Community Policing

What are other cities doing as it relates to Community Oriented Policing? What are some new innovative ways that cities are building ties and working closely with members of the communities (residents, businesses, leaders, etc)?


Request:  What are other cities doing as it relates to Community Oriented Policing? What are some new innovative ways that cities are building ties and working closely with members of the communities (residents, businesses, leaders, etc)?

Background: Community based policing is a hot topic in local government and cities are looking for innovative ways to connect officers with the communities that they assist. 


Brooklyn, NY 


Department Remodeling 


The Department adopted and utilized the Sector Team Policing Model, dividing the city into 5 sectors and assigning a patrol sergeant to be responsible to the residents and community members in their assigned sector and to assist them in identifying and resolving concerns in that area. Annual sector team meetings are held so that citizens may become familiar with issues in their specific neighborhoods and come up with ideas and solutions for these issues. One of three Police Commanders within the department assumes the role of the Commander of the Community Services Division which oversees the Community Liaison Coordinator and their operations within the department. The Community Liaison Coordinator works with Patrol officers throughout the department that are assigned specific rental properties, apartments, and places of business throughout the city. Every major business and rental unit has a liaison Officer assigned. These Officers build rapport and relationships with managers, business owners, and landlords to help facilitate a safe place to work and live. 

Officer Cadet Program 


One of the strongest programs that the Department uses as a community outreach tool is the Officer Cadet Program. This program is available to minorities within the community who have an interest or desire to become a Police Officer within the community. This program allows citizens within the city and educational opportunity where they will participate in an internship within the Police Department. They will also be able to attend college while working at the Department. This not only provides a multi-cultural member of the community a great educational opportunity, it also promotes the recruitment of new Police Officers who are from different cultural branches within the community. It also brings in Officers who speak multiple languages who can assist with language barriers that arise on a daily basis.


New York, NY

Police department used social media to interact with the public and reduce crime in 2014, new leadership for the City and the Department arrived. Their surveys showed that while many New Yorkers continued to support the NYPD, and believed its success was crucial for New York, others had lost trust and confidence in police. It was crucial for the NYPD to restore trust – so that citizens would report crime, being willing to testify at trials, and offer street intelligence to officers who needed to know what was really going on on the streets of New York, all to keep citizens safe. To address this, the Department began significant reforms in training and deployment. It overhauled its recruiting practices. And it made its move into the digital age, authorizing and training its commanders to open Twitter and other social media accounts, all for the purpose of engaging the public, taking effective action, and restoring trust. Among its most significant initiatives, the NYPD augmented its social media accounts with IdeaScale. IdeaScale was ideally suited to a new patrol initiative which, like Google’s “20% Time” policy, gave officers a certain amount of “uncommitted” time to work on neighborhood problems.


Beginning in April 2015, the NYPD deployed IdeaScale in six model precincts, where it invited communiCes to tell the NYPD what quality of life problems the NYPD should work on first. In other words, the NYPD crowd-sourced the quality of life agenda based on citizen priorities for action.The program has met with early success. Over 4,000 participants have registered. NYPD has received and addressed approximately 300 acConable quality of life issues, from gangs to graffiti, noise and traffic. Working with IdeaScale, NYPD has customized the communities to create a workload tracking form that lets commanders see the “jobs” that have come in, who has been assigned, and what the status is.

This was a historic first – and has proved successful in defining the police agenda for acCon in these model precincts. A great advantage to IdeaScale is that, unlike social media, participation can be restricted to those who live in a particular command; and posts that are untoward or unactionable need not be posted. Used in conjunction with social media platforms like Twitter, successes can become well-known fast and encourage even more use.



Mobile Walking Beat (MWB) and The Restore Rundberg Project


In response to the citizen’s request for increased positive police interaction during the analysis phase officers created the MWB. The MWB differed from conventional walking beats by not focusing on strict enforcement. The goal of each walking beat officer was to have as many public contacts as possible. The officers moved from hotspot to hotspot to give the illusion that there were many more officers patrolling the streets than there were. Each hotspot was broken up into 4 quadrants, each 2 man team was responsible for a quadrant. The MWB focused on community engagement utilizing innovative IPAD surveys to help identify community concerns, reduce language barriers and help improve perceptions. The MWB has made over 16,000 contacts in the area. 67% of contacts were Hispanic matching the demographic in the area thus bridging the gap between traditional police community meetings that showed little multicultural interaction and these MWB mini meetings. Officers learned what the true concerns of the community were and were able to educate the community on ways to make their community safer.


At the beginning of the Restore Rundberg Project, the neighborhood of Rundberg was statistically the largest crime hot spot of Austin. According to 2012 crime statistics, the 5.74 square-mile district accounted for about 5% of total residents but about 12.58% of all violent crime. The original three hotspots accounted for 21% of all crime within the Rundberg area in 2012. A stated goal at the start of the project was to reduce the relative percentage of violent crime within the grant area by 1%. During the 15 months of MWB, the targeted hot spots City of Austin Police Department Restore Rundberg Project May 25, 2016 15 (collectively) experienced a reduction of violent and property crime of 15% and 11%, respectively including a 44% reduction in violent crime in Hot Spot 2, as compared to the 15 months prior to the intervention. The entire Rundberg area experienced a reduction in reported incidents, providing evidence of diffusion of crime, with a reduction in violent crime for the entire grant area of 4.52% and a reduction in property crime of 7% (see Appendix B slide 35-36). The violent crime reduction experienced in the grant area alone, accounted for a 1.27% reduction in the City of Austin’s violent crime rate; this is significant, as the City’s goal for 2014 was a 1% reduction in violent crime. Moreover, there were no violent crimes reported during the days and hours that the MWB officers were operating in the designated Hot Spots.


San Francisco, CA


Strategic Plan for community policing and engagement 


the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) requested assistance from the Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) to address significant community concerns about the status of policing in San Francisco. In 2016, the COPS Office issued a report outlining 94 findings and 272 associated recommendations for the SFPD across five categories: use of force, bias, community policing, accountability, recruitment and hiring, and personnel practices.The COPS Office definition of community policing is “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.”

However, the COPS Office’s assessment notes that these community policing activities lacked a unifying strategy and identified the need for a “comprehensive, strategic community policing plan” that would align community policing policies and procedures across the department. Specifically, Recommendation 40.1 dictates that “the SFPD should develop a strategic community policing plan that identifies goals, objectives, and measurable outcomes for all units.” Such a guiding document can enable the department to ensure that work across the organization supports the philosophy of community policing, as it continues to evolve to meet today’s law enforcement needs.


Participation in the working group was open to any member of the public who wished to join. However, recommendations for specific community members to invite were solicited from district supervisors and captains of district stations. Over the course of 10 months from summer 2017 through spring 2018, the working group met 15 times to review research, analyze results, and aggregate input from a range of sources into a guiding document for the department. While nearly 100 people were invited to each meeting, there were generally 20–30 community members, organizational representatives, and SFPD members of all ranks in attendance.The working group next spent several weeks researching community policing best practices from departments around the United States, as well as from agencies in several other countries. Working group members developed a list of jurisdictions of interest and researched how those law enforcement agencies have incorporated community policing philosophies into their work. Synthesizing the findings from nearly 40 sources revealed trends ranging from common guiding values to specific strategies that have shown promising results. One significant finding was that although there is widespread agreement that current policing metrics are inadequate to measure community policing’s impact, developing effective alternatives is very difficult.It was critical to incorporate feedback from the San Francisco and SFPD communities beyond the working group. A qualitative survey regarding attitudes about and visions for community policing was sent to over 500 representatives of local nonprofits, neighborhood groups, and business associations across the city, chosen by the working group members. Also included in the survey recipients were members of all Community Police Advisory Boards (CPABs) and Chief’s Advisory Forums.


Responses were received from nearly 200 individuals representing 140 different organizations, every Community Police Advisory Board (CPAB), and 50 self-identified neighborhoods. In addition, 66 responses were received from the SFPD member survey. Every response was manually reviewed and coded to enable analysis of significant themes and recommendations. While the survey was not designed as a scientific review of city-wide opinion, it revealed invaluable feedback from organizations across the city about how law enforcement can adapt to work more closely with local communities.


The working group took the findings from these three sources: initial assessment, best practices, and the community and SFPD surveys, and synthesized them into a vision and values statement, five goals, and 21 objectives to guide the department’s community policing activities moving forward. The goals and objectives are designed to be specific and measurable, so that the department and community can both gauge whether they are met.


The Strategic Plan was designed to give bureaus and district stations guidelines to direct their work, while retaining enough flexibility to focus on issues that are particularly relevant to their neighborhoods. This allows community members to take an active role in building a vibrant community that they feel ownership in. As the department moves forward into a new era of policing, this plan will shape how policy is made, officers are trained, and SFPD members interact with their communities.

Those interested in exploring any part of the process or using the outcomes to inform their own community policing work should reach out to the SFPD Community Engagement Division at


Community Policing Beyond the Big Cities



California ■ Eureka Police Department ■ Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office ■Shasta County Sheriff’s Office ■ Redding Police Department 

Idaho ■ Pocatello Police Department ■ Bannock County Sheriff’s Office 

South Dakota  ■Pennington County Sheriff’s  ■ Rapid City Police Department



 The police chief or sheriff must be fully committed to community policing and drive its implementation, or it will not take hold, let alone advance. 


Departments that reached the higher stages of community policing were also supported by local elected officials that were committed to its success. 


The study found that strong “topdown” leadership commitment not only legitimizes community policing in the eyes of line officers, but also fosters innovation that breaks through entrenched local problems. 



Step 1: Establishing a special unit, neighborhood center, or other community policing initiative. Community policing is handled as special assignments, not part of regular patrol. Departmental priority remains rapid response to citizen requests. 

Step 2: Getting the community more involved. Outreach and targeted response to reduce high rates of particular crimes in particular neighborhoods are departmental priorities. 

Step 3: Solving problems through coordination and cooperation. Officers collaborate with residents on short-term projects to address specific local concerns. Problem-solving initiatives are given priority. 

Step 4: Broadening collaboration to prevent crime and delinquency. Cross-agency/ communitywide coalition plans of action include police. High priority is placed on collaboration through long-term programs. 

Step 5: Institutionalizing community policing in city and county strategic planning. Community policing activities are practiced throughout the department. Priority is given to sustained, community-based approaches


Practical implementation


  • In an area where youth skateboarding on sidewalks and streets was a problem, officers led the community in transforming a vacant lot into a skateboard park. Results were not only increased safety, but also improved relations between the police and the community. 


  • One county sheriff’s office cooperated with police and the courts to create the position of Juvenile Court Deputy. This deputy serves on a daily basis as liaison with the court, police, schools, and juvenile probation. Results were improved communications and coordination between agencies and police and improved services for youths. 


  • Officers were required to live in or near the town and work directly with residents to solve local problems.


  • One jurisdiction held crossagency weekly meetings to review incidents of delinquency and the status of students involved. Results were a reduction in school expulsions by more than half and a more than fivefold reduction in expulsions for assaults


Open Data

Northampton, Massachusetts

Like other smaller law enforcement agencies, the Northampton Police Department outsources its technology support and would seem to be an unlikely place for innovation around police open data. Chief Jody Kasper used her technological constraints to her advantage, starting with people first, and letting the tech and data follow. She wanted to create an open a 


Chief Kasper sees transparency as a way to highlight the department’s high professional standards and progressive practices. She and her colleagues view the process of opening data as a means of building trust and legitimacy by "pulling back that blue curtain" and enabling open and free access to information on police activities. Before releasing the data, she convened an Open Data Team made up of law enforcement officials, private citizens and members of the city government. Among the team members are Chief Kasper herself, a website designer, a journalist, a NPD community liaison officer, a city councilor, and others.


NPD has released 14 different data sets on a wide variety of topics ranging from major crime counts to descriptions of the community outreach activities being undertaken by NPD officers. In choosing what data to release, Chief Kasper felt it was far more important to release high quality data rather than providing high quantities of low quality data to the public. Chief Kasper and the Open Data Team also worked to ensure that the datasets chosen highlighted the positive efforts of the agency that are typically not the focus of media attention. Specifically, the NPD site hosts data on its community engagement efforts and the nature and extent of officer training. The training data reveals the NPD’s top training category of implicit bias and race relations and other topics that demonstrate how NPD is shifting training priorities to meet important needs and topics.


NPD's Open Data Portal can be accessed directly from the department's website and provides simple links to each of the available datasets as well as bios for each member of the Open Data Team. The department also provides a paragraph of context for each data set. This enables public viewers to better understand where the data is coming from and often the degree of review the data has received by the Open Data Team.


The end result is a unique and helpful product for the citizens of Northampton to better understand the types of crimes in their area and how the police department is performing.  In summary, Chief Kasper and the Northampton Police Department have demonstrated that it's possible for any agency, despite size and available resources, to leverage open data to not only demonstrate transparency, but to engage the community using facts supported by open data.


The Resident Officer Program of Elgin (ROPE)



The Resident Officer Program of Elgin (ROPE), implemented in 1991, is an example of old-fashioned community policing with newfound relevance. Police in Elgin believe they have learned some important truths. One is that the problems neighborhoods want to solve are sometimes different from the problems police focus on. Another is that helping a neighborhood address what it sees as its most pressing problems may be the best way to reduce serious crime and restore confidence in policing.


The city would buy and restore houses in pivotal neighborhoods and then offer them to officers rent free. Officers would have unusual freedom to set their schedules and focus on problem-solving. At first, many officers were skeptical of the program and dismissive of the work. But that skepticism has diminished. Not only has the crime rate stabilized, but, for the officers themselves, there grew a conviction that the work they were doing was essential to combating violent crime.


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