In light of social unrest in both Canada and the United States, Community Oriented Policing Services have been used to great success in Canada to foster goodwill between citizens and their local police departments. In many cases in which there was mistrust of police officers, the police sought to communicate to the community in effective ways that strengthened the trust between law enforcement and the people they served. The COPS program looks at finding new ways to communicate to members of the community, which creates new, proactive solutions that enable community members to help police and improve their communities.
Community Oriented Policing Services is about establishing a partnership between communities and law enforcement. Whether it is dealing with immigrants who are mistrustful of police or having coffee with police officers, police are working hard together with their communities to reduce crime and to improve communications.
What is community-oriented policing?
Did you know the goal of community-oriented policing is to establish a partnership between law enforcement and communities?
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Toronto Police Service Newcomer Outreach Program
Toronto police have developed an outreach program for new immigrants so that those who live in Canada learn about Canadian police services. Toronto police have recognized the need for reaching out to the community so that immigrants take advantage of police services. They have created pamphlets direct from the Toronto police and through the library, explaining all the services and how to prevent crime. They offer tips for keeping oneself safe. Furthermore, the Toronto police offer interpreters to those who are victims of crimes, including sexual assaults and domestic violence.
Coffee With a Cop Program
In Toronto and 12 cities of Quebec, including Mirabel, Blainville, Saint-Eustache, St-Jérôme and Deux-Montagnes, Sûreté du Quebec and the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) have joined the wildly successful "Coffee with a Cop" program. The program enables residents to talk with the local law enforcement to discuss their needs and concerns in a setting that fosters discussion and is not intimidating. The first "Coffee with a Cop" programs in Quebec were held May 13, 2014, and have since expanded to other communities within the province.
The program "Coffee with a Cop" was patterned after the American "Coffee with a Cop" programs that started in 2011 and spread across 36 states and 175 cities. The idea isn't just about having coffee, but about creating a positive interaction with the community. Something as simple as having coffee with people makes all the difference.
Block Watch in Vancouver
Block Watch, a community oriented program, was started in 1989 in Vancouver, British Columbia. This Community Oriented Policing Service has successfully empowered community members to help take responsibility for their own safety by watching out for suspicious activity and reporting it to police. Participants of the Block Watch program receive special training from law enforcement and a police officer can do a security assessment of the neighborhood to determine if there are ways to improve the neighborhood's safety. Block Watch has been proven to reduce break-ins by up to 62 percent in some neighborhoods. Having the watchful eyes of neighbors keeping track of possible thieves is one way the police force has promoted community involvement.
Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Service
One surprise people might have if they visit Peterborough Lakefield in Ontario is that the Peterborough Drug Strategy (PDS) coordinator has her own detective desk in the police department, even though she doesn't have a badge. Kerri Kightley, the Peterborough Drug Strategy coordinator, works alongside the criminal investigation unit working to prevent drug abuse. They work together using education, with events such as Drug Awareness Week, Crime Prevention Week and Family Week, to get the community involved in drug prevention and drug overdose prevention.
Police officers will play against the local high school hockey teams to foster goodwill during Drug Awareness Week. This has become a very big event and is extremely popular in the community. It also gets the word out that people need to stay off drugs and to seek help if they have a drug problem. By making the police approachable and giving the PDS coordinator access to the people she needs to help, Peterborough Lakefield is a shining example of success in Community Oriented Policing Services.
Saskatchewan’s Crime-Reduction Initiative
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, had exceedingly high crime rates. The government decided to implement Community Mobilization Prince Albert, called the HUB, and Centre of Responsibility (COR). HUB has 32 agencies that work with the at-risk individuals in the community, and they meet twice weekly to identify these individuals and respond within 48 hours to the needs of those individuals or their families in order to prevent a serious crime from happening. COR focuses on the bigger, long-term causes of crime, such as homelessness, drug use, mental illness, youth crime, and poor childhood healthcare. The program has been so successful that Saskatchewan has adopted a similar program to reduce crime.
Community Oriented Policing Services are designed to prevent crime by working with the communities they serve. These services are successful because they encourage community members to take a proactive role in their community, which strengthens ties between citizens and the police departments.