History of Community Policing

The movement toward community oriented policing has gained momentum in recent years as police and community leaders search for more effective ways to promote public safety as well as enhance the quality of life in neighborhoods.  The roots of community oriented policing come from the history of policing itself and draw on many of the lessons taught by that history. Modern law enforcement began in England with the formation of the London Metropolitan Police District in 1829 by Sir Robert Peel. The new police force was created to address the soaring crime rates in Great Britain’s capital. Peel, the first chief of the police force, is credited with developing several innovations that are still practiced today.

The 1960s police-citizen crisis, and subsequent research questioned the core philosophies underlying policing in America. Wilson and Kelling proposed the broken windows thesis postulating that a broken window in an abandoned building symbolized that no one cares about the property, making it ripe for criminal activity. They stressed the importance of controlling minor crimes and disorders in an effort to curb more serious crime. Making residents feel safer and improving their quality of life should be the goal of police. This idea sparked the development of a number of different police strategies and tactics designed to improve police-community relations. The philosophy of community oriented policing is built upon the premise that reducing citizens' fear of crime while forming a partnership between the police and the community is a worthwhile goal of police organizations.