Policing in the United States faces a serious public relations problem. There is a lack of trust between the police and the public resulting in poor police – community relations. A study done by the Pew Research shows that there is a disconnect between the perceptions of the public and of police in regard to the work of police (Morin, Parker, Stepler, & Mercer, 2017). Much of this perception problem is due to a lack of engagement by the police into the communities that they serve. Law enforcement agencies need to find ways to engage with the communities they serve that shows the police service in a positive light and improves relations with the citizens they serve. Therefore, police services should foster community engagement to improve police – community relations.
There are several advantages to police services fostering an atmosphere of community engagement. One advantage is that it improves the process of providing solutions to the problems which the citizens and the police are seeing in the community. This leads to a reduction in crime, disorder, and anti-social behavior because these problems are being addressed in collaboration with the community. When the police services are successful in addressing the problems that they and the community are identifying during the engagement process, the community’s perception of police will be better, and the community will be more willing to support an increase in the availability of resources to the police services. For all of this to work successfully however requires a commitment by the police agency, the individual officers, and the community. And when done successfully, the result will be improved police – community relations.