Community Engagement Called Critical to 21st Century Policing

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Photo by Yannick Gringras via Flickr

As police department across the country take a hard look at policing, especially the way it has disadvantaged African Americans, “proactive” crime-fighting strategies combined with greater community engagement are shaping up as critical elements of U.S. police reform, write two scholars in a recent commentary for The Hill.

Citing a 2018 report from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, David Weisburd and Greg Berman argue the nation needs a “blueprint” for policing in the 21st century that responds to community needs while restoring police legitimacy.

Weisburd, distinguished professor at George Mason University and a former chair of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Proactive Policing, and Berman, director of the Center for Court Innovation, argue that effective crime-fighting strategies, such as hot-spot policing and focused deterrence, must be paired with community engagement that treats the public,”including suspects and arrestees, with dignity and respect and an absence of bias.”

“Police departments should seek to limit their intrusion into the daily life of residents as much as possible,” the authors wrote. “Police departments should be surgical in their approach, narrowly targeting proactive strategies to small groups of chronic offenders and specific street corners that are magnets for crime, rather than blanketing whole precincts or neighborhoods with a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Weisburd was co-author of a study published last year in Criminology & Public Policy, which reported on a six-month Seattle pilot project applying procedural justice principles to police training. According to the study, officers who went through the training were involved in fewer use-of-force incidents, and made fewer arrests than their peers.

Additional Reading:

States Emerge as Critical Players in Police Reforms

Art, Science and the Challenge of Justice Reform (Greg Berman and Julian Adler, TCR)

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