and William Spelman. 1987. Who ya gonna call? The police as problem-busters. Crime & Delinquency 33.1: 31–52.
This article is an excellent historical overview and summary describing the implementation of problem-oriented policing in two law enforcement organizations. Problem-oriented policing is presented as an alternative both to community policing and crime control policing.
Goldstein, Herman. 1987. Toward community-oriented policing: Potential, basic requirements, and threshold questions. Crime & Delinquency 33.1: 6–30.
This important article describes the early beginnings of problem-oriented policing. Goldstein is a pioneer in problem-oriented policing and suggests that officers should view their work as resolving problems rather than incidents.
Greene, Jack R., and Stephen D. Mastrofski, eds. 1988. Community policing: Rhetoric or reality. New York: Praeger.
This important book provides a comprehensive overview of community policing in Canada, England, Wales, and the US cities of Baltimore, Houston, and New York City. Emphasis is placed on whether community policing is an effective policing model. Valuable information is provided for determining how community-policing effectiveness can be assessed.
Hall, Donna L. 1990. Community policing: An overview of the literature. Public Policy Report 1.1. Albany: New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
This is an important resource for social workers needing a brief overview of community policing. This public-policy report provides an excellent, concise overview defining community policing, its forms, and its goals, as well as discussing why it is popular, evidence describing effectiveness, and initiatives to address drug problems.
Oliver, Willard M., ed. 2000. Community policing: Classical readings. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
This essential book contains classical readings that cover seminal topics in community policing, such as “broken windows” and problem-solving policing. Works by key scholars in community policing, such as Herman Goldstein, John Eck, and Stephen Mastrofski, are represented among these readings.
Reisig, Michael D., and Robert J. Kane, eds. 2014. The Oxford handbook of police and policing. Oxford Handbooks in Criminology and Criminal Justice. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.
A useful overview for understanding race and ethnicity, policing approaches, and police research. This practical reference contains chapters written by experts that identify community policing, problem-oriented policing, order maintenance, zero tolerance, and policing vulnerable populations, allowing readers to compare and contrast the models and to better understand community policing.
Skogan, Wesley G., ed. 2004. Community policing: Can it work. Wadsworth Professionalism in Policing. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth / Thomson Learning.
This book, useful for examining the types of data that provide evidence for community-policing effectiveness, utilizes survey data to describe trends in community policing. Also provides an excellent overview of community policing, with topics such as the relationship between community policing and problem-oriented policing.
Skolnick, Jerome H., and David H. Bayley. 1988. Community policing: Issues and practices around the world. Issues and Practices in Criminal Justice. Washington, DC: ABT.
Community-policing initiatives are examined in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Japan, and Singapore, providing excellent discussion. Enables readers to compare and contrast these varied initiatives as they exist throughout the world.
Trojanowicz, Robert C., and Bonnie Bucqueroux. 1990. Community policing: A contemporary perspective. Cincinnati: Anderson.
This book provides an excellent historical overview of community policing and research on community policing and its effectiveness. Examines community policing in the context of late-20th-century policing as a whole, including topics such as community policing with people of color, gangs, juveniles, homeless individuals, and undocumented immigrants, as well as discussing drug use.
Trojanowicz, Robert C., and Samuel L. Dixon. 1974. Criminal justice and the community. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
This text, although dated and out of print, provides a timeless overview of the need for police relations with diverse community groups. Provides an essential early work for understanding the foundation of community policing, including early references and definitions of community policing and an overview of the functions of community policing.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
- Adolescent Depression
- Adolescent Pregnancy
- Adoption Home Study Assessments
- Adult Protective Services in the United States
- African Americans
- Aging, Physical Health and
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse Problems
- Alcohol and Drug Problems, Prevention of Adolescent and Yo...
- Alcohol Problems: Practice Interventions
- Alcohol Use Disorder
- Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias
- Anti-Oppressive Practice
- Asian Americans
- Asian-American Youth
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Baccalaureate Social Workers
- Behavioral Health
- Behavioral Social Work Practice
- Bereavement Practice
- Brief Therapies in Social Work: Task-Centered Model and So...
- Bullying and Social Work Intervention
- Canadian Social Welfare, History of
- Case Management in Mental Health in the United States
- Child Poverty
- Child Welfare
- Child Welfare and Child Protection in Europe, History of
- Children of Incarcerated Parents
- Christianity and Social Work
- Chronic Illness
- Clinical Social Work Practice with Adult Lesbians
- Clinical Social Work Practice with Males
- Cognitive Behavior Therapies with Diverse and Stressed Pop...
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
- Community Development
- Community Policing
- Community-Based Participatory Research
- Community-Needs Assessment
- Comparative Social Work
- Conflict Resolution
- Council on Social Work Education
- Counseling Female Offenders
- Criminal Justice
- Crisis Interventions
- Cultural Competence and Ethnic Sensitive Practice
- Culture, Ethnicity, Substance Use, and Substance Use Disor...
- Dementia Care, Ethical Aspects of
- Depression and Cancer
- Development and Infancy (Birth to Age Three)
- Direct Practice in Social Work
- Disability and Disability Culture
- Domestic Violence Among Immigrants
- Eating Disorders
- Ecological Framework
- Economic Evaluation
- Elder Mistreatment
- End-of-Life Decisions
- Epigenetics for Social Workers
- Ethics and Values in Social Work
- Evidence-based Social Work Practice
- Evidence-based Social Work Practice: Finding Evidence
- Evidence-based Social Work Practice: Issues, Controversies...
- Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs
- Families with Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Parents
- Family Caregiving
- Family Group Conferencing
- Family Policy
- Family Services
- Family Therapy
- Family Violence
- Fathering Among Families Served By Child Welfare
- Field Education
- Financial Literacy and Social Work
- Financing Health-Care Delivery in the United States
- Forensic Social Work
- Foster Care
- Gay Men
- Generalist Practice and Advanced Generalist Practice
- Group Work
- Group Work across Populations, Challenges, and Settings
- Group Work, Research, Best Practices, and Evidence-based
- Harm Reduction
- Health Care Reform
- Health Disparities
- Health Social Work
- History of Social Work and Social Welfare, 1900–1950
- History of Social Work and Social Welfare, 1950-1980
- History of Social Work and Social Welfare, pre-1900
- History of Social Work from 1980-2014
- History of Social Work in China
- History of Social Work in Northern Ireland
- History of Social Work in the Republic of Ireland
- History of Social Work in the United Kingdom
- HIV/AIDS Prevention with Adolescents
- Homelessness Outside the United States
- Human Needs
- Human Trafficking, Victims of
- Immigrant Policy in the United States
- Immigrants and Refugees
- Immigrants and Refugees: Evidence-based Social Work Practi...
- Impaired Professionals
- Implementation Science and Practice
- Indigenous Peoples
- Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Supported Employmen...
- International Social Welfare
- International Social Work
- International Social Work and Education
- International Social Work and Social Welfare in Southern A...
- Internet and Video Game Addiction
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy
- Intervention with Traumatized Populations
- Intimate-Partner Violence
- Juvenile Justice
- Korean Americans
- Latinos and Latinas
- Law, Social Work and the
- LGBTQ Populations and Social Work
- Life Span
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Management and Administration in Social Work
- Maternal Mental Health
- Measurement, Scales, and Indices
- Medical Illness
- Men: Health and Mental Health Care
- Mental Health
- Mental Health Diagnosis and the Addictive Substance Disord...
- Mental Health Needs of Older People, Assessing the
- Mental Illness: Children
- Mental Illness: Elders
- Middle East and North Africa, International Social Work an...
- Military Social Work
- Mixed Methods Research
- Motivational Interviewing
- Native Americans
- Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders
- Neighborhood Social Cohesion
- Neuroscience and Social Work
- Nicotine Dependence
- Occupational Social Work
- Organizational Development and Change
- Pain Management
- Palliative Care
- Palliative Care: Evolution and Scope of Practice
- Parent Training
- Philosophy of Science and Social Work
- Physical Disabilities
- Police Social Work
- Positive Youth Development
- Postmodernism and Social Work
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Practice Interventions and Aging
- Practice Interventions with Adolescents
- Practice Research
- Primary Prevention in the 21st Century
- Productive Engagement of Older Adults
- Profession, Social Work
- Psychiatric Rehabilitation
- Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Theory
- Psychopathology and Social Work Practice
- Psychopharmacology and Social Work Practice
- Psychosocial Framework
- Psychosocial Intervention with Women
- Psychotherapy and Social Work
- Qualitative Research
- Race and Racism
- Readmission Policies in Europe
- Religiously Affiliated Agencies
- Reproductive Health
- Research Ethics
- Restorative Justice
- Risk Assessment in Child Protection Services
- Risk Management in Social Work
- Rural Social Work Practice
- School Social Work
- School Violence
- School-Based Delinquency Prevention
- Services and Programs for Pregnant and Parenting Youth
- Severe and Persistent Mental Illness: Adults
- Sexual Assault
- Single-System Research Designs
- Social Development
- Social Insurance and Social Justice
- Social Intervention Research
- Social Justice and Social Work
- Social Movements
- Social Planning
- Social Policy
- Social Security in the United States (OASDHI)
- Social Work Education and Research
- Social Work Regulation
- Social Work Research Methods
- Solution-Focused Therapy
- Strategic Planning
- Strengths Perspective
- Strengths-Based Models in Social Work
- Supplemental Security Income
- Survey Research
- Syrian Refugees in Turkey
- Systematic Review Methods
- Task-Centered Practice
- Technology Adoption in Social Work Education
- Technology for Social Work Interventions
- Technology, Human Relationships, and Human Interaction
- Technology in Social Work
- Terminal Illness
- Transdisciplinary Science
- Translational Science and Social Work
- United States, History of Social Welfare in the
- Veteran Services
- Victim Services
- Welfare State Reform in France
- Welfare State Theory
- Women and Macro Social Work Practice
- Women's Health Care
- Work and Family in the German Welfare State
- Working with Non-Voluntary and Mandated Clients
- Young and Adolescent Lesbians
- Youth at Risk
- Youth Services