A Proper Policing Initiative

With all the protests, slogans, and riots concerning police brutality after the death of George Floyd, have you seen any actual plan to reform our policing?

We see calls to defund and/or dismantle departments, but no significant reform plan has been put out.

I actually wrote this for one of my criminal justice courses in grad school. Who knew that it might come in handy. So, allow me to present a potential solution.

PRIORITY PROBLEMS

As of 2017, overall crime in Akron, OH is 1.7 times higher than the national average. There has been a sharp spike in violent crime, especially the murder rate which has more than doubled since 2008. Violent crime rates in the area are more than twice the national average (City Data, 2017; FBI, 2017). Although crime rates across the nation have decreased since the mid-1990s, prevention and elimination of crime should be the primary goals of this department.

Furthermore, there is a growing distrust between police and the public we serve. Community relationships are deteriorating, and citizens are closing their doors when we come knocking for witness statements. The response from the police department is to spend less time in those neighborhoods which then increases the rift between both parties. The effects of this cycle of disrespect are manifested by high crime in areas that the police ignore. This cycle must be broken.

The following strategy plan involves investigating prominent policing theories, strategies for improving our department, and implementation of these strategies. We must assess what we have been doing and what we could do to improve. There are many valid criticisms from community members and other agency with whom we work. There will be opposing opinions from all sides, but we must resist the urge to maintain the status-quo in order to quell negative voices. Our department depends on it. Our community depends on it. Other communities who look to us to be leaders within our jurisdiction and might consider implementing similar strategies depend on it.

MISSION STATEMENT

The Mission of the members of the Akron Police Department is to enhance the quality of life, strengthen our neighborhoods and deliver superior services with professionalism, respect, integrity, dedication and excellence by working in partnership with our neighborhoods and community.

VALUES AND GOALS

Values

The Akron Police Department (APD) takes PRIDE in our commitment to our community. The APD values are as follows:

  • Professionalism – Our conduct and demeanor display the highest standard of personal and organizational excellence. As a professional organization, we are guided by the “Law Enforcement Code of Conduct.”
  • Respect – We recognize the authority we hold and will treat others as we would like to be treated. We will faithfully, and without bias, honor our obligations to the community.
  • Integrity – We are committed to the highest standards of honesty and ethical conduct, which are the cornerstones of our profession. We will uphold the public trust and our commitment to our core values.
  • Dedication – To the organization, each other, our families, and the citizens we serve, and having an unquestionable work ethic.
  • Excellence – There is always room for improvement—and that the never-ending search for improvement leads to excellence. We aim for excellence in everything we do.

Goals

The goals of APD are:

  • to enforce the law
  • to prevent crime
  • to protect and serve the community
  • to respect the community
  • to build positive relationships with the community

THEORIES

Professional Model

The Professional (or Traditional) Model of policing was rooted in the idea that law enforcement is the primary role for police officers. It was designed and implemented by August Volmer of the Berkeley Police Department in California in the early 20th century. This model presented uniformed officers as unified service providers, and any community response outside of law enforcement was a form of corruption within the department. The police were to be separate from the community in order to maintain professionalism (Kessler, 2019).

Furthermore, departments should be hierarchically structured with a clear chain of command and a centralized control center. Officers receive civil service protections like job security and merit based hiring and promotional advancement. They use the most recent available technology and prefer larger jurisdictions to smaller ones (Kessler, 2019).

Operations in a Professional Model are based on deterrence theories. They seek to apprehend and punish criminals to deter future crime. Their strategies are based on rapid responses to calls in order to catch criminals in the act, criminals fear being caught during commission of a criminal act, and follow up investigations will lead to the capture of perpetrators. Because of the rapid and thorough nature of police response, criminals will be deterred from committing crimes (Kessler, 2019).

Furthermore, Kessler (2019) explains that the view of police in a Professional Model is that they are experts. Citizens and politicians alike need not assist or meddle in policing. The main divisions within a Professional department are Patrol (divided geographically), Investigations (divided by type of crime, Support Services (records, inventory, dispatch), and Professional Standards (recruitment, training, and internal affairs). Despite the attempt to be professional in theory, the model comes under much scrutiny in practice.

As it turns out, isolating police from their community comes at a high social cost. A number of court challenges and presidential commissions were presented beginning in the 1950s. The legal arguments against the Professional Model included violations of the Constitutional rights of citizens through aggressive deterrence policies resulting in the implementation of community relations unites. The presidential commissions put substantial blame on the LAPD for mishandling racially charged riots in the 1960s. The charges were that white police officer – the majority of officers at the time – would either abuse or neglect minorities in the community (Kessler, 2019).

The biggest blow to the Professional Model is its ineffectiveness at preventing or lowering crime rates. With the implementation of national crime tracking data in the Uniformed Crime Report (UCR), the FBI was able to track crime rates across the country. Funding and research from government and private industries increased, and the Professional Model came under more intense scrutiny (Kessler, 2019). Between the violation of Constitutional rights and poor police perception in minority communities – especially among Blacks – a reform movement began to take shape. The era of the Professional Model was coming to an end.

Reform Models

Because of the failure of the Professional Model to engage with the community and lower crime, several reforms were implemented. Unfortunately, there were very few successes among the successors. According to Brown (2012), these included:

  1. Problem-Oriented Policing – now known as Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment, otherwise known as S.A.R.A.
  2. Broken Windows Policing – a focus on police saturation of high crime neighborhoods
  3. Intelligence-Led Policing – data driven prevention
  4. Team Policing – decentralization of control, emphasis on specialization, participatory management, and community involvement in police operations

The successful elements of these programs would eventually evolve into Community Policing (Kessler, 2019).

Community Policing Model

The studies, commissions, research, and elements of previous reforms led to the development of the primary challenger to the Professional Model – the Community Policing Model. The role of the police as they relate to other legal institutions (like prisons and courts) and the community is incredibly important. Proponents argue that implementation of Community Policing in 80% of precincts has created a misunderstanding that Community Policing is a program. This is not a problem of policy, but of philosophy (Brown, 2012). Thus, a shift in mindset is necessary for a true policing reform. The best way to change hearts and minds is to provide evidence of effectiveness.

Brown (2012) defines Community Policing as “a collaborative partnership between the police and law-abiding citizens designed to prevent crime, arrest offenders, solve neighborhood problems and improve the quality of life in the community” (p. 150). One of the changes under Community Policing is the encouragement for officers to get to know the people in their areas. Officers should be visible and work with locals between 911 calls. They seek to improve perceptions of policing and quality of life in their neighborhoods, as well as deter crime through visibility and community engagement.

Rather than permanent positions within the department, staff at all levels are held accountable to the citizens they are charged to protect. The traditionalist view of a military-style bureaucracy is remade into a participatory management style. Though Community Policing shares with its Professional predecessor the desire to prevent, reduce, and solve crimes, it differs in its focus on solving the underlying problems in the neighborhoods and promotes a state of peace within them.

The six principles of Community Policing according to Brown (2012) are:

  1. A proactive rather than reactive response to community problems
  2. A partnership between the police, public, and private agencies.
  3. Based on a set of values
  4. A focus on delivery of police services on the neighborhood level
  5. Accountability to residents in neighborhoods
  6. Sharing power with the people

In order to implement Community Policing there need to be phases viewed as a continuum in order to evolve traditional policing practices into the Community Model. This begins with a program phase that consists of small, targeted teams of officers that focus on problem solving in neighborhoods. The second is the style development phase in which a set of values are created to define standards for police responses. The third phase is institutionalization which changes basic systems of the police agency from top to bottom to fit the model. Once implemented, how effective is Community Policing?

Community Policing improves police support from both the government and the community. These strategies also help reduce fear of the police in the community. Furthermore, there is evidence to support that implementation of Community Policing also reduces and/or prevents crime in areas that utilize it (Brown 2012). These are but some of the reasons why I believe that Community Policing strategies should be implemented in Akron, OH.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES

Whether agency changes are like the meteor that immediately destroyed the dinosaurs or a slow evolution, strategies must be implemented to affect change. The first seismic shift should be to move the focus from reactionary incident-by-incident to proactive community policing (Sparrow, 1994). This can be done through using various phases of implementation.

Chronological Phases

This phase analyzes the order of circumstances that led to change (Sparrow, 1994). There was likely some social pressure in the environment that spawned a number of potential corrections that went through a competition in which the preferred method of adaptation emerged. In our case, distrust of police and increases in violent crime put pressure on the agency to make significant changes. When comparing traditional policing to community policing, it seems that the failures of the former gave the latter the adaptive advantages necessary to claim victory.

Sparrow (1994) lists shaking loose, experimentation, setting direction, and finally implementation as the stages of this phase. Agencies must shake loose from tradition before the remaining stages can take shape. They must then experiment with new ideas or policies until a new path emerges and management is able to set a direction for the agency to follow. Finally, the executives implement the direction agency wide. Those who contributed to innovation should be rewarded for their hard work.

Piece-by-Piece Phase

An alternative phase presented by Sparrow (1994) is an analytical approach that takes each piece of the organization apart for study, then reassembling the best parts to create a more perfect whole. This is a more anatomical look at the agency as a body with individual components that work in conjunction to make up a functioning whole. If each part of the body is working at its maximum capability, the entire organism flourishes.

Relationship Phases

Finally, Sparrow (1994) stresses the importance of relationships. This considers the relationship between agency and environment. It seeks to transform relationships from a top-down predatory approach to a reciprocal symbiotic one. This begins with internal relationships where traditional hierarchy gives way to supervisory accountability with subordinates. A similar relationship is created between the agency and community.

Not only should this partnership model be applied to governing and law enforcement agencies, but with the community itself. Citizens become empowered when they are treated with respect and their concerns are no longer ignored. They are more likely to comply and work with police officers to prevent or solve crimes in the area.

Implementation

We must begin with an assessment of the department resulting in a plan of action (Brown, 2012). The strengths and deficiencies should be accurately measured and analyzed, and steps should be taken to improve what works and eliminate what does not. This process should be continually applied throughout the duration of the policies or when a new one is proposed and/or adopted. This flexibility allows us to account for changes in personnel, local economy, and demographics of the city itself.

Implementation needs to be systemic – the entire organization must implement changes simultaneously at all levels. Clearly stated goals, understanding of the goals, and teamwork are essential elements here. Flexibility is also important due to the nature of change presented throughout the agency, government, and community. Goals need to be met, but the means can vary to some extent. Rigidity might work in a traditional model, but it is detrimental to Community Policing.

The Action Plan

Communication is vital to the success of program implementation. Transparency with internal agency communication is a priority, but building new relationships with the community should also be the first step. This is necessary for establishing credibility and regaining trust in the community. This is a top down approach beginning with leaders. Officers become ambassadors for the department, so their trust in leadership and compliance with the stated goals must be absolute (Brown, 2012). That way, citizens will see a unified force out in the community and will follow suit.

The second step is community partnership. The public voice is needed for identifying problems, coming up with strategies, developing policies, and evaluating results (Brown, 2012). Giving a voice to the voiceless will empower the community and improve the newly-formed relationships with the public. As partners, rather than consumers, this new method of gaining public trust will generate social capital – the third step.

Social capital is a goodwill currency exchanged between the agency and the public. It is built on trust and is necessary for Community Policing. By including the public in agency matters, we can broaden participation and increase diversity. The police must embrace racial, religious, gender, economic, political, and sexual diversity in the community (Brown, 2012). When enough social capital is developed, the police will be able to trade information and good will with the community.

The final steps revolves around leadership. Leaders should lead. That means they must be at the front of the line, not tucked away in the back. They must be visible, present, and active in the agency and the community. Leaders should develop a broad vision that includes specific goals and strategies. Clear boundaries for goal attainment must be set. This can be done by creating lists of tasks ranked in order of priority. This allows for a clear representation of goals so that all involved can see that task completion is attainable and worth pursuing (Brown, 2012).

Furthermore, leadership roles should be clearly defined and there must be a change in mindset from the police chiefs on down. Treating others as individuals, keeping pace with changing communities, and working to continuously improve management are necessary changes. This might not be a natural process, so leaders must be vigilant in adapting to new frameworks and policies (Brown, 2012). They must accept both innovation and failure, for the latter is often necessary for the former to succeed.

Notice that the first three steps – new relationships with the public, community partnerships, and social capital – are rooted in interactions between the agency and the public. This is the crux of Community Policing. It can only be successful when leadership goes all-in on the changes. Three parts community; one part leadership. This is a radical departure from traditional policing, but one that must be implemented if we are to protect, serve, and heal our communities.

POTENTIAL OBSTACLES

Resistance to change is inevitable (Sparrow, 1994), especially when Community Policing requires a dramatic philosophical shift (Brown, 2012). Some opponents cite tradition as the superior method. Some resist on the basis that “unelected officials” have no business determining policing policies. The take every opportunity to exploit a perceived failure of a new policy to undermine the entire process. They want to “get back to basics” (Sparrow, 1994, p. 132) of rapid response, detective work, and arresting offenders.

Furthermore, there are additional concerns over allocation of resources. This is a reasonable resistance for any large agency. New programs require new allocations. A cost-effective balance must be achieved. The focus on prevention rather than an incident-by-incident response might seem as though funding is being taken away from traditional police work to a more theoretical model. Prevention is much more difficult to measure than response. We must work to provide as much data on the effectiveness of proactive Community Policing as possible.

In addition to inner-agency concerns, there might also be a problem of community skepticism. An immediate increase in police presence in a neighborhood might lead to citizens wondering if they are under the watchful eye of a police state. It might increase apprehension or hostility when dealing with police. This is why demonstrated respect and open dialogue between street officers and residents is vital, especially in the early stages of implementation.

When breaking down the segregated walls of the bureaucratic hierarchy, corruption might creep into the agency (Sparrow, 1994). With fewer eyes on interactions between departments, there are fewer checks and balances. However, this problem is mitigated by other means. The merit based Community Policing model and allowing bad actors to be fired easier means that performance is analyzed and punished more severely than in the traditional model. Furthermore, accountability to citizens who are already skeptical ensures that a watchful eye remains on the agency even without bureaucratic oversight.

These are valid concerns for those who are apprehensive to change, but change is necessary. I believe that successful implementation is possible, and the benefits outweigh the potential problems. Our goal is not perfection, but improvement. The crime rate in Akron, OH is unacceptable. Community relations between the police and the public are strained and the Professional model has been weighed, measured, and found wanting. If we can control the narrative, change mindsets within APD, and record positive, effective results, the those who struggle with new procedures might be persuaded.

Works Cited

Brown, L.P. (2012). Policing in the 21st century: Community policing. Bloomington, IN.        AuthorHouse.

City Data. (2017). Crime rate in Akron, Ohio. Retrieved from http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Akron-Ohio.html

FBI. (2017). Crime in the United States. FBI: UCR. Retrieved from https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2017/crime-in-the-u.s.-2017/topic-pages/tables/table-4

Kessler, D. (2019). Module 3 overview [Lecture Notes].  Retrieved from https://learn.kent.edu

Sparrow, M.K. (1994). Imposing duties. Westport, CT: Praeger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AKRON POLICING STRATEGY PLAN

By Alex Simmons

Fall, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Akron Policing Strategy Plan

PRIORITY PROBLEMS

As of 2017, overall crime in Akron, OH is 1.7 times higher than the national average. There has been a sharp spike in violent crime, especially the murder rate which has more than doubled since 2008. Violent crime rates in the area are more than twice the national average (City Data, 2017; FBI, 2017). Although crime rates across the nation have decreased since the mid-1990s, prevention and elimination of crime should be the primary goals of this department.

Furthermore, there is a growing distrust between police and the public we serve. Community relationships are deteriorating, and citizens are closing their doors when we come knocking for witness statements. The response from the police department is to spend less time in those neighborhoods which then increases the rift between both parties. The effects of this cycle of disrespect are manifested by high crime in areas that the police ignore. This cycle must be broken.

The following strategy plan involves investigating prominent policing theories, strategies for improving our department, and implementation of these strategies. We must assess what we have been doing and what we could do to improve. There are many valid criticisms from community members and other agency with whom we work. There will be opposing opinions from all sides, but we must resist the urge to maintain the status-quo in order to quell negative voices. Our department depends on it. Our community depends on it. Other communities who look to us to be leaders within our jurisdiction and might consider implementing similar strategies depend on it.

 

 

MISSION STATEMENT

The Mission of the members of the Akron Police Department is to enhance the quality of life, strengthen our neighborhoods and deliver superior services with professionalism, respect, integrity, dedication and excellence by working in partnership with our neighborhoods and community.

VALUES AND GOALS

Values

The Akron Police Department (APD) takes PRIDE in our commitment to our community. The APD values are as follows:

  • Professionalism – Our conduct and demeanor display the highest standard of personal and organizational excellence. As a professional organization, we are guided by the “Law Enforcement Code of Conduct.”
  • Respect – We recognize the authority we hold and will treat others as we would like to be treated. We will faithfully, and without bias, honor our obligations to the community.
  • Integrity – We are committed to the highest standards of honesty and ethical conduct, which are the cornerstones of our profession. We will uphold the public trust and our commitment to our core values.
  • Dedication – To the organization, each other, our families, and the citizens we serve, and having an unquestionable work ethic.
  • Excellence – There is always room for improvement—and that the never-ending search for improvement leads to excellence. We aim for excellence in everything we do.

 

 

Goals

The goals of APD are:

  • to enforce the law
  • to prevent crime
  • to protect and serve the community
  • to respect the community
  • to build positive relationships with the community

THEORIES

Professional Model

The Professional (or Traditional) Model of policing was rooted in the idea that law enforcement is the primary role for police officers. It was designed and implemented by August Volmer of the Berkeley Police Department in California in the early 20th century. This model presented uniformed officers as unified service providers, and any community response outside of law enforcement was a form of corruption within the department. The police were to be separate from the community in order to maintain professionalism (Kessler, 2019).

Furthermore, departments should be hierarchically structured with a clear chain of command and a centralized control center. Officers receive civil service protections like job security and merit based hiring and promotional advancement. They use the most recent available technology and prefer larger jurisdictions to smaller ones (Kessler, 2019).

Operations in a Professional Model are based on deterrence theories. They seek to apprehend and punish criminals to deter future crime. Their strategies are based on rapid responses to calls in order to catch criminals in the act, criminals fear being caught during commission of a criminal act, and follow up investigations will lead to the capture of perpetrators. Because of the rapid and thorough nature of police response, criminals will be deterred from committing crimes (Kessler, 2019).

Furthermore, Kessler (2019) explains that the view of police in a Professional Model is that they are experts. Citizens and politicians alike need not assist or meddle in policing. The main divisions within a Professional department are Patrol (divided geographically), Investigations (divided by type of crime, Support Services (records, inventory, dispatch), and Professional Standards (recruitment, training, and internal affairs). Despite the attempt to be professional in theory, the model comes under much scrutiny in practice.

As it turns out, isolating police from their community comes at a high social cost. A number of court challenges and presidential commissions were presented beginning in the 1950s. The legal arguments against the Professional Model included violations of the Constitutional rights of citizens through aggressive deterrence policies resulting in the implementation of community relations unites. The presidential commissions put substantial blame on the LAPD for mishandling racially charged riots in the 1960s. The charges were that white police officer – the majority of officers at the time – would either abuse or neglect minorities in the community (Kessler, 2019).

The biggest blow to the Professional Model is its ineffectiveness at preventing or lowering crime rates. With the implementation of national crime tracking data in the Uniformed Crime Report (UCR), the FBI was able to track crime rates across the country. Funding and research from government and private industries increased, and the Professional Model came under more intense scrutiny (Kessler, 2019). Between the violation of Constitutional rights and poor police perception in minority communities – especially among Blacks – a reform movement began to take shape. The era of the Professional Model was coming to an end.

Reform Models

Because of the failure of the Professional Model to engage with the community and lower crime, several reforms were implemented. Unfortunately, there were very few successes among the successors. According to Brown (2012), these included:

  1. Problem-Oriented Policing – now known as Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment, otherwise known as S.A.R.A.
  2. Broken Windows Policing – a focus on police saturation of high crime neighborhoods
  3. Intelligence-Led Policing – data driven prevention
  4. Team Policing – decentralization of control, emphasis on specialization, participatory management, and community involvement in police operations

The successful elements of these programs would eventually evolve into Community Policing (Kessler, 2019).

Community Policing Model

The studies, commissions, research, and elements of previous reforms led to the development of the primary challenger to the Professional Model – the Community Policing Model. The role of the police as they relate to other legal institutions (like prisons and courts) and the community is incredibly important. Proponents argue that implementation of Community Policing in 80% of precincts has created a misunderstanding that Community Policing is a program. This is not a problem of policy, but of philosophy (Brown, 2012). Thus, a shift in mindset is necessary for a true policing reform. The best way to change hearts and minds is to provide evidence of effectiveness.

Brown (2012) defines Community Policing as “a collaborative partnership between the police and law-abiding citizens designed to prevent crime, arrest offenders, solve neighborhood problems and improve the quality of life in the community” (p. 150). One of the changes under Community Policing is the encouragement for officers to get to know the people in their areas. Officers should be visible and work with locals between 911 calls. They seek to improve perceptions of policing and quality of life in their neighborhoods, as well as deter crime through visibility and community engagement.

Rather than permanent positions within the department, staff at all levels are held accountable to the citizens they are charged to protect. The traditionalist view of a military-style bureaucracy is remade into a participatory management style. Though Community Policing shares with its Professional predecessor the desire to prevent, reduce, and solve crimes, it differs in its focus on solving the underlying problems in the neighborhoods and promotes a state of peace within them.

The six principles of Community Policing according to Brown (2012) are:

  1. A proactive rather than reactive response to community problems
  2. A partnership between the police, public, and private agencies.
  3. Based on a set of values
  4. A focus on delivery of police services on the neighborhood level
  5. Accountability to residents in neighborhoods
  6. Sharing power with the people

In order to implement Community Policing there need to be phases viewed as a continuum in order to evolve traditional policing practices into the Community Model. This begins with a program phase that consists of small, targeted teams of officers that focus on problem solving in neighborhoods. The second is the style development phase in which a set of values are created to define standards for police responses. The third phase is institutionalization which changes basic systems of the police agency from top to bottom to fit the model. Once implemented, how effective is Community Policing?

Community Policing improves police support from both the government and the community. These strategies also help reduce fear of the police in the community. Furthermore, there is evidence to support that implementation of Community Policing also reduces and/or prevents crime in areas that utilize it (Brown 2012). These are but some of the reasons why I believe that Community Policing strategies should be implemented in Akron, OH.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES

Whether agency changes are like the meteor that immediately destroyed the dinosaurs or a slow evolution, strategies must be implemented to affect change. The first seismic shift should be to move the focus from reactionary incident-by-incident to proactive community policing (Sparrow, 1994). This can be done through using various phases of implementation.

Chronological Phases

This phase analyzes the order of circumstances that led to change (Sparrow, 1994). There was likely some social pressure in the environment that spawned a number of potential corrections that went through a competition in which the preferred method of adaptation emerged. In our case, distrust of police and increases in violent crime put pressure on the agency to make significant changes. When comparing traditional policing to community policing, it seems that the failures of the former gave the latter the adaptive advantages necessary to claim victory.

Sparrow (1994) lists shaking loose, experimentation, setting direction, and finally implementation as the stages of this phase. Agencies must shake loose from tradition before the remaining stages can take shape. They must then experiment with new ideas or policies until a new path emerges and management is able to set a direction for the agency to follow. Finally, the executives implement the direction agency wide. Those who contributed to innovation should be rewarded for their hard work.

Piece-by-Piece Phase

An alternative phase presented by Sparrow (1994) is an analytical approach that takes each piece of the organization apart for study, then reassembling the best parts to create a more perfect whole. This is a more anatomical look at the agency as a body with individual components that work in conjunction to make up a functioning whole. If each part of the body is working at its maximum capability, the entire organism flourishes.

Relationship Phases

Finally, Sparrow (1994) stresses the importance of relationships. This considers the relationship between agency and environment. It seeks to transform relationships from a top-down predatory approach to a reciprocal symbiotic one. This begins with internal relationships where traditional hierarchy gives way to supervisory accountability with subordinates. A similar relationship is created between the agency and community.

Not only should this partnership model be applied to governing and law enforcement agencies, but with the community itself. Citizens become empowered when they are treated with respect and their concerns are no longer ignored. They are more likely to comply and work with police officers to prevent or solve crimes in the area.

Implementation

We must begin with an assessment of the department resulting in a plan of action (Brown, 2012). The strengths and deficiencies should be accurately measured and analyzed, and steps should be taken to improve what works and eliminate what does not. This process should be continually applied throughout the duration of the policies or when a new one is proposed and/or adopted. This flexibility allows us to account for changes in personnel, local economy, and demographics of the city itself.

Implementation needs to be systemic – the entire organization must implement changes simultaneously at all levels. Clearly stated goals, understanding of the goals, and teamwork are essential elements here. Flexibility is also important due to the nature of change presented throughout the agency, government, and community. Goals need to be met, but the means can vary to some extent. Rigidity might work in a traditional model, but it is detrimental to Community Policing.

The Action Plan

Communication is vital to the success of program implementation. Transparency with internal agency communication is a priority, but building new relationships with the community should also be the first step. This is necessary for establishing credibility and regaining trust in the community. This is a top down approach beginning with leaders. Officers become ambassadors for the department, so their trust in leadership and compliance with the stated goals must be absolute (Brown, 2012). That way, citizens will see a unified force out in the community and will follow suit.

The second step is community partnership. The public voice is needed for identifying problems, coming up with strategies, developing policies, and evaluating results (Brown, 2012). Giving a voice to the voiceless will empower the community and improve the newly-formed relationships with the public. As partners, rather than consumers, this new method of gaining public trust will generate social capital – the third step.

Social capital is a goodwill currency exchanged between the agency and the public. It is built on trust and is necessary for Community Policing. By including the public in agency matters, we can broaden participation and increase diversity. The police must embrace racial, religious, gender, economic, political, and sexual diversity in the community (Brown, 2012). When enough social capital is developed, the police will be able to trade information and good will with the community.

The final steps revolves around leadership. Leaders should lead. That means they must be at the front of the line, not tucked away in the back. They must be visible, present, and active in the agency and the community. Leaders should develop a broad vision that includes specific goals and strategies. Clear boundaries for goal attainment must be set. This can be done by creating lists of tasks ranked in order of priority. This allows for a clear representation of goals so that all involved can see that task completion is attainable and worth pursuing (Brown, 2012).

Furthermore, leadership roles should be clearly defined and there must be a change in mindset from the police chiefs on down. Treating others as individuals, keeping pace with changing communities, and working to continuously improve management are necessary changes. This might not be a natural process, so leaders must be vigilant in adapting to new frameworks and policies (Brown, 2012). They must accept both innovation and failure, for the latter is often necessary for the former to succeed.

Notice that the first three steps – new relationships with the public, community partnerships, and social capital – are rooted in interactions between the agency and the public. This is the crux of Community Policing. It can only be successful when leadership goes all-in on the changes. Three parts community; one part leadership. This is a radical departure from traditional policing, but one that must be implemented if we are to protect, serve, and heal our communities.

POTENTIAL OBSTACLES

Resistance to change is inevitable (Sparrow, 1994), especially when Community Policing requires a dramatic philosophical shift (Brown, 2012). Some opponents cite tradition as the superior method. Some resist on the basis that “unelected officials” have no business determining policing policies. The take every opportunity to exploit a perceived failure of a new policy to undermine the entire process. They want to “get back to basics” (Sparrow, 1994, p. 132) of rapid response, detective work, and arresting offenders.

Furthermore, there are additional concerns over allocation of resources. This is a reasonable resistance for any large agency. New programs require new allocations. A cost-effective balance must be achieved. The focus on prevention rather than an incident-by-incident response might seem as though funding is being taken away from traditional police work to a more theoretical model. Prevention is much more difficult to measure than response. We must work to provide as much data on the effectiveness of proactive Community Policing as possible.

In addition to inner-agency concerns, there might also be a problem of community skepticism. An immediate increase in police presence in a neighborhood might lead to citizens wondering if they are under the watchful eye of a police state. It might increase apprehension or hostility when dealing with police. This is why demonstrated respect and open dialogue between street officers and residents is vital, especially in the early stages of implementation.

When breaking down the segregated walls of the bureaucratic hierarchy, corruption might creep into the agency (Sparrow, 1994). With fewer eyes on interactions between departments, there are fewer checks and balances. However, this problem is mitigated by other means. The merit based Community Policing model and allowing bad actors to be fired easier means that performance is analyzed and punished more severely than in the traditional model. Furthermore, accountability to citizens who are already skeptical ensures that a watchful eye remains on the agency even without bureaucratic oversight.

These are valid concerns for those who are apprehensive to change, but change is necessary. I believe that successful implementation is possible, and the benefits outweigh the potential problems. Our goal is not perfection, but improvement. The crime rate in Akron, OH is unacceptable. Community relations between the police and the public are strained and the Professional model has been weighed, measured, and found wanting. If we can control the narrative, change mindsets within APD, and record positive, effective results, the those who struggle with new procedures might be persuaded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Brown, L.P. (2012). Policing in the 21st century: Community policing. Bloomington, IN:

AuthorHouse.

City Data. (2017). Crime rate in Akron, Ohio. Retrieved from http://www.city-

data.com/crime/crime-Akron-Ohio.html

FBI. (2017). Crime in the United States. FBI: UCR. Retrieved from https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-

the-u.s/2017/crime-in-the-u.s.-2017/topic-pages/tables/table-4

Kessler, D. (2019). Module 3 overview [Lecture Notes].  Retrieved from https://learn.kent.edu

Sparrow, M.K. (1994). Imposing duties. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AKRON POLICING STRATEGY PLAN

By Alex Simmons

Fall, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Akron Policing Strategy Plan

PRIORITY PROBLEMS

As of 2017, overall crime in Akron, OH is 1.7 times higher than the national average. There has been a sharp spike in violent crime, especially the murder rate which has more than doubled since 2008. Violent crime rates in the area are more than twice the national average (City Data, 2017; FBI, 2017). Although crime rates across the nation have decreased since the mid-1990s, prevention and elimination of crime should be the primary goals of this department.

Furthermore, there is a growing distrust between police and the public we serve. Community relationships are deteriorating, and citizens are closing their doors when we come knocking for witness statements. The response from the police department is to spend less time in those neighborhoods which then increases the rift between both parties. The effects of this cycle of disrespect are manifested by high crime in areas that the police ignore. This cycle must be broken.

The following strategy plan involves investigating prominent policing theories, strategies for improving our department, and implementation of these strategies. We must assess what we have been doing and what we could do to improve. There are many valid criticisms from community members and other agency with whom we work. There will be opposing opinions from all sides, but we must resist the urge to maintain the status-quo in order to quell negative voices. Our department depends on it. Our community depends on it. Other communities who look to us to be leaders within our jurisdiction and might consider implementing similar strategies depend on it.

 

 

MISSION STATEMENT

The Mission of the members of the Akron Police Department is to enhance the quality of life, strengthen our neighborhoods and deliver superior services with professionalism, respect, integrity, dedication and excellence by working in partnership with our neighborhoods and community.

VALUES AND GOALS

Values

The Akron Police Department (APD) takes PRIDE in our commitment to our community. The APD values are as follows:

  • Professionalism – Our conduct and demeanor display the highest standard of personal and organizational excellence. As a professional organization, we are guided by the “Law Enforcement Code of Conduct.”
  • Respect – We recognize the authority we hold and will treat others as we would like to be treated. We will faithfully, and without bias, honor our obligations to the community.
  • Integrity – We are committed to the highest standards of honesty and ethical conduct, which are the cornerstones of our profession. We will uphold the public trust and our commitment to our core values.
  • Dedication – To the organization, each other, our families, and the citizens we serve, and having an unquestionable work ethic.
  • Excellence – There is always room for improvement—and that the never-ending search for improvement leads to excellence. We aim for excellence in everything we do.

 

 

Goals

The goals of APD are:

  • to enforce the law
  • to prevent crime
  • to protect and serve the community
  • to respect the community
  • to build positive relationships with the community

THEORIES

Professional Model

The Professional (or Traditional) Model of policing was rooted in the idea that law enforcement is the primary role for police officers. It was designed and implemented by August Volmer of the Berkeley Police Department in California in the early 20th century. This model presented uniformed officers as unified service providers, and any community response outside of law enforcement was a form of corruption within the department. The police were to be separate from the community in order to maintain professionalism (Kessler, 2019).

Furthermore, departments should be hierarchically structured with a clear chain of command and a centralized control center. Officers receive civil service protections like job security and merit based hiring and promotional advancement. They use the most recent available technology and prefer larger jurisdictions to smaller ones (Kessler, 2019).

Operations in a Professional Model are based on deterrence theories. They seek to apprehend and punish criminals to deter future crime. Their strategies are based on rapid responses to calls in order to catch criminals in the act, criminals fear being caught during commission of a criminal act, and follow up investigations will lead to the capture of perpetrators. Because of the rapid and thorough nature of police response, criminals will be deterred from committing crimes (Kessler, 2019).

Furthermore, Kessler (2019) explains that the view of police in a Professional Model is that they are experts. Citizens and politicians alike need not assist or meddle in policing. The main divisions within a Professional department are Patrol (divided geographically), Investigations (divided by type of crime, Support Services (records, inventory, dispatch), and Professional Standards (recruitment, training, and internal affairs). Despite the attempt to be professional in theory, the model comes under much scrutiny in practice.

As it turns out, isolating police from their community comes at a high social cost. A number of court challenges and presidential commissions were presented beginning in the 1950s. The legal arguments against the Professional Model included violations of the Constitutional rights of citizens through aggressive deterrence policies resulting in the implementation of community relations unites. The presidential commissions put substantial blame on the LAPD for mishandling racially charged riots in the 1960s. The charges were that white police officer – the majority of officers at the time – would either abuse or neglect minorities in the community (Kessler, 2019).

The biggest blow to the Professional Model is its ineffectiveness at preventing or lowering crime rates. With the implementation of national crime tracking data in the Uniformed Crime Report (UCR), the FBI was able to track crime rates across the country. Funding and research from government and private industries increased, and the Professional Model came under more intense scrutiny (Kessler, 2019). Between the violation of Constitutional rights and poor police perception in minority communities – especially among Blacks – a reform movement began to take shape. The era of the Professional Model was coming to an end.

Reform Models

Because of the failure of the Professional Model to engage with the community and lower crime, several reforms were implemented. Unfortunately, there were very few successes among the successors. According to Brown (2012), these included:

  1. Problem-Oriented Policing – now known as Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment, otherwise known as S.A.R.A.
  2. Broken Windows Policing – a focus on police saturation of high crime neighborhoods
  3. Intelligence-Led Policing – data driven prevention
  4. Team Policing – decentralization of control, emphasis on specialization, participatory management, and community involvement in police operations

The successful elements of these programs would eventually evolve into Community Policing (Kessler, 2019).

Community Policing Model

The studies, commissions, research, and elements of previous reforms led to the development of the primary challenger to the Professional Model – the Community Policing Model. The role of the police as they relate to other legal institutions (like prisons and courts) and the community is incredibly important. Proponents argue that implementation of Community Policing in 80% of precincts has created a misunderstanding that Community Policing is a program. This is not a problem of policy, but of philosophy (Brown, 2012). Thus, a shift in mindset is necessary for a true policing reform. The best way to change hearts and minds is to provide evidence of effectiveness.

Brown (2012) defines Community Policing as “a collaborative partnership between the police and law-abiding citizens designed to prevent crime, arrest offenders, solve neighborhood problems and improve the quality of life in the community” (p. 150). One of the changes under Community Policing is the encouragement for officers to get to know the people in their areas. Officers should be visible and work with locals between 911 calls. They seek to improve perceptions of policing and quality of life in their neighborhoods, as well as deter crime through visibility and community engagement.

Rather than permanent positions within the department, staff at all levels are held accountable to the citizens they are charged to protect. The traditionalist view of a military-style bureaucracy is remade into a participatory management style. Though Community Policing shares with its Professional predecessor the desire to prevent, reduce, and solve crimes, it differs in its focus on solving the underlying problems in the neighborhoods and promotes a state of peace within them.

The six principles of Community Policing according to Brown (2012) are:

  1. A proactive rather than reactive response to community problems
  2. A partnership between the police, public, and private agencies.
  3. Based on a set of values
  4. A focus on delivery of police services on the neighborhood level
  5. Accountability to residents in neighborhoods
  6. Sharing power with the people

In order to implement Community Policing there need to be phases viewed as a continuum in order to evolve traditional policing practices into the Community Model. This begins with a program phase that consists of small, targeted teams of officers that focus on problem solving in neighborhoods. The second is the style development phase in which a set of values are created to define standards for police responses. The third phase is institutionalization which changes basic systems of the police agency from top to bottom to fit the model. Once implemented, how effective is Community Policing?

Community Policing improves police support from both the government and the community. These strategies also help reduce fear of the police in the community. Furthermore, there is evidence to support that implementation of Community Policing also reduces and/or prevents crime in areas that utilize it (Brown 2012). These are but some of the reasons why I believe that Community Policing strategies should be implemented in Akron, OH.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES

Whether agency changes are like the meteor that immediately destroyed the dinosaurs or a slow evolution, strategies must be implemented to affect change. The first seismic shift should be to move the focus from reactionary incident-by-incident to proactive community policing (Sparrow, 1994). This can be done through using various phases of implementation.

Chronological Phases

This phase analyzes the order of circumstances that led to change (Sparrow, 1994). There was likely some social pressure in the environment that spawned a number of potential corrections that went through a competition in which the preferred method of adaptation emerged. In our case, distrust of police and increases in violent crime put pressure on the agency to make significant changes. When comparing traditional policing to community policing, it seems that the failures of the former gave the latter the adaptive advantages necessary to claim victory.

Sparrow (1994) lists shaking loose, experimentation, setting direction, and finally implementation as the stages of this phase. Agencies must shake loose from tradition before the remaining stages can take shape. They must then experiment with new ideas or policies until a new path emerges and management is able to set a direction for the agency to follow. Finally, the executives implement the direction agency wide. Those who contributed to innovation should be rewarded for their hard work.

Piece-by-Piece Phase

An alternative phase presented by Sparrow (1994) is an analytical approach that takes each piece of the organization apart for study, then reassembling the best parts to create a more perfect whole. This is a more anatomical look at the agency as a body with individual components that work in conjunction to make up a functioning whole. If each part of the body is working at its maximum capability, the entire organism flourishes.

Relationship Phases

Finally, Sparrow (1994) stresses the importance of relationships. This considers the relationship between agency and environment. It seeks to transform relationships from a top-down predatory approach to a reciprocal symbiotic one. This begins with internal relationships where traditional hierarchy gives way to supervisory accountability with subordinates. A similar relationship is created between the agency and community.

Not only should this partnership model be applied to governing and law enforcement agencies, but with the community itself. Citizens become empowered when they are treated with respect and their concerns are no longer ignored. They are more likely to comply and work with police officers to prevent or solve crimes in the area.

Implementation

We must begin with an assessment of the department resulting in a plan of action (Brown, 2012). The strengths and deficiencies should be accurately measured and analyzed, and steps should be taken to improve what works and eliminate what does not. This process should be continually applied throughout the duration of the policies or when a new one is proposed and/or adopted. This flexibility allows us to account for changes in personnel, local economy, and demographics of the city itself.

Implementation needs to be systemic – the entire organization must implement changes simultaneously at all levels. Clearly stated goals, understanding of the goals, and teamwork are essential elements here. Flexibility is also important due to the nature of change presented throughout the agency, government, and community. Goals need to be met, but the means can vary to some extent. Rigidity might work in a traditional model, but it is detrimental to Community Policing.

The Action Plan

Communication is vital to the success of program implementation. Transparency with internal agency communication is a priority, but building new relationships with the community should also be the first step. This is necessary for establishing credibility and regaining trust in the community. This is a top down approach beginning with leaders. Officers become ambassadors for the department, so their trust in leadership and compliance with the stated goals must be absolute (Brown, 2012). That way, citizens will see a unified force out in the community and will follow suit.

The second step is community partnership. The public voice is needed for identifying problems, coming up with strategies, developing policies, and evaluating results (Brown, 2012). Giving a voice to the voiceless will empower the community and improve the newly-formed relationships with the public. As partners, rather than consumers, this new method of gaining public trust will generate social capital – the third step.

Social capital is a goodwill currency exchanged between the agency and the public. It is built on trust and is necessary for Community Policing. By including the public in agency matters, we can broaden participation and increase diversity. The police must embrace racial, religious, gender, economic, political, and sexual diversity in the community (Brown, 2012). When enough social capital is developed, the police will be able to trade information and good will with the community.

The final steps revolves around leadership. Leaders should lead. That means they must be at the front of the line, not tucked away in the back. They must be visible, present, and active in the agency and the community. Leaders should develop a broad vision that includes specific goals and strategies. Clear boundaries for goal attainment must be set. This can be done by creating lists of tasks ranked in order of priority. This allows for a clear representation of goals so that all involved can see that task completion is attainable and worth pursuing (Brown, 2012).

Furthermore, leadership roles should be clearly defined and there must be a change in mindset from the police chiefs on down. Treating others as individuals, keeping pace with changing communities, and working to continuously improve management are necessary changes. This might not be a natural process, so leaders must be vigilant in adapting to new frameworks and policies (Brown, 2012). They must accept both innovation and failure, for the latter is often necessary for the former to succeed.

Notice that the first three steps – new relationships with the public, community partnerships, and social capital – are rooted in interactions between the agency and the public. This is the crux of Community Policing. It can only be successful when leadership goes all-in on the changes. Three parts community; one part leadership. This is a radical departure from traditional policing, but one that must be implemented if we are to protect, serve, and heal our communities.

POTENTIAL OBSTACLES

Resistance to change is inevitable (Sparrow, 1994), especially when Community Policing requires a dramatic philosophical shift (Brown, 2012). Some opponents cite tradition as the superior method. Some resist on the basis that “unelected officials” have no business determining policing policies. The take every opportunity to exploit a perceived failure of a new policy to undermine the entire process. They want to “get back to basics” (Sparrow, 1994, p. 132) of rapid response, detective work, and arresting offenders.

Furthermore, there are additional concerns over allocation of resources. This is a reasonable resistance for any large agency. New programs require new allocations. A cost-effective balance must be achieved. The focus on prevention rather than an incident-by-incident response might seem as though funding is being taken away from traditional police work to a more theoretical model. Prevention is much more difficult to measure than response. We must work to provide as much data on the effectiveness of proactive Community Policing as possible.

In addition to inner-agency concerns, there might also be a problem of community skepticism. An immediate increase in police presence in a neighborhood might lead to citizens wondering if they are under the watchful eye of a police state. It might increase apprehension or hostility when dealing with police. This is why demonstrated respect and open dialogue between street officers and residents is vital, especially in the early stages of implementation.

When breaking down the segregated walls of the bureaucratic hierarchy, corruption might creep into the agency (Sparrow, 1994). With fewer eyes on interactions between departments, there are fewer checks and balances. However, this problem is mitigated by other means. The merit based Community Policing model and allowing bad actors to be fired easier means that performance is analyzed and punished more severely than in the traditional model. Furthermore, accountability to citizens who are already skeptical ensures that a watchful eye remains on the agency even without bureaucratic oversight.

These are valid concerns for those who are apprehensive to change, but change is necessary. I believe that successful implementation is possible, and the benefits outweigh the potential problems. Our goal is not perfection, but improvement. The crime rate in Akron, OH is unacceptable. Community relations between the police and the public are strained and the Professional model has been weighed, measured, and found wanting. If we can control the narrative, change mindsets within APD, and record positive, effective results, the those who struggle with new procedures might be persuaded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Brown, L.P. (2012). Policing in the 21st century: Community policing. Bloomington, IN:

AuthorHouse.

City Data. (2017). Crime rate in Akron, Ohio. Retrieved from http://www.city-

data.com/crime/crime-Akron-Ohio.html

FBI. (2017). Crime in the United States. FBI: UCR. Retrieved from https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-

the-u.s/2017/crime-in-the-u.s.-2017/topic-pages/tables/table-4

Kessler, D. (2019). Module 3 overview [Lecture Notes].  Retrieved from https://learn.kent.edu

Sparrow, M.K. (1994). Imposing duties. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AKRON POLICING STRATEGY PLAN

By Alex Simmons

Fall, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Akron Policing Strategy Plan

PRIORITY PROBLEMS

As of 2017, overall crime in Akron, OH is 1.7 times higher than the national average. There has been a sharp spike in violent crime, especially the murder rate which has more than doubled since 2008. Violent crime rates in the area are more than twice the national average (City Data, 2017; FBI, 2017). Although crime rates across the nation have decreased since the mid-1990s, prevention and elimination of crime should be the primary goals of this department.

Furthermore, there is a growing distrust between police and the public we serve. Community relationships are deteriorating, and citizens are closing their doors when we come knocking for witness statements. The response from the police department is to spend less time in those neighborhoods which then increases the rift between both parties. The effects of this cycle of disrespect are manifested by high crime in areas that the police ignore. This cycle must be broken.

The following strategy plan involves investigating prominent policing theories, strategies for improving our department, and implementation of these strategies. We must assess what we have been doing and what we could do to improve. There are many valid criticisms from community members and other agency with whom we work. There will be opposing opinions from all sides, but we must resist the urge to maintain the status-quo in order to quell negative voices. Our department depends on it. Our community depends on it. Other communities who look to us to be leaders within our jurisdiction and might consider implementing similar strategies depend on it.

 

 

MISSION STATEMENT

The Mission of the members of the Akron Police Department is to enhance the quality of life, strengthen our neighborhoods and deliver superior services with professionalism, respect, integrity, dedication and excellence by working in partnership with our neighborhoods and community.

VALUES AND GOALS

Values

The Akron Police Department (APD) takes PRIDE in our commitment to our community. The APD values are as follows:

  • Professionalism – Our conduct and demeanor display the highest standard of personal and organizational excellence. As a professional organization, we are guided by the “Law Enforcement Code of Conduct.”
  • Respect – We recognize the authority we hold and will treat others as we would like to be treated. We will faithfully, and without bias, honor our obligations to the community.
  • Integrity – We are committed to the highest standards of honesty and ethical conduct, which are the cornerstones of our profession. We will uphold the public trust and our commitment to our core values.
  • Dedication – To the organization, each other, our families, and the citizens we serve, and having an unquestionable work ethic.
  • Excellence – There is always room for improvement—and that the never-ending search for improvement leads to excellence. We aim for excellence in everything we do.

 

 

Goals

The goals of APD are:

  • to enforce the law
  • to prevent crime
  • to protect and serve the community
  • to respect the community
  • to build positive relationships with the community

THEORIES

Professional Model

The Professional (or Traditional) Model of policing was rooted in the idea that law enforcement is the primary role for police officers. It was designed and implemented by August Volmer of the Berkeley Police Department in California in the early 20th century. This model presented uniformed officers as unified service providers, and any community response outside of law enforcement was a form of corruption within the department. The police were to be separate from the community in order to maintain professionalism (Kessler, 2019).

Furthermore, departments should be hierarchically structured with a clear chain of command and a centralized control center. Officers receive civil service protections like job security and merit based hiring and promotional advancement. They use the most recent available technology and prefer larger jurisdictions to smaller ones (Kessler, 2019).

Operations in a Professional Model are based on deterrence theories. They seek to apprehend and punish criminals to deter future crime. Their strategies are based on rapid responses to calls in order to catch criminals in the act, criminals fear being caught during commission of a criminal act, and follow up investigations will lead to the capture of perpetrators. Because of the rapid and thorough nature of police response, criminals will be deterred from committing crimes (Kessler, 2019).

Furthermore, Kessler (2019) explains that the view of police in a Professional Model is that they are experts. Citizens and politicians alike need not assist or meddle in policing. The main divisions within a Professional department are Patrol (divided geographically), Investigations (divided by type of crime, Support Services (records, inventory, dispatch), and Professional Standards (recruitment, training, and internal affairs). Despite the attempt to be professional in theory, the model comes under much scrutiny in practice.

As it turns out, isolating police from their community comes at a high social cost. A number of court challenges and presidential commissions were presented beginning in the 1950s. The legal arguments against the Professional Model included violations of the Constitutional rights of citizens through aggressive deterrence policies resulting in the implementation of community relations unites. The presidential commissions put substantial blame on the LAPD for mishandling racially charged riots in the 1960s. The charges were that white police officer – the majority of officers at the time – would either abuse or neglect minorities in the community (Kessler, 2019).

The biggest blow to the Professional Model is its ineffectiveness at preventing or lowering crime rates. With the implementation of national crime tracking data in the Uniformed Crime Report (UCR), the FBI was able to track crime rates across the country. Funding and research from government and private industries increased, and the Professional Model came under more intense scrutiny (Kessler, 2019). Between the violation of Constitutional rights and poor police perception in minority communities – especially among Blacks – a reform movement began to take shape. The era of the Professional Model was coming to an end.

Reform Models

Because of the failure of the Professional Model to engage with the community and lower crime, several reforms were implemented. Unfortunately, there were very few successes among the successors. According to Brown (2012), these included:

  1. Problem-Oriented Policing – now known as Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment, otherwise known as S.A.R.A.
  2. Broken Windows Policing – a focus on police saturation of high crime neighborhoods
  3. Intelligence-Led Policing – data driven prevention
  4. Team Policing – decentralization of control, emphasis on specialization, participatory management, and community involvement in police operations

The successful elements of these programs would eventually evolve into Community Policing (Kessler, 2019).

Community Policing Model

The studies, commissions, research, and elements of previous reforms led to the development of the primary challenger to the Professional Model – the Community Policing Model. The role of the police as they relate to other legal institutions (like prisons and courts) and the community is incredibly important. Proponents argue that implementation of Community Policing in 80% of precincts has created a misunderstanding that Community Policing is a program. This is not a problem of policy, but of philosophy (Brown, 2012). Thus, a shift in mindset is necessary for a true policing reform. The best way to change hearts and minds is to provide evidence of effectiveness.

Brown (2012) defines Community Policing as “a collaborative partnership between the police and law-abiding citizens designed to prevent crime, arrest offenders, solve neighborhood problems and improve the quality of life in the community” (p. 150). One of the changes under Community Policing is the encouragement for officers to get to know the people in their areas. Officers should be visible and work with locals between 911 calls. They seek to improve perceptions of policing and quality of life in their neighborhoods, as well as deter crime through visibility and community engagement.

Rather than permanent positions within the department, staff at all levels are held accountable to the citizens they are charged to protect. The traditionalist view of a military-style bureaucracy is remade into a participatory management style. Though Community Policing shares with its Professional predecessor the desire to prevent, reduce, and solve crimes, it differs in its focus on solving the underlying problems in the neighborhoods and promotes a state of peace within them.

The six principles of Community Policing according to Brown (2012) are:

  1. A proactive rather than reactive response to community problems
  2. A partnership between the police, public, and private agencies.
  3. Based on a set of values
  4. A focus on delivery of police services on the neighborhood level
  5. Accountability to residents in neighborhoods
  6. Sharing power with the people

In order to implement Community Policing there need to be phases viewed as a continuum in order to evolve traditional policing practices into the Community Model. This begins with a program phase that consists of small, targeted teams of officers that focus on problem solving in neighborhoods. The second is the style development phase in which a set of values are created to define standards for police responses. The third phase is institutionalization which changes basic systems of the police agency from top to bottom to fit the model. Once implemented, how effective is Community Policing?

Community Policing improves police support from both the government and the community. These strategies also help reduce fear of the police in the community. Furthermore, there is evidence to support that implementation of Community Policing also reduces and/or prevents crime in areas that utilize it (Brown 2012). These are but some of the reasons why I believe that Community Policing strategies should be implemented in Akron, OH.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES

Whether agency changes are like the meteor that immediately destroyed the dinosaurs or a slow evolution, strategies must be implemented to affect change. The first seismic shift should be to move the focus from reactionary incident-by-incident to proactive community policing (Sparrow, 1994). This can be done through using various phases of implementation.

Chronological Phases

This phase analyzes the order of circumstances that led to change (Sparrow, 1994). There was likely some social pressure in the environment that spawned a number of potential corrections that went through a competition in which the preferred method of adaptation emerged. In our case, distrust of police and increases in violent crime put pressure on the agency to make significant changes. When comparing traditional policing to community policing, it seems that the failures of the former gave the latter the adaptive advantages necessary to claim victory.

Sparrow (1994) lists shaking loose, experimentation, setting direction, and finally implementation as the stages of this phase. Agencies must shake loose from tradition before the remaining stages can take shape. They must then experiment with new ideas or policies until a new path emerges and management is able to set a direction for the agency to follow. Finally, the executives implement the direction agency wide. Those who contributed to innovation should be rewarded for their hard work.

Piece-by-Piece Phase

An alternative phase presented by Sparrow (1994) is an analytical approach that takes each piece of the organization apart for study, then reassembling the best parts to create a more perfect whole. This is a more anatomical look at the agency as a body with individual components that work in conjunction to make up a functioning whole. If each part of the body is working at its maximum capability, the entire organism flourishes.

Relationship Phases

Finally, Sparrow (1994) stresses the importance of relationships. This considers the relationship between agency and environment. It seeks to transform relationships from a top-down predatory approach to a reciprocal symbiotic one. This begins with internal relationships where traditional hierarchy gives way to supervisory accountability with subordinates. A similar relationship is created between the agency and community.

Not only should this partnership model be applied to governing and law enforcement agencies, but with the community itself. Citizens become empowered when they are treated with respect and their concerns are no longer ignored. They are more likely to comply and work with police officers to prevent or solve crimes in the area.

Implementation

We must begin with an assessment of the department resulting in a plan of action (Brown, 2012). The strengths and deficiencies should be accurately measured and analyzed, and steps should be taken to improve what works and eliminate what does not. This process should be continually applied throughout the duration of the policies or when a new one is proposed and/or adopted. This flexibility allows us to account for changes in personnel, local economy, and demographics of the city itself.

Implementation needs to be systemic – the entire organization must implement changes simultaneously at all levels. Clearly stated goals, understanding of the goals, and teamwork are essential elements here. Flexibility is also important due to the nature of change presented throughout the agency, government, and community. Goals need to be met, but the means can vary to some extent. Rigidity might work in a traditional model, but it is detrimental to Community Policing.

The Action Plan

Communication is vital to the success of program implementation. Transparency with internal agency communication is a priority, but building new relationships with the community should also be the first step. This is necessary for establishing credibility and regaining trust in the community. This is a top down approach beginning with leaders. Officers become ambassadors for the department, so their trust in leadership and compliance with the stated goals must be absolute (Brown, 2012). That way, citizens will see a unified force out in the community and will follow suit.

The second step is community partnership. The public voice is needed for identifying problems, coming up with strategies, developing policies, and evaluating results (Brown, 2012). Giving a voice to the voiceless will empower the community and improve the newly-formed relationships with the public. As partners, rather than consumers, this new method of gaining public trust will generate social capital – the third step.

Social capital is a goodwill currency exchanged between the agency and the public. It is built on trust and is necessary for Community Policing. By including the public in agency matters, we can broaden participation and increase diversity. The police must embrace racial, religious, gender, economic, political, and sexual diversity in the community (Brown, 2012). When enough social capital is developed, the police will be able to trade information and good will with the community.

The final steps revolves around leadership. Leaders should lead. That means they must be at the front of the line, not tucked away in the back. They must be visible, present, and active in the agency and the community. Leaders should develop a broad vision that includes specific goals and strategies. Clear boundaries for goal attainment must be set. This can be done by creating lists of tasks ranked in order of priority. This allows for a clear representation of goals so that all involved can see that task completion is attainable and worth pursuing (Brown, 2012).

Furthermore, leadership roles should be clearly defined and there must be a change in mindset from the police chiefs on down. Treating others as individuals, keeping pace with changing communities, and working to continuously improve management are necessary changes. This might not be a natural process, so leaders must be vigilant in adapting to new frameworks and policies (Brown, 2012). They must accept both innovation and failure, for the latter is often necessary for the former to succeed.

Notice that the first three steps – new relationships with the public, community partnerships, and social capital – are rooted in interactions between the agency and the public. This is the crux of Community Policing. It can only be successful when leadership goes all-in on the changes. Three parts community; one part leadership. This is a radical departure from traditional policing, but one that must be implemented if we are to protect, serve, and heal our communities.

POTENTIAL OBSTACLES

Resistance to change is inevitable (Sparrow, 1994), especially when Community Policing requires a dramatic philosophical shift (Brown, 2012). Some opponents cite tradition as the superior method. Some resist on the basis that “unelected officials” have no business determining policing policies. The take every opportunity to exploit a perceived failure of a new policy to undermine the entire process. They want to “get back to basics” (Sparrow, 1994, p. 132) of rapid response, detective work, and arresting offenders.

Furthermore, there are additional concerns over allocation of resources. This is a reasonable resistance for any large agency. New programs require new allocations. A cost-effective balance must be achieved. The focus on prevention rather than an incident-by-incident response might seem as though funding is being taken away from traditional police work to a more theoretical model. Prevention is much more difficult to measure than response. We must work to provide as much data on the effectiveness of proactive Community Policing as possible.

In addition to inner-agency concerns, there might also be a problem of community skepticism. An immediate increase in police presence in a neighborhood might lead to citizens wondering if they are under the watchful eye of a police state. It might increase apprehension or hostility when dealing with police. This is why demonstrated respect and open dialogue between street officers and residents is vital, especially in the early stages of implementation.

When breaking down the segregated walls of the bureaucratic hierarchy, corruption might creep into the agency (Sparrow, 1994). With fewer eyes on interactions between departments, there are fewer checks and balances. However, this problem is mitigated by other means. The merit based Community Policing model and allowing bad actors to be fired easier means that performance is analyzed and punished more severely than in the traditional model. Furthermore, accountability to citizens who are already skeptical ensures that a watchful eye remains on the agency even without bureaucratic oversight.

These are valid concerns for those who are apprehensive to change, but change is necessary. I believe that successful implementation is possible, and the benefits outweigh the potential problems. Our goal is not perfection, but improvement. The crime rate in Akron, OH is unacceptable. Community relations between the police and the public are strained and the Professional model has been weighed, measured, and found wanting. If we can control the narrative, change mindsets within APD, and record positive, effective results, the those who struggle with new procedures might be persuaded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Brown, L.P. (2012). Policing in the 21st century: Community policing. Bloomington, IN:

AuthorHouse.

City Data. (2017). Crime rate in Akron, Ohio. Retrieved from http://www.city-

data.com/crime/crime-Akron-Ohio.html

FBI. (2017). Crime in the United States. FBI: UCR. Retrieved from https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-

the-u.s/2017/crime-in-the-u.s.-2017/topic-pages/tables/table-4

Kessler, D. (2019). Module 3 overview [Lecture Notes].  Retrieved from https://learn.kent.edu

Sparrow, M.K. (1994). Imposing duties. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AKRON POLICING STRATEGY PLAN

By Alex Simmons

Fall, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Akron Policing Strategy Plan

PRIORITY PROBLEMS

As of 2017, overall crime in Akron, OH is 1.7 times higher than the national average. There has been a sharp spike in violent crime, especially the murder rate which has more than doubled since 2008. Violent crime rates in the area are more than twice the national average (City Data, 2017; FBI, 2017). Although crime rates across the nation have decreased since the mid-1990s, prevention and elimination of crime should be the primary goals of this department.

Furthermore, there is a growing distrust between police and the public we serve. Community relationships are deteriorating, and citizens are closing their doors when we come knocking for witness statements. The response from the police department is to spend less time in those neighborhoods which then increases the rift between both parties. The effects of this cycle of disrespect are manifested by high crime in areas that the police ignore. This cycle must be broken.

The following strategy plan involves investigating prominent policing theories, strategies for improving our department, and implementation of these strategies. We must assess what we have been doing and what we could do to improve. There are many valid criticisms from community members and other agency with whom we work. There will be opposing opinions from all sides, but we must resist the urge to maintain the status-quo in order to quell negative voices. Our department depends on it. Our community depends on it. Other communities who look to us to be leaders within our jurisdiction and might consider implementing similar strategies depend on it.

 

 

MISSION STATEMENT

The Mission of the members of the Akron Police Department is to enhance the quality of life, strengthen our neighborhoods and deliver superior services with professionalism, respect, integrity, dedication and excellence by working in partnership with our neighborhoods and community.

VALUES AND GOALS

Values

The Akron Police Department (APD) takes PRIDE in our commitment to our community. The APD values are as follows:

  • Professionalism – Our conduct and demeanor display the highest standard of personal and organizational excellence. As a professional organization, we are guided by the “Law Enforcement Code of Conduct.”
  • Respect – We recognize the authority we hold and will treat others as we would like to be treated. We will faithfully, and without bias, honor our obligations to the community.
  • Integrity – We are committed to the highest standards of honesty and ethical conduct, which are the cornerstones of our profession. We will uphold the public trust and our commitment to our core values.
  • Dedication – To the organization, each other, our families, and the citizens we serve, and having an unquestionable work ethic.
  • Excellence – There is always room for improvement—and that the never-ending search for improvement leads to excellence. We aim for excellence in everything we do.

 

 

Goals

The goals of APD are:

  • to enforce the law
  • to prevent crime
  • to protect and serve the community
  • to respect the community
  • to build positive relationships with the community

THEORIES

Professional Model

The Professional (or Traditional) Model of policing was rooted in the idea that law enforcement is the primary role for police officers. It was designed and implemented by August Volmer of the Berkeley Police Department in California in the early 20th century. This model presented uniformed officers as unified service providers, and any community response outside of law enforcement was a form of corruption within the department. The police were to be separate from the community in order to maintain professionalism (Kessler, 2019).

Furthermore, departments should be hierarchically structured with a clear chain of command and a centralized control center. Officers receive civil service protections like job security and merit based hiring and promotional advancement. They use the most recent available technology and prefer larger jurisdictions to smaller ones (Kessler, 2019).

Operations in a Professional Model are based on deterrence theories. They seek to apprehend and punish criminals to deter future crime. Their strategies are based on rapid responses to calls in order to catch criminals in the act, criminals fear being caught during commission of a criminal act, and follow up investigations will lead to the capture of perpetrators. Because of the rapid and thorough nature of police response, criminals will be deterred from committing crimes (Kessler, 2019).

Furthermore, Kessler (2019) explains that the view of police in a Professional Model is that they are experts. Citizens and politicians alike need not assist or meddle in policing. The main divisions within a Professional department are Patrol (divided geographically), Investigations (divided by type of crime, Support Services (records, inventory, dispatch), and Professional Standards (recruitment, training, and internal affairs). Despite the attempt to be professional in theory, the model comes under much scrutiny in practice.

As it turns out, isolating police from their community comes at a high social cost. A number of court challenges and presidential commissions were presented beginning in the 1950s. The legal arguments against the Professional Model included violations of the Constitutional rights of citizens through aggressive deterrence policies resulting in the implementation of community relations unites. The presidential commissions put substantial blame on the LAPD for mishandling racially charged riots in the 1960s. The charges were that white police officer – the majority of officers at the time – would either abuse or neglect minorities in the community (Kessler, 2019).

The biggest blow to the Professional Model is its ineffectiveness at preventing or lowering crime rates. With the implementation of national crime tracking data in the Uniformed Crime Report (UCR), the FBI was able to track crime rates across the country. Funding and research from government and private industries increased, and the Professional Model came under more intense scrutiny (Kessler, 2019). Between the violation of Constitutional rights and poor police perception in minority communities – especially among Blacks – a reform movement began to take shape. The era of the Professional Model was coming to an end.

Reform Models

Because of the failure of the Professional Model to engage with the community and lower crime, several reforms were implemented. Unfortunately, there were very few successes among the successors. According to Brown (2012), these included:

  1. Problem-Oriented Policing – now known as Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment, otherwise known as S.A.R.A.
  2. Broken Windows Policing – a focus on police saturation of high crime neighborhoods
  3. Intelligence-Led Policing – data driven prevention
  4. Team Policing – decentralization of control, emphasis on specialization, participatory management, and community involvement in police operations

The successful elements of these programs would eventually evolve into Community Policing (Kessler, 2019).

Community Policing Model

The studies, commissions, research, and elements of previous reforms led to the development of the primary challenger to the Professional Model – the Community Policing Model. The role of the police as they relate to other legal institutions (like prisons and courts) and the community is incredibly important. Proponents argue that implementation of Community Policing in 80% of precincts has created a misunderstanding that Community Policing is a program. This is not a problem of policy, but of philosophy (Brown, 2012). Thus, a shift in mindset is necessary for a true policing reform. The best way to change hearts and minds is to provide evidence of effectiveness.

Brown (2012) defines Community Policing as “a collaborative partnership between the police and law-abiding citizens designed to prevent crime, arrest offenders, solve neighborhood problems and improve the quality of life in the community” (p. 150). One of the changes under Community Policing is the encouragement for officers to get to know the people in their areas. Officers should be visible and work with locals between 911 calls. They seek to improve perceptions of policing and quality of life in their neighborhoods, as well as deter crime through visibility and community engagement.

Rather than permanent positions within the department, staff at all levels are held accountable to the citizens they are charged to protect. The traditionalist view of a military-style bureaucracy is remade into a participatory management style. Though Community Policing shares with its Professional predecessor the desire to prevent, reduce, and solve crimes, it differs in its focus on solving the underlying problems in the neighborhoods and promotes a state of peace within them.

The six principles of Community Policing according to Brown (2012) are:

  1. A proactive rather than reactive response to community problems
  2. A partnership between the police, public, and private agencies.
  3. Based on a set of values
  4. A focus on delivery of police services on the neighborhood level
  5. Accountability to residents in neighborhoods
  6. Sharing power with the people

In order to implement Community Policing there need to be phases viewed as a continuum in order to evolve traditional policing practices into the Community Model. This begins with a program phase that consists of small, targeted teams of officers that focus on problem solving in neighborhoods. The second is the style development phase in which a set of values are created to define standards for police responses. The third phase is institutionalization which changes basic systems of the police agency from top to bottom to fit the model. Once implemented, how effective is Community Policing?

Community Policing improves police support from both the government and the community. These strategies also help reduce fear of the police in the community. Furthermore, there is evidence to support that implementation of Community Policing also reduces and/or prevents crime in areas that utilize it (Brown 2012). These are but some of the reasons why I believe that Community Policing strategies should be implemented in Akron, OH.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES

Whether agency changes are like the meteor that immediately destroyed the dinosaurs or a slow evolution, strategies must be implemented to affect change. The first seismic shift should be to move the focus from reactionary incident-by-incident to proactive community policing (Sparrow, 1994). This can be done through using various phases of implementation.

Chronological Phases

This phase analyzes the order of circumstances that led to change (Sparrow, 1994). There was likely some social pressure in the environment that spawned a number of potential corrections that went through a competition in which the preferred method of adaptation emerged. In our case, distrust of police and increases in violent crime put pressure on the agency to make significant changes. When comparing traditional policing to community policing, it seems that the failures of the former gave the latter the adaptive advantages necessary to claim victory.

Sparrow (1994) lists shaking loose, experimentation, setting direction, and finally implementation as the stages of this phase. Agencies must shake loose from tradition before the remaining stages can take shape. They must then experiment with new ideas or policies until a new path emerges and management is able to set a direction for the agency to follow. Finally, the executives implement the direction agency wide. Those who contributed to innovation should be rewarded for their hard work.

Piece-by-Piece Phase

An alternative phase presented by Sparrow (1994) is an analytical approach that takes each piece of the organization apart for study, then reassembling the best parts to create a more perfect whole. This is a more anatomical look at the agency as a body with individual components that work in conjunction to make up a functioning whole. If each part of the body is working at its maximum capability, the entire organism flourishes.

Relationship Phases

Finally, Sparrow (1994) stresses the importance of relationships. This considers the relationship between agency and environment. It seeks to transform relationships from a top-down predatory approach to a reciprocal symbiotic one. This begins with internal relationships where traditional hierarchy gives way to supervisory accountability with subordinates. A similar relationship is created between the agency and community.

Not only should this partnership model be applied to governing and law enforcement agencies, but with the community itself. Citizens become empowered when they are treated with respect and their concerns are no longer ignored. They are more likely to comply and work with police officers to prevent or solve crimes in the area.

Implementation

We must begin with an assessment of the department resulting in a plan of action (Brown, 2012). The strengths and deficiencies should be accurately measured and analyzed, and steps should be taken to improve what works and eliminate what does not. This process should be continually applied throughout the duration of the policies or when a new one is proposed and/or adopted. This flexibility allows us to account for changes in personnel, local economy, and demographics of the city itself.

Implementation needs to be systemic – the entire organization must implement changes simultaneously at all levels. Clearly stated goals, understanding of the goals, and teamwork are essential elements here. Flexibility is also important due to the nature of change presented throughout the agency, government, and community. Goals need to be met, but the means can vary to some extent. Rigidity might work in a traditional model, but it is detrimental to Community Policing.

The Action Plan

Communication is vital to the success of program implementation. Transparency with internal agency communication is a priority, but building new relationships with the community should also be the first step. This is necessary for establishing credibility and regaining trust in the community. This is a top down approach beginning with leaders. Officers become ambassadors for the department, so their trust in leadership and compliance with the stated goals must be absolute (Brown, 2012). That way, citizens will see a unified force out in the community and will follow suit.

The second step is community partnership. The public voice is needed for identifying problems, coming up with strategies, developing policies, and evaluating results (Brown, 2012). Giving a voice to the voiceless will empower the community and improve the newly-formed relationships with the public. As partners, rather than consumers, this new method of gaining public trust will generate social capital – the third step.

Social capital is a goodwill currency exchanged between the agency and the public. It is built on trust and is necessary for Community Policing. By including the public in agency matters, we can broaden participation and increase diversity. The police must embrace racial, religious, gender, economic, political, and sexual diversity in the community (Brown, 2012). When enough social capital is developed, the police will be able to trade information and good will with the community.

The final steps revolves around leadership. Leaders should lead. That means they must be at the front of the line, not tucked away in the back. They must be visible, present, and active in the agency and the community. Leaders should develop a broad vision that includes specific goals and strategies. Clear boundaries for goal attainment must be set. This can be done by creating lists of tasks ranked in order of priority. This allows for a clear representation of goals so that all involved can see that task completion is attainable and worth pursuing (Brown, 2012).

Furthermore, leadership roles should be clearly defined and there must be a change in mindset from the police chiefs on down. Treating others as individuals, keeping pace with changing communities, and working to continuously improve management are necessary changes. This might not be a natural process, so leaders must be vigilant in adapting to new frameworks and policies (Brown, 2012). They must accept both innovation and failure, for the latter is often necessary for the former to succeed.

Notice that the first three steps – new relationships with the public, community partnerships, and social capital – are rooted in interactions between the agency and the public. This is the crux of Community Policing. It can only be successful when leadership goes all-in on the changes. Three parts community; one part leadership. This is a radical departure from traditional policing, but one that must be implemented if we are to protect, serve, and heal our communities.

POTENTIAL OBSTACLES

Resistance to change is inevitable (Sparrow, 1994), especially when Community Policing requires a dramatic philosophical shift (Brown, 2012). Some opponents cite tradition as the superior method. Some resist on the basis that “unelected officials” have no business determining policing policies. The take every opportunity to exploit a perceived failure of a new policy to undermine the entire process. They want to “get back to basics” (Sparrow, 1994, p. 132) of rapid response, detective work, and arresting offenders.

Furthermore, there are additional concerns over allocation of resources. This is a reasonable resistance for any large agency. New programs require new allocations. A cost-effective balance must be achieved. The focus on prevention rather than an incident-by-incident response might seem as though funding is being taken away from traditional police work to a more theoretical model. Prevention is much more difficult to measure than response. We must work to provide as much data on the effectiveness of proactive Community Policing as possible.

In addition to inner-agency concerns, there might also be a problem of community skepticism. An immediate increase in police presence in a neighborhood might lead to citizens wondering if they are under the watchful eye of a police state. It might increase apprehension or hostility when dealing with police. This is why demonstrated respect and open dialogue between street officers and residents is vital, especially in the early stages of implementation.

When breaking down the segregated walls of the bureaucratic hierarchy, corruption might creep into the agency (Sparrow, 1994). With fewer eyes on interactions between departments, there are fewer checks and balances. However, this problem is mitigated by other means. The merit based Community Policing model and allowing bad actors to be fired easier means that performance is analyzed and punished more severely than in the traditional model. Furthermore, accountability to citizens who are already skeptical ensures that a watchful eye remains on the agency even without bureaucratic oversight.

These are valid concerns for those who are apprehensive to change, but change is necessary. I believe that successful implementation is possible, and the benefits outweigh the potential problems. Our goal is not perfection, but improvement. The crime rate in Akron, OH is unacceptable. Community relations between the police and the public are strained and the Professional model has been weighed, measured, and found wanting. If we can control the narrative, change mindsets within APD, and record positive, effective results, the those who struggle with new procedures might be persuaded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Brown, L.P. (2012). Policing in the 21st century: Community policing. Bloomington, IN:

AuthorHouse.

City Data. (2017). Crime rate in Akron, Ohio. Retrieved from http://www.city-

data.com/crime/crime-Akron-Ohio.html

FBI. (2017). Crime in the United States. FBI: UCR. Retrieved from https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-

the-u.s/2017/crime-in-the-u.s.-2017/topic-pages/tables/table-4

Kessler, D. (2019). Module 3 overview [Lecture Notes].  Retrieved from https://learn.kent.edu

Sparrow, M.K. (1994). Imposing duties. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AKRON POLICING STRATEGY PLAN

By Alex Simmons

Fall, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Akron Policing Strategy Plan

PRIORITY PROBLEMS

As of 2017, overall crime in Akron, OH is 1.7 times higher than the national average. There has been a sharp spike in violent crime, especially the murder rate which has more than doubled since 2008. Violent crime rates in the area are more than twice the national average (City Data, 2017; FBI, 2017). Although crime rates across the nation have decreased since the mid-1990s, prevention and elimination of crime should be the primary goals of this department.

Furthermore, there is a growing distrust between police and the public we serve. Community relationships are deteriorating, and citizens are closing their doors when we come knocking for witness statements. The response from the police department is to spend less time in those neighborhoods which then increases the rift between both parties. The effects of this cycle of disrespect are manifested by high crime in areas that the police ignore. This cycle must be broken.

The following strategy plan involves investigating prominent policing theories, strategies for improving our department, and implementation of these strategies. We must assess what we have been doing and what we could do to improve. There are many valid criticisms from community members and other agency with whom we work. There will be opposing opinions from all sides, but we must resist the urge to maintain the status-quo in order to quell negative voices. Our department depends on it. Our community depends on it. Other communities who look to us to be leaders within our jurisdiction and might consider implementing similar strategies depend on it.

 

 

MISSION STATEMENT

The Mission of the members of the Akron Police Department is to enhance the quality of life, strengthen our neighborhoods and deliver superior services with professionalism, respect, integrity, dedication and excellence by working in partnership with our neighborhoods and community.

VALUES AND GOALS

Values

The Akron Police Department (APD) takes PRIDE in our commitment to our community. The APD values are as follows:

  • Professionalism – Our conduct and demeanor display the highest standard of personal and organizational excellence. As a professional organization, we are guided by the “Law Enforcement Code of Conduct.”
  • Respect – We recognize the authority we hold and will treat others as we would like to be treated. We will faithfully, and without bias, honor our obligations to the community.
  • Integrity – We are committed to the highest standards of honesty and ethical conduct, which are the cornerstones of our profession. We will uphold the public trust and our commitment to our core values.
  • Dedication – To the organization, each other, our families, and the citizens we serve, and having an unquestionable work ethic.
  • Excellence – There is always room for improvement—and that the never-ending search for improvement leads to excellence. We aim for excellence in everything we do.

 

 

Goals

The goals of APD are:

  • to enforce the law
  • to prevent crime
  • to protect and serve the community
  • to respect the community
  • to build positive relationships with the community

THEORIES

Professional Model

The Professional (or Traditional) Model of policing was rooted in the idea that law enforcement is the primary role for police officers. It was designed and implemented by August Volmer of the Berkeley Police Department in California in the early 20th century. This model presented uniformed officers as unified service providers, and any community response outside of law enforcement was a form of corruption within the department. The police were to be separate from the community in order to maintain professionalism (Kessler, 2019).

Furthermore, departments should be hierarchically structured with a clear chain of command and a centralized control center. Officers receive civil service protections like job security and merit based hiring and promotional advancement. They use the most recent available technology and prefer larger jurisdictions to smaller ones (Kessler, 2019).

Operations in a Professional Model are based on deterrence theories. They seek to apprehend and punish criminals to deter future crime. Their strategies are based on rapid responses to calls in order to catch criminals in the act, criminals fear being caught during commission of a criminal act, and follow up investigations will lead to the capture of perpetrators. Because of the rapid and thorough nature of police response, criminals will be deterred from committing crimes (Kessler, 2019).

Furthermore, Kessler (2019) explains that the view of police in a Professional Model is that they are experts. Citizens and politicians alike need not assist or meddle in policing. The main divisions within a Professional department are Patrol (divided geographically), Investigations (divided by type of crime, Support Services (records, inventory, dispatch), and Professional Standards (recruitment, training, and internal affairs). Despite the attempt to be professional in theory, the model comes under much scrutiny in practice.

As it turns out, isolating police from their community comes at a high social cost. A number of court challenges and presidential commissions were presented beginning in the 1950s. The legal arguments against the Professional Model included violations of the Constitutional rights of citizens through aggressive deterrence policies resulting in the implementation of community relations unites. The presidential commissions put substantial blame on the LAPD for mishandling racially charged riots in the 1960s. The charges were that white police officer – the majority of officers at the time – would either abuse or neglect minorities in the community (Kessler, 2019).

The biggest blow to the Professional Model is its ineffectiveness at preventing or lowering crime rates. With the implementation of national crime tracking data in the Uniformed Crime Report (UCR), the FBI was able to track crime rates across the country. Funding and research from government and private industries increased, and the Professional Model came under more intense scrutiny (Kessler, 2019). Between the violation of Constitutional rights and poor police perception in minority communities – especially among Blacks – a reform movement began to take shape. The era of the Professional Model was coming to an end.

Reform Models

Because of the failure of the Professional Model to engage with the community and lower crime, several reforms were implemented. Unfortunately, there were very few successes among the successors. According to Brown (2012), these included:

  1. Problem-Oriented Policing – now known as Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment, otherwise known as S.A.R.A.
  2. Broken Windows Policing – a focus on police saturation of high crime neighborhoods
  3. Intelligence-Led Policing – data driven prevention
  4. Team Policing – decentralization of control, emphasis on specialization, participatory management, and community involvement in police operations

The successful elements of these programs would eventually evolve into Community Policing (Kessler, 2019).

Community Policing Model

The studies, commissions, research, and elements of previous reforms led to the development of the primary challenger to the Professional Model – the Community Policing Model. The role of the police as they relate to other legal institutions (like prisons and courts) and the community is incredibly important. Proponents argue that implementation of Community Policing in 80% of precincts has created a misunderstanding that Community Policing is a program. This is not a problem of policy, but of philosophy (Brown, 2012). Thus, a shift in mindset is necessary for a true policing reform. The best way to change hearts and minds is to provide evidence of effectiveness.

Brown (2012) defines Community Policing as “a collaborative partnership between the police and law-abiding citizens designed to prevent crime, arrest offenders, solve neighborhood problems and improve the quality of life in the community” (p. 150). One of the changes under Community Policing is the encouragement for officers to get to know the people in their areas. Officers should be visible and work with locals between 911 calls. They seek to improve perceptions of policing and quality of life in their neighborhoods, as well as deter crime through visibility and community engagement.

Rather than permanent positions within the department, staff at all levels are held accountable to the citizens they are charged to protect. The traditionalist view of a military-style bureaucracy is remade into a participatory management style. Though Community Policing shares with its Professional predecessor the desire to prevent, reduce, and solve crimes, it differs in its focus on solving the underlying problems in the neighborhoods and promotes a state of peace within them.

The six principles of Community Policing according to Brown (2012) are:

  1. A proactive rather than reactive response to community problems
  2. A partnership between the police, public, and private agencies.
  3. Based on a set of values
  4. A focus on delivery of police services on the neighborhood level
  5. Accountability to residents in neighborhoods
  6. Sharing power with the people

In order to implement Community Policing there need to be phases viewed as a continuum in order to evolve traditional policing practices into the Community Model. This begins with a program phase that consists of small, targeted teams of officers that focus on problem solving in neighborhoods. The second is the style development phase in which a set of values are created to define standards for police responses. The third phase is institutionalization which changes basic systems of the police agency from top to bottom to fit the model. Once implemented, how effective is Community Policing?

Community Policing improves police support from both the government and the community. These strategies also help reduce fear of the police in the community. Furthermore, there is evidence to support that implementation of Community Policing also reduces and/or prevents crime in areas that utilize it (Brown 2012). These are but some of the reasons why I believe that Community Policing strategies should be implemented in Akron, OH.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES

Whether agency changes are like the meteor that immediately destroyed the dinosaurs or a slow evolution, strategies must be implemented to affect change. The first seismic shift should be to move the focus from reactionary incident-by-incident to proactive community policing (Sparrow, 1994). This can be done through using various phases of implementation.

Chronological Phases

This phase analyzes the order of circumstances that led to change (Sparrow, 1994). There was likely some social pressure in the environment that spawned a number of potential corrections that went through a competition in which the preferred method of adaptation emerged. In our case, distrust of police and increases in violent crime put pressure on the agency to make significant changes. When comparing traditional policing to community policing, it seems that the failures of the former gave the latter the adaptive advantages necessary to claim victory.

Sparrow (1994) lists shaking loose, experimentation, setting direction, and finally implementation as the stages of this phase. Agencies must shake loose from tradition before the remaining stages can take shape. They must then experiment with new ideas or policies until a new path emerges and management is able to set a direction for the agency to follow. Finally, the executives implement the direction agency wide. Those who contributed to innovation should be rewarded for their hard work.

Piece-by-Piece Phase

An alternative phase presented by Sparrow (1994) is an analytical approach that takes each piece of the organization apart for study, then reassembling the best parts to create a more perfect whole. This is a more anatomical look at the agency as a body with individual components that work in conjunction to make up a functioning whole. If each part of the body is working at its maximum capability, the entire organism flourishes.

Relationship Phases

Finally, Sparrow (1994) stresses the importance of relationships. This considers the relationship between agency and environment. It seeks to transform relationships from a top-down predatory approach to a reciprocal symbiotic one. This begins with internal relationships where traditional hierarchy gives way to supervisory accountability with subordinates. A similar relationship is created between the agency and community.

Not only should this partnership model be applied to governing and law enforcement agencies, but with the community itself. Citizens become empowered when they are treated with respect and their concerns are no longer ignored. They are more likely to comply and work with police officers to prevent or solve crimes in the area.

Implementation

We must begin with an assessment of the department resulting in a plan of action (Brown, 2012). The strengths and deficiencies should be accurately measured and analyzed, and steps should be taken to improve what works and eliminate what does not. This process should be continually applied throughout the duration of the policies or when a new one is proposed and/or adopted. This flexibility allows us to account for changes in personnel, local economy, and demographics of the city itself.

Implementation needs to be systemic – the entire organization must implement changes simultaneously at all levels. Clearly stated goals, understanding of the goals, and teamwork are essential elements here. Flexibility is also important due to the nature of change presented throughout the agency, government, and community. Goals need to be met, but the means can vary to some extent. Rigidity might work in a traditional model, but it is detrimental to Community Policing.

The Action Plan

Communication is vital to the success of program implementation. Transparency with internal agency communication is a priority, but building new relationships with the community should also be the first step. This is necessary for establishing credibility and regaining trust in the community. This is a top down approach beginning with leaders. Officers become ambassadors for the department, so their trust in leadership and compliance with the stated goals must be absolute (Brown, 2012). That way, citizens will see a unified force out in the community and will follow suit.

The second step is community partnership. The public voice is needed for identifying problems, coming up with strategies, developing policies, and evaluating results (Brown, 2012). Giving a voice to the voiceless will empower the community and improve the newly-formed relationships with the public. As partners, rather than consumers, this new method of gaining public trust will generate social capital – the third step.

Social capital is a goodwill currency exchanged between the agency and the public. It is built on trust and is necessary for Community Policing. By including the public in agency matters, we can broaden participation and increase diversity. The police must embrace racial, religious, gender, economic, political, and sexual diversity in the community (Brown, 2012). When enough social capital is developed, the police will be able to trade information and good will with the community.

The final steps revolves around leadership. Leaders should lead. That means they must be at the front of the line, not tucked away in the back. They must be visible, present, and active in the agency and the community. Leaders should develop a broad vision that includes specific goals and strategies. Clear boundaries for goal attainment must be set. This can be done by creating lists of tasks ranked in order of priority. This allows for a clear representation of goals so that all involved can see that task completion is attainable and worth pursuing (Brown, 2012).

Furthermore, leadership roles should be clearly defined and there must be a change in mindset from the police chiefs on down. Treating others as individuals, keeping pace with changing communities, and working to continuously improve management are necessary changes. This might not be a natural process, so leaders must be vigilant in adapting to new frameworks and policies (Brown, 2012). They must accept both innovation and failure, for the latter is often necessary for the former to succeed.

Notice that the first three steps – new relationships with the public, community partnerships, and social capital – are rooted in interactions between the agency and the public. This is the crux of Community Policing. It can only be successful when leadership goes all-in on the changes. Three parts community; one part leadership. This is a radical departure from traditional policing, but one that must be implemented if we are to protect, serve, and heal our communities.

POTENTIAL OBSTACLES

Resistance to change is inevitable (Sparrow, 1994), especially when Community Policing requires a dramatic philosophical shift (Brown, 2012). Some opponents cite tradition as the superior method. Some resist on the basis that “unelected officials” have no business determining policing policies. The take every opportunity to exploit a perceived failure of a new policy to undermine the entire process. They want to “get back to basics” (Sparrow, 1994, p. 132) of rapid response, detective work, and arresting offenders.

Furthermore, there are additional concerns over allocation of resources. This is a reasonable resistance for any large agency. New programs require new allocations. A cost-effective balance must be achieved. The focus on prevention rather than an incident-by-incident response might seem as though funding is being taken away from traditional police work to a more theoretical model. Prevention is much more difficult to measure than response. We must work to provide as much data on the effectiveness of proactive Community Policing as possible.

In addition to inner-agency concerns, there might also be a problem of community skepticism. An immediate increase in police presence in a neighborhood might lead to citizens wondering if they are under the watchful eye of a police state. It might increase apprehension or hostility when dealing with police. This is why demonstrated respect and open dialogue between street officers and residents is vital, especially in the early stages of implementation.

When breaking down the segregated walls of the bureaucratic hierarchy, corruption might creep into the agency (Sparrow, 1994). With fewer eyes on interactions between departments, there are fewer checks and balances. However, this problem is mitigated by other means. The merit based Community Policing model and allowing bad actors to be fired easier means that performance is analyzed and punished more severely than in the traditional model. Furthermore, accountability to citizens who are already skeptical ensures that a watchful eye remains on the agency even without bureaucratic oversight.

These are valid concerns for those who are apprehensive to change, but change is necessary. I believe that successful implementation is possible, and the benefits outweigh the potential problems. Our goal is not perfection, but improvement. The crime rate in Akron, OH is unacceptable. Community relations between the police and the public are strained and the Professional model has been weighed, measured, and found wanting. If we can control the narrative, change mindsets within APD, and record positive, effective results, the those who struggle with new procedures might be persuaded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Brown, L.P. (2012). Policing in the 21st century: Community policing. Bloomington, IN:

AuthorHouse.

City Data. (2017). Crime rate in Akron, Ohio. Retrieved from http://www.city-

data.com/crime/crime-Akron-Ohio.html

FBI. (2017). Crime in the United States. FBI: UCR. Retrieved from https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-

the-u.s/2017/crime-in-the-u.s.-2017/topic-pages/tables/table-4

Kessler, D. (2019). Module 3 overview [Lecture Notes].  Retrieved from https://learn.kent.edu

Sparrow, M.K. (1994). Imposing duties. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.