Policing in a Democratic Society
On February 26–27, 2008, the COPS Office and John Jay College of Criminal Justice hosted a roundtable discussion aimed at examining the impact of community policing on communities nationwide. The meeting, convened at Philadelphia’s National Constitutional Center, brought together leading law enforcement practitioners, criminal justice academics and experts, community members, and representatives from the COPS Office to exchange ideas about “Policing in a Democratic Society.”
Held just two blocks from Independence Hall, the site of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, the roundtable promoted open dialog about the relationship among community policing, constitutional principles, and effective and fair policing.
A 2003 study found that 4 percent of police departments, which employ 73 percent of all officers, wrote mission statements that included elements of community policing (Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice. Local Police Departments, 2003. Matthew J. Hickman and Brian A. Reaves. Washington, D.D.: U.S. Government Printing Office, May 2006, iii.) Because it fosters mutual trust and respect between police and the public, community policing should be the operational force guiding agencies in a democratic society.
The roundtable discussion identified some core principles that guide fair and democratic policing.
- Engaging the community to create and maintain trust relationships.
- Maintaining rights to privacy while protecting national security.
- Taking diversity into account when devising policing strategies. Diversity includes not only racial and ethnic considerations, but also concerns the homeless, released offenders, youth, and immigrant populations.
- Making the commitment to police integrity and combating racially biased policing.
- Building successful working relationships between law enforcement and the media.
- Encouraging openness and policing innovations through technological and other strategic advances.
For more information about the COPS Office, visit www.cops.usdoj.gov.