Community Based Policing
"Moving from Watching to Watching Over"
One of the challenges for Police Services Boards in Ontario is the establishment and
evaluation of a community based policing governance policy.
Some factors need consideration...
First, the perception that community based policing with increased policing
exposure and emphasis on crime prevention will ultimately decrease the crime rate.
This has always been a question between those who believe that police should work in
isolation of the general public and those who believe that police should be more visible
and be proactive.
From a conversation with Chief David Klenavic of the Belleville Ontario Police Services -
he said that the crime rate in Belleville is definitely decreasing and one of the
contributing factors is the community based policing initiatives of the Belleville Police
Services and their voluntary community policing committee.
Second, because of the extended recession and government deficits, it is
politically insensitive to suggest increased taxes while providing fewer services. This is
a dilemma facing all levels of government.
It should be noted that many of the police services in Eastern Ontario have labour
contents approaching 90 % of the police budget.
Using the rationale that higher police public exposure as suggested by the community
policing concept could mean an even higher labour content. It is difficult to rationalize
this type of policy in today's economic and political climate.
Third, one of the traditional roles of police personnel is watching. Watching
provides the need for policing activities which includes crime prevention and law
enforcement. Traditionally, police personnel observe and make judgment on whether or not
to take appropriate action.
The concept of community based policing requires community input. In effect the communicty
provides more eyes on the street to provide that intelligence.
Surprisingly, the perceived oxymoron "community policing" solves both the
economic as well as the political problems.
To really achieve a community policed municipal service the requirement is a paradigm
shift of the traditional operation of present policing services -- that Is to slowly
change the role of police officers from 'watching to watching over' the public.
Watching over requires that policing services extend their vision utilizing community
resources to provide needed intelligence. To do this policing services have to take on a
community leadership and an involvement role to obtain and increase public trust, which is
not their traditional role.
Moving from Watching to Watching over, is a fundamental shift in the way in which policing
will be carried out in this province in the future.
Frankly, under today's fiscal restraints and the need for increased service there doesn't
seem to be any other viable alternative.
tdc Marketing and Management Consultation
Brockville Ontario Canada
voice: 613 342-0639