By Officer Luis P. Benavides
Movies, media commentators and television shows display fictional police images. It is easy to see why most people believe that the primary police role is strict law enforcement. The traditional policing style does not give a clear image of real police work. In reality, police work is order and peacekeeping. This is achieved through a policing style called community policing. The basic elements of community policing are the philosophy, the partnership between the police and the community, and the proactive solutions to problems.
The philosophy of community policing establishes that the police and the community in partnership fight crime together by identifying community problems. Therefore, problem-oriented solutions are applied in conjunction with the community. For example, Officer Benavides proactively patrols local businesses located on San Ysidro Boulevard. At the same time, business owners of this location know Officer Benavides, and Officer Benavides knows the business owners. Officer Benavides and the business owners can prevent crime before it happens by means of partnership interactions.
Next, the partnership between the police and the community implies a new contract between the police and the citizens we serve. The partnership is based on mutual respect and trust. Officers work with the public and the public works with officers. For example, Officer Benavides uses the community policing partnership to allow the police department and citizens to work closely together in new ways to solve the cause problems of crime such as illicit drugs and physical and social disorder. Perhaps the partnership clears up many myths and realities, both from the police and citizens.
Proactive solution empowers citizens to better conduct themselves. Responsible citizens work with police officers to identify community problems and the best way to resolve them. One illustration is a loud party in a normally quiet neighborhood. Officer Benavides encourages neighbors to talk to each other and resolve problems informally so that they do not constantly turn to the police to deal with situations that they can better handle themselves.
Finally, the old traditional police image gave the message that crime was only a police business and non-police professionals should stay out. On the contrary, crime is a social problem that cannot be solved only by a police agency. The collaborations and participations between people and the police, courts and corrections assure mutual social justice. When we successfully combine all the elements of community policing as a philosophy and as a successful policing style both within the police and in the community, we will bring about positive change in our communities and in ourselves.
San Diego Police Officer Benavides has Associates in Science from Northeastern University (Boston, MA 2001) and a Bachelor in Administration of Justice from University of Phoenix (San Diego 2004). He has been a police officer for approximately 4 years. This is his first article to La Prensa Newspaper.