A Dallas break up of community policing units to put those officers back on the streets has created a stir among crime watch groups and homeowners’ associations, says the Dallas Morning News. The groups are worried about losing officers they’ve developed relationships with over the years, or that those officers will be so busy answering 911 calls that they won’t be able to take care of broader community concerns. Community policing became a popular law enforcement philosophy in the 1980s and 90s, but in some departments, the units appeared to become more about making people feel better than really solving problems. Dallas and other cities are wrestling with how to change that.
Dallas is sending almost 60 officers assigned to specialized squads back to regular patrol. Police have been meeting with neighborhood groups, explaining that their intention is to put more cops on the streets and get those officers to cross-pollinate with other patrol officers. The officers who had been performing community policing from the specialized units will still largely be doing community policing and will now be called Neighborhood Police officers. The department is moving toward more beat policing, where officers focus on doing most of their work in a smaller geographic area. “If you do this right, you’re going to have less crime and less disorder,” said Drew Diamond, a community policing expert and former police chief of Tulsa, Ok. “You’re going to have more people who are comfortable and less fearful.”