Community policing and planning

Author: Rohe, William M; Adams, Richard E Arcury, Thomas A Source: American Planning Association. Journal of the American Planning Association 78-90 67, no. 1 (Winter 2001): p. 78-90 ISSN: 0194-4363 Number: 66571896 Copyright: Copyright American Planning Association Winter 2001

Community policing programs are being embraced by police departments across the country, and this has important implications for planners. Community police officers are being asked to engage in broad-based community problem solving and are adopting many of the goals and methods of community development planning. This article presents a definition of community policing and provides examples of community policing programs in two cities, Asheville and Greensboro, North Carolina. It also identifies the benefits of cooperation between planners and community police officers and presents findings from a research project on the implementation and impacts of community policing in the cities studied. Specific examples of how planners and community police officers have worked together to improve the quality of life in urban neighborhoods are also provided. The article concludes with a discussion of some of the obstacles to cooperation between planners and community police officers and! how they can be overcome.

A revolution is taking place in policing that has important implications for planners. This revolution is called community policing, and it brings police work into a domain traditionally inhabited by community planners. Police departments across the United States are creating community policing units and charging them with improving the quality of life in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. In a recent survey of the heads oflaw enforcement agencies across the country, a full 46% reported that they had implemented a community policing program (Wycoff, 1994). The police officers involved in these programs are being asked to become community problem solvers. Their activities include:

identifying the full range of problems experienced by community residents;

* working with community residents to develop strategies for addressing those problems; and

* bringing in the appropriate public and nonprofit agencies to implement those strategies.

The goals and methods of community policing are similar to those of community development planning. Both activities are designed to create stable, healthy neighborhoods, and both seek to involve community residents in improvement efforts. Thus, planners and community police officers need to work together to maximize their impacts and to take advantage of the perspectives and skills that each profession brings to the task of improving living conditions in our neighborhoods.

The main objectives of this article are to introduce the concepts and practices of community policing to planners, to explore the benefits of cooperation between community police officers and planners, and to present examples of such cooperation. The article is based on a study of community policing in two North Carolina communities, Asheville and Greensboro. It begins with a definition of community-oriented policing and describes how it is different from traditional policing. It then describes the community policing programs in Asheville and Greensboro. Arguments for the relevance of community policing to the concerns and activities of planners are then offered and supported with findings from citizen surveys conducted in the two cities. Finally, specific examples of productive collaborations between planners and community police officers are offered, and suggestions are made for how planners can establish collaborative relationships with community police officers.

Definition of Community Policing

There is no universally accepted definition of community policing. Skogan and Hartnett (1997) suggest that community policing

involves reforming decision-making processes and creating new cultures within police departments: it is not a packet of specific tactical plans .... It assumes a commitment to broadly focused, problem-oriented policing and requires that police be responsive to citizens' demands when they decide what local problems are and set their priorities. (P- S)

Community policing can be conceptualized at three distinct levels: the philosophical level, the program level, and the activity level.

Philosophical Level

At the philosophical level, three principles distinguish community-oriented policing from traditional policing: (1) shared responsibility for community safety, (2) crime prevention, and (3) officer discretion in the performance of police duties. The community policing philosophy stresses that the responsibility for the maintenance of order in a community must be shared by both the police and members of that community. Shared responsibility entails frequent and sustained communication, which is essential in building mutual trust and cooperation between community residents and police personnel. In addition, shared responsibility requires that community residents become more actively involved in crime prevention through activities such as reporting crime and organizing community watch or patrol groups. Shared responsibility also requires police to respond to the crime-related problems that community residents have identified as important. Finally, police must demonstrate respe! ct for all community residents. Shared responsibility typically translates into officers being given the time to attend community meetings, conduct foot patrols, and otherwise informally interact with community residents. It also means that officers are assigned "permanent" beats so that they can get to know the community and the community can get to know them.

Community policing also stresses crime prevention. Where traditional policing largely involves responding to calls for service once a crime has been committed, community policing involves identifying the underlying conditions that lead to crime and then organizing efforts to alter those conditions. In this sense, community policing has a problem-solving orientation that typically involves the collaboration of police personnel, community residents, and other public and nonprofit organizations in the development and implementation of community improvement projects. These projects may range from the demolition of a "crack house" to the cleanup of a local park or the development of recreational programs for local youth. Operationally, this means officers are provided with the skills and the time to work on these projects.

Finally, the community policing philosophy stresses increased officer discretion over how they perform their jobs so they can be responsive to community concerns and build community trust. Within reasonable limits, they must be given the flexibility to handle problems in a way they believe will be most effective, rather than by a rigid set of rules and procedures. Officers are asked to be creative in finding ways to address community problems without resorting to arrest. In practice, this often requires organizational decentralization and a flattening of the command structure.

Program Level

At the program level, there is no single model for how community policing programs are run. A police department that adopts community policing typically designs a program that suits its unique local circumstances. Most departments, however, begin by creating separate community policing units that target one or more high-crime housing developments or neighborhoods. In many instances these are the same communities that housing and community development planners have targeted for revitalization. The number of areas targeted in any community will depend on a number of factors, such as the degree of local commitment to community policing and the financial support available to the program.

Specially trained community police officers are assigned to these units and are expected to get to know the community and its problems, to help develop strategies for addressing those problems, and, with the assistance of both community residents and other government agencies, to implement those solutions. Community police officers are typically "off radio," which means they are not expected to respond to routine calls for service.

This allows them time to get to know the community and to become engaged in problem-solving activities. In many instances these officers work out of police sub-stations that are located within the areas to which they are assigned. Over time, however, there has been a tendency for departments to expand their programs to involve a larger number of officers and to cover wider geographic areas. In addition to these special units, many departments expect all officers to embrace the principles of community policing and to undertake at least some community problem-solving activities (Rohe et al., 1996a).

Activity Level

At the activity level, community policing involves a wide range of actions that are limited only by the creativity of the officers involved. In many instances they conduct regular foot or bike patrols, w67, no. 1 (Winter 2001): p. 78-90hich provide them with the opportunity to get to know the residents and the problems facing their communities. In many instances they conduct "knock and talks," where they systematically introduce themselves to local residents. They may also organize community watch groups or more general purpose neighborhood organizations and attend the meetings held by those groups. They may collect data on neighborhood problems, which may or may not be directly related to local crime, such as housing code violations or recreation opportunities for local youth. They may help plan and implement neighborhood improvement projects, such as neighborhood cleanups or the demolition of abandoned properties, often in collaboration with other city agencies.! Community police officers may also engage in traditional police activities, such as stakeouts of suspected drug houses, or conduct crime trend and location analyses. The exact mix of activities will typically differ depending on community characteristics and on residents' views on the most pressing neighborhood problems.

Implementing Community Policing

The transition from traditional to community policing involves major changes in the missions, policies, and practices of police departments, as well as in the behavior of police officers. Thus, this transition can be accompanied by considerable internal resistance and conflict. Previous studies have shown that resistance to the implementation of community policing can come from both middle managers and line officers. Middle managers are often threatened by the loss of authority and control over the line officers that often accompanies the shift to community policing (Roberg, 1994; Skogan, 1994). Moreover, line officers often have difficulty accepting the shift from enforcing laws to solving community problems (Lurigio & Skogan, 1994; Sadd & Grinc, 1994). Community policing's emphasis on officers interacting with and being responsive to citizens, as well as the activities involved in problem solving, stretch officers in new directions. In many instances the training they hav! e received to undertake these new roles and activities has been limited.

Research Methods

The research reported in this article is based on a larger study of the implementation and impacts of community policing in six North Carolina communities. Asheville and Greensboro are highlighted here since the community policing programs in these cities had established relationships with their respective planning or housing and community development departments.

The study involved the collection of several types of data. First, key informant interviews were conducted with a wide variety of government officials, police department employees, and community leaders in each of the communities studied.' Second, a survey of police officers was conducted in each community. This survey was designed to assess officer job satisfaction and to gage officer support for community policing.2 Third, a sample of residents in the community policing target areas of each city were surveyed. That in-person survey was designed to assess resident knowledge of and participation in community policing programs, satisfaction with police services, fear of crime, and perceptions of neighborhood change.3 Although we tried to obtain reported crime rates for the target neighborhoods for the preceding S years, this information was available only in Greensboro.

Community Policing Programs in Asheville and Greensboro

The following brief descriptions of community policing in Asheville and Greensboro provide specific examples of how community policing programs are organized and how they have worked with other city departments, including the planning departments.

Community Policing in Asheville

Asheville is located in the Appalachian region of western North Carolina. It is the county seat of Buncombe County and the commercial center for surrounding counties. The city population has grown from approximately 54,000 persons in 1980 to approximately 64,000 persons in 1996 (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999). The Asheville Police Department has 167 sworn law enforcement officers and 53 civilian employees.

Community policing in Asheville emphasizes "problem solving with community interaction, allowing the community and other agencies to work with police to solve persistent problems based on the concept of shared responsibility" (City of Asheville Police Department, n.d.b, p.1). The department's official value statements are clearly in line with the philosophy of community policing. They include the following:

* We believe the police and the community share in the responsibility for crime control and safety and that the role of the police is defined by the community it serves;

* We accept the responsibility to react to crime activity in a way that emphasizes prevention and which is marked by vigorous law enforcement; and

* We believe in working collaboratively with neighborhoods to better understand the nature of neighborhood problems and to develop meaningful and cooperative strategies to address them. (City of Asheville Police Department, n.d.a, pp. 1-2)

Asheville's balanced approach to community policing emphasizes the need for the community to be responsible for its own safety by being involved in crime prevention and problem-solving efforts in their neighborhoods. For their part, the police provide technical assistance to the community both in identifying the sources of neighborhood problems and in organizing efforts to address them.

All Asheville police officers are expected to apply community policing principles in their daily activities. The cornerstone of community policing in Asheville is the Police And Community Together (PACT) Team, which consists of six officers and a sergeant. Its role is to "focus on problems or concerns which are primarily identified by residents within the affected neighborhoods" (City of Asheville Police Department, n.d.b, p. 1). When a complaint is received, it is evaluated by a PACT Team officer to determine its root causes. Once the complaint is validated and the root cause identified, the citizens and PACT Team officers work together to develop a plan to address the problem. Whenever possible, community support is developed prior to implementation of that plan. PACT Team officers also conduct bike and foot patrols in the city.

The PACT Team officers work out of two Community Resource Centers, which are multipurpose community centers jointly funded by the City of Asheville and community organizations. Staffed by community volunteers, the Community Resource Centers provide PACT Team offices and space for community meetings.

A second special community policing unit is focused on Asheville's public housing developments. The Asheville Resident Government Unified Strategies (ARGUS) program is run in cooperation with the Asheville Public Housing Authority. ARGUS "brings the residents and the Asheville Police Department into a partnership to interdict drugs and crime at the neighborhood level.... ARGUS officers also coordinate with other law enforcement agencies to bring about a multifaceted crime solving approach" (City of Asheville Police Department, nAc, p. 1). This team has three officers who cover all 17 public housing developments, but they concentrate their efforts in the four or five developments that have the most problems. They work out of an office in one of the developments and conduct high-visibility foot and bicycle patrols. They work on community problems and support citizen-patrol programs in three communities.

The PACT Team officers have divided the city into seven areas, and each officer is responsible for problem solving in one of these areas. Officers assist community members in developing and maintaining community watch groups. According to the City of Asheville Police Department's 1995 Annual Report, there were 176 active community watch programs in the city. The Asheville Police Department also sponsors four citizen patrol groups with 52 active participants. Officers regularly organize and attend community meetings to discuss crime problems and what can be done to address them.

The results of the officer survey in Asheville show that a large majority of officers have accepted community policing. A total of 72% agreed with the statement, "I very much support the department's move toward community oriented policing." Of course this means that 28% of the officers have yet to embrace community policing. In addition, these officers were engaging in many of the activities associated with community policing. Within the prior week, 74% reported attending a meeting with the public present, 63% reported working with other city agencies to get them involved in solving community problems, and 45% reported conducting foot or bike patrols. As might be expected, the designated community police officers reported spending considerably more time on these activities than did other officers.

Community Policing in Greensboro

Greensboro is located in Guilford County in North Carolina's Central Piedmont region. Greensboro had an estimated 1996 population of 193,000 persons (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999). The city continues to grow through annexation as well as natural increase. The Greensboro Police Department has 447 sworn law enforcement officers and 132 civilian employees.

Community policing in Greensboro emphasizes five principles:

* The unique problems of each community need to be recognized, and police services should be tailored to address these differences;


Rather than rotating assignments, officers should be assigned to specific communities so as to foster familiarity with the residents of those communities;

* Officers should be given the freedom to make a variety of decisions on their own without constantly checking with their superiors;

* Officers should be advocates for the communities in which they work; and

- Officers should work closely with other city agencies to ensure that the full array of community problems is being addressed.

Community policing in Greensboro includes the Police Neighborhood Resource Center (PNRC) program and the Community Resource Officer (CRO) program. The PNRC program places two officers in each of five high-crime housing developments owned by the Greensboro Housing Authority. A unit in each development has been converted to office space for this program. Community volunteers staff these offices and act as receptionists. They also act as liaisons between the residents and police officers. PNRC officers conduct foot patrols in the housing developments, develop neighborhood watch programs, work on special projects with youth, and organize youth athletic programs.

The Community Resource Officer (CRO) program places a team of five officers in each of the four police department districts. These five officers include the district community policing sergeant, a crime prevention officer, and three CROs. This program addresses larger and more complex problems in the community. For example, CROs have been instrumental in developing a nuisance abatement case for a problem night club and in developing a prostitution sting operation. The CRO program is community-wide, although much of the activity is concentrated in the lower-income, higher-crime areas of the city.

Greensboro's community policing program attempts to involve citizens at several levels. Citizens volunteer to work at the PNRCs in each of the five housing projects. In addition, there are several specific programs to cultivate citizen involvement with the police department. These include the Citizens Police Academy, Neighborhood and Business Watch groups, and the National Night Out march. Finally, officers respond directly to citizen groups' requests for involvement in solving neighborhood problems.

Police department involvement with other city agencies was very limited before the advent of community policing. The community policing program has greatly improved this situation. The PNRC and PACT Team officers now work closely with both the Greensboro Housing Authority and the Department of Housing and Community Development.

A large majority of the officers surveyed in Greensboro also support their department's transition to community policing. A full 78% agreed with the statement of support for their department's move to community policing, while 22% disagreed. In terms of adopting behaviors associated with community policing, during the week preceding the survey 55% said they had worked with other city agencies to get them involved in solving a community problem, 52% reported conducting foot or bike patrols, 42% said they attended meetings with the public present, and 39% reported attending a meeting related to some community problem-solving activity.

The Benefits of Cooperation Cooperation between community police officers and planners is essential for several reasons.

Reduced Crime and Fear of Crime

Crime and fear of crime have been found to be major contributors to neighborhood decline and pose major obstacles to neighborhood revitalization (Skogan, 1988, 1990). Planners tend to focus on maintaining or improving the physical infrastructure of neighborhoods, but those efforts can be undermined by high levels of crime and fear. According to Skogan (1988), "Disorder undermines the private residential housing market through its impact upon neighborhood commitment and satisfaction and the desire of residents to move away from troubled areas, and the market value of the housing stock" (p. 58). No matter how attractive the physical environment, those with a choice will not stay in highcrime, high-fear areas. To be successful, neighborhood revitalization projects must address safety issues, as well as other social and economic conditions that contribute to neighborhood decline. With their emphasis on community involvement, problem solving, and more traditional law e! nforcement activities (such as intensive patrols, traffic checkpoints, and stakeouts), community policing programs can help address crime and fear issues. Studies have shown that community policing programs can reduce both crime and fear of crime and improve citizen evaluations of police services (Greene et al., 1994; Greene & Mastrofski, 1988; Grinc, 1994; Skogan, 1994).


Data from the citizen interviews we conducted in community policing target areas in Asheville and Greensboro are consistent with the notion that community policing can have a positive impact on citizen evaluation of police services. A full 66% of the respondents in Asheville and 48% of the respondents in Greensboro felt police protection had improved over the preceding 2 years, the period during which community policing was being implemented. Only 3 and S% of the respondents in Asheville and Greensboro, respectively, felt police protection had gotten worse, while the remaining respondents felt it had stayed the same. Moreover, 56% of the respondents in Asheville and 75% of those in Greensboro thought the police were doing a good or very good job working with local residents to solve local problems.

Our data on resident fear of crime, however, suggest that this fear did not go down in the target communities. In fact, there were slight increases in fear levels in both communities. In Asheville, 15% reported being less fearful while 20% reported being more fearful, in spite of an 8% decrease in the crime rate for the city over the previous 2 years. The remaining respondents reported no change in fear levels. In Greensboro, 19% reported less fear over the last 2 years, while 26% reported more fear. The reported crime rates in the target community in Greensboro had decreased by a modest 1.6% over the previous 2-year period.

There are several possible explanations for these findings. First, other researchers have found that getting involved in community crime prevention activities can heighten citizen attention to crime problems and increase fear levels (Greenberg et al., 1982, 1984; Lavrakas & Herz, 1979; Skogan & Maxfield, 1980). Second, increased media coverage of crime during the 2-year period of concern may have caused a general increase in fear levels. Finally, it may simply take more time and effort for community policing activities to reduce fear of crime.

Local Residents Can Be Engaged in Revitalization Efforts

Community policing programs can contribute to comprehensive neighborhood revitalization through their emphasis on organizing citizen groups where they do not exist or supporting groups where they do. In many instances community police officers help organize community watch groups, some of which evolve into more general purpose neighborhood organizations. This is not to say that they engage in the conflict-oriented organizing pioneered by Saul Alinsky (1971), but rather opportunity-oriented organizing, which emphasizes cooperation and collaboration between communities and government agencies (Gittel & Vidal, 1998). The emphasis is on identifying community problems and designing interventions that involve both community residents and public agencies. Community involvement is clearly beneficial to neighborhood revitalization efforts, and community development planners should collaborate with community police officers to support neighborhood citizen organizations.

Citizen survey data from Asheville and Greensboro indicate that large percentages of local residents were aware of crime prevention meetings having been held in their neighborhoods during the prior 2 years. Eighty-one percent of the respondents in Asheville and 78% of those in Greensboro were aware of such meetings. Moreover, 32% of the respondents in Asheville and 43% of those in Greensboro reported attending at least one of those neighborhood crime prevention meetings.

The data also indicate that the community police officers played an important role in organizing and attending those meetings. In Asheville, 41% of the residents reported that the police played a role in organizing the meetings and 93% said there was an officer in attendance. In Greensboro, 46% of the respondents reported that the police played a role in organizing the meetings and 78% reported that there was an officer in attendance.

Community Police Officers Can Assist with Community Development Planning

Like community development planning, community policing is concerned with identifying the full range of problems experienced by neighborhood residents. One of the distinct advantages that community police officers have in this task is that they are out in their neighborhoods on a daily basis. Their foot and bicycle patrols bring them in constant contact with a wide range of neighborhood residents, not just the ones who show up at public meetings. They also become very familiar with neighborhood conditions and how those conditions are affecting the lives of community residents. Thus, they are often excellent sources of information on an area, its residents, and the problems experienced by those residents. Given their close contact with the community, they can also be of great help in disseminating information to it. They can help publicize public hearings or other meetings and get the word out about a new planning effort. Many revitalization areas have "problem properti! es" or "hot spots" that are responsible for much of the crime and fear in the area. In many instances these hot spots are establishments that sell alcohol, such as nightclubs or convenience stores. Community police officers often have the time and access to crime data to put together a case to close problem properties.


Data from the citizen surveys in Asheville and Greensboro illustrate the extent of contacts between local residents and community police officers. Nine percent of the respondents in Asheville reported that an officer had come to their door to ask about neighborhood problems in the prior 2 years, and 16% said they knew the name of at least one officer who worked in the area. In Greensboro, a much larger 58% of those interviewed reported a police officer coming to their door to ask about problems, and 51% said they knew at least one officer by name. Smaller target areas in Greensboro seem to allow more contacts between officers and citizens.

Both Groups Have Similar Objectives

Finally, given that both community policing and community planning and development professionals are involved in community problem solving, they should be working together to maximize their collective efforts. The congruence between the job descriptions of community police officers and community development planners is quite striking. The job description for community police officers in Greensboro, for example, describes the job this way: "The community police officer attempts to establish a partnership between residents, community leaders, other government agencies and the police so that contemporary community problems may be addressed" (City of Greensboro Police Department, n.d., p. 1). The typical tasks listed in that same job description include becoming familiar with residents, assisting residents in identifying problems and concerns, organizing efforts to resolve identified problems or needs within the community, preventing community decay, and enhancing the! quality of life in the community. Finally, under knowledge, skills, and abilities, the job description reads: "The officer must have the ability to analyze the needs of the community, establish objectives, plan programs, implement programs and evaluate services" (p. 2). It also mentions the importance ofbeing "culturally aware of the attitudes, beliefs, motivations, and value systems of the community" (p. 2). With only slight changes, this job description could be used by a planning or community development agency to hire a neighborhood or community development planner.

Examples of Planners and Police Officers Working Together

This section presents examples of cooperation between planners and community police officers in Asheville and Greensboro.

Neighborhood Revitalization in Greensboro's Rosewood Neighborhood

The Rosewood neighborhood is a collection of modest, single-family homes close to downtown Greensboro. It was originally developed in the late 1920s as an addition to an existing mill village. Today the area's residents are mainly a mix of elderly homeowners who have lived in the area for many years and younger renters who rent from absentee landlords. The home ownership rate in the area is 51%. Several years ago the area began to experience a series of crime and disorder problems, including break-ins, squatting in vacant buildings, and illegal dumping.

In response to a series of complaints from residents of the area, two community police officers began to work with neighborhood residents. They began by organizing a community watch group, and residents began more active surveillance of suspicious activity. It was clear, however, that the area needed more than a community watch group; with the support of the community policing officers, the residents expanded the group into a multipurpose neighborhood organization.

At that point the community police officers contacted the Greensboro Department of Housing and Community Development to see how they could help in addressing the area's problems. According to Sue Schwartz, a planner with the department, "The two officers brought this area to the attention of our community development planners. My office didn't even know there was a Rosewood neighborhood" (S. Schwartz, personal communication, April 7, 1998).

The Housing and Community Development Department responded by meeting with neighborhood residents and agreeing to consider the area for designation as a Community Development Block Grant target area. After collecting some preliminary data, it was designated as a target area and the city began to develop a neighborhood plan. The community police officers expedited the completion of this plan by helping planners complete the land use inventory and citizen survey. This plan articulated several goals for the area, including improving housing conditions, protecting against the intrusion of nonresidential land uses, encouraging single-family home ownership, and creating a new park.

Based on this plan, the Greensboro Department of Housing and Community Development committed over $1,000,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to rehabilitate housing units, raze abandoned properties, and build new single-family homes in the area. For their part, the community police officers continued to work with the neighborhood residents in organizing and participating in neighborhood cleanup days, improvement of a neighborhood playground, and other community improvement projects. Clearly, this collaboration between community residents, community police officers, and community development planners was beneficial for all involved parties.

Closing Problem Businesses

Convenience stores, which do most of their business in beer and wine, are major sources of crime and disorder in the older neighborhoods of Greensboro. Crowds loiter around many of these establishments, providing an effective cover for the sale of drugs, and fights and shootings can be daily events. These establishments can have devastating effects on the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods. Until recently, there was little that was done to close these businesses.

One such convenience store, called Pool's Grocery, was opened in what was once a single-family home in one of the city's community development target areas. The owner had a history of operating businesses that attracted trouble. As anticipated, the store quickly became a hangout and source of numerous problems. Of particular concern to both community development planners and community police officers was that this store was adjacent to a day care facility that served over 150 children.

The planners and police officers wanted the business closed, but there was little precedent in Greensboro for closing such a business. Undeterred, they researched the law on licensing stores for the sale of alcohol and found that they were not to be located within a certain distance from schools. They reasoned that a day care center that served 150 children should meet the definition of a school. They also discovered a limit on how many licenses could be given to businesses selling alcohol within a certain distance of each other and that there were five such businesses in close proximity to each other.

Working together, the community police officers and the planners documented and presented this information to the State's Alcohol Beverage Control Board. After due consideration, the Board revoked the business's permit to sell alcohol. The store quickly closed; the property was subsequently purchased by the City and rehabilitated back into a single-family home. By working together the planners and police officers were able to rid the area of a major source of neighborhood problems.

In a similar instance, this time involving a bar called Moore's Lounge, North Carolina's public nuisance laws were used to close a crime hot spot. Many states have nuisance provisions which allow a civil action to be brought against a property that represents a major nuisance to surrounding neighbors. If successful, the judge can order a property to be closed and not used for a similar purpose. The evidence in a nuisance action is community member statements as to how the use of the property adversely affects them.

Moore's Lounge had been the location of several murders, numerous shootings, drug sales, and other criminal activity. The community police officers found that the residents in surrounding homes would not use the rooms in their homes that faced the lounge on Friday and Saturday nights because they were afraid of gun shots. The community police officers responded by working with local residents to put together the documentation needed for the civil action. They pulled together the crime data on the property and collected affidavits from neighbors. The resulting civil action was successful and the judge ordered the closure of Moore's Lounge. The building is now being used as a church.

Cross-Training in Community Problem Solving

As mentioned previously, community policing is new to most police departments, and many officers have not had much experience with activities such as community problem solving. Planners, on the other hand, often have extensive experience in many of the tasks involved in community problem identification and problem solving, including collecting and analyzing data, developing alternative strategies, selecting strategies based on a set of criteria, finding resources to implement strategies, and evaluating the impacts of the implemented strategies. Moreover, planners are typically taught to adopt a longer-range perspective on problem solving. As described by one community police officer in Greensboro,

Police officers have always looked at the immediate problem, tried to fix it quickly, and moved on to the next problem. Planners, however, are taught to think longer term. They can help us think about more effective long-term solutions to crime problems. (G. Holder, personal communication, April 7,1998)

Planners can assist community police officers in problem solving techniques in both formal and informal settings. In Greensboro, a planner with the Department of Housing and Community Development routinely participates in the basic training program provided to all new officers. She teaches a session on the responsibilities and activities of other city departments and how they can help in solving a variety of community problems. She also familiarizes the new officers with the neighborhoods in which the Housing and Community Development Department is currently working and discusses where they can get information on the neighborhoods in which they will be working.

Much of the transfer of knowledge, however, takes place through informal contacts. It is not uncommon for community police officers to ask housing and community development planners for assistance in conducting surveys, finding information on an area, or figuring out who should be involved in a particular problem-solving effort. A common concern of community police officers is how to address the problem of vacant properties in the areas in which they work. Planners can help in explaining the various options and the processes involved. Similarly, it is not uncommon for housing and community development planners to seek out the assistance of community police officers in the design of an overall strategy to reduce crime and crime-related problems in target areas. Much mutual learning goes on in these informal exchanges.

Total Quality Management as a Basis for Cooperation

Cooperation between planners and community police officers in Asheville is facilitated by joint training in the philosophy and techniques of Total Quality Management. This training emphasizes interdepartmental problem solving and is based on four principles: customer satisfaction, respect for people, management by fact rather than opinion, and solving problems with a systematic plan-do-check-act process. According to the City of Asheville 1993 Annual Report, the program involves the formation of"small groups of employees who learn to work in teams using a systematic problem-solving model. They learn to use basic statistical tools to analyze issues, suggest solutions and measure their results" (p. 1). The training covers topics including team building, meeting facilitation, problem analysis, and other skills relevant to community problem solving.

Following this training, the city organizes Neighborhood Enhancement Teams that include staff from planning, police, and other City departments. These teams study neighborhood problems and develop solutions that may involve a variety of City departments. Working together in these teams has resulted in community officers and planners knowing each other on a first name basis, thereby facilitating cooperation on a number of neighborhood improvement projects.

Preparing an Enterprise Community Proposal

The task of putting together an application for HUD's Enterprise Community program (Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, n.d.) was assigned to Greensboro's Department of Housing and Community Development. The development of this proposal required extensive community participation, since HUD emphasized the importance of "bottom-up" planning. To help with the tasks of getting the word out about this initiative and getting residents to participate in meetings to develop the strategic plan for how the funds were to be spent, the HCD planners turned to the community police officers working in the neighborhoods to be targeted. The community police officers helped by distributing flyers about the strategic planning meetings and encouraging residents to participate. As explained by one of the planners involved, "It's not an anonymous mailing, it's George handing this out and saying, 'I think this is really important, can you come?' This dramatically increas! ed participation in our neighborhood workshops and plans" (S. Schwartz, personal communication, April 7,1998).

The community police officers also help the Greensboro planners with "rumor control." Based on their experience with urban renewal and other public programs, residents of low- and moderate-income neighborhoods are often skeptical of any new redevelopment program. To reduce the likelihood of false rumors in areas in which community police officers have been working, the planners meet with the officers to explain the project and provide them with fact sheets that they can, in turn, give to local residents. This helps to dispel false rumors about community development projects.

Overcoming Barriers to Cooperation

The examples provided above show that there is much to be gained if planners and community police officers work together. There are, however, many barriers to cooperation that must be overcome to forge effective working relationships. For example, most municipal departments suffer from a degree of insularity; planning and police departments are not immune from this problem. They tend to be narrowly focused on their "bread and butter" activities-for police departments it's responding to calls for service, and for planning departments it's developing plans and reviewing development proposals-and don't think, or have the time, to talk with those from other departments to see how they could coordinate their efforts to more effectively address community problems. Indeed, heavy work loads for both planners and police officers often leave little time to collaborate with representatives of other departments. In many instances insularity is reinforced by the physical separ! ation of planning and police departments. One possible reason for the relatively high degree of cooperation between the planners and police officers in Greensboro is that they are located in the same building.

Cultural differences between the planning and police professions may also inhibit cooperation. Police officers have a tendency toward immediate action, while planners have a tendency toward longer-term strategies. Planners are likely to have more education, come from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, and be more politically liberal than police officers. Moreover, each field also has its own jargon that may make communication difficult.

Finally, as mentioned earlier, the transition from traditional to community policing is often accompanied by some degree of strife within police departments. Moreover, not all officers embrace the principles and practices of community policing. This may limit the degree to which police departments and individual officers cooperate with planners.

The benefits of cooperation, however, are too signif icant to allow these barriers to thwart cooperation. Although extra effort may be required, neighborhood and community development planners should actively seek out and develop mutually beneficial relations with police officers in their cities. Assuming that a city has a community policing program, a simple phone call to identify the person in charge of that program, followed by a meeting to discuss common interests, is the way to start. If there is no community policing program in a city, planners might consider how to initiate a discussion of its benefits. This might include initial contacts with the city manager or the police chief.

Once initial contact has been made, ways to institutionalize communication and cooperation between the planning and police departments should be considered. Some ideas for doing this include involving each other in periodic training sessions, and including planners and community police officers on interdepartmental problem-solving task forces. Moreover, planners might routinely involve community police officers in specific stages of developing neighborhood plans, such as problem identification and the implementation of neighborhood safety elements of those plans. More informal contacts can also be encouraged by introducing the staffs of both departments to each other and providing contact sheets so that staff understand who to call in the other agency when they have a question or concern.


Community development and community policing have much in common. They share the same overall goal of improving the quality oflife in communities throughout a city, particularly low-income communities. Moreover, they both try to accomplish this by involving local residents in community improvement efforts. It is clear that by working together, both planners and community police officers can be more effective in accomplishing their closely related missions.


This article is based on a project to assess the implementation and impacts of community policing that was funded by the North Carolina Governor's Crime Commission. The Commission's director for research, James Klopovic, played an important role in conceptualizing the initial research project. The full study, entitled "Community Oriented Policing: The North Carolina Experience," is available from the Center for Urban and Regional Studies. Special thanks are also due Sue Schwartz of the Greensboro Department of Housing and Community Development and Sergeant George Holder of the Greensboro Police Department for participating in a session entitled "Planning and Community Policing" at the American Planning Association Conference in Boston, Massachusetts (April 5-8, 1998). Many of the examples of cooperation between planners and community police officers presented in this paper are based on their experiences.


1. These interviews were conducted with semistructured schedules specifically designed for each type of respondent. The questions elicited both descriptions of the programs and respondents' views of their strengths and weaknesses. A total of 14 interviews were conducted in Asheville, 16 in Greensboro.

2. These surveys were administered at either role call or training meetings. In Asheville we sought to survey all sworn patrol and community policing officers. We completed surveys of 74 of a possible 99 officers for a 75% response rate. In Greensboro, due to the large number of officers (240), we distributed surveys to officers attending selected roll calls across the department's four districts and to officers involved in the community policing programs. The distribution of roll calls was selected so that every district and every shift would be included. A total of 80 officers completed the surveys for an 80% response rate.

3. Given that our budget allowed for only 100 completed interviews in each city, target areas were selected. We applied the following criteria: (1) crime had been a significant problem in the area, (2) community policing had been introduced to the area 1 to 2 years prior to the study, and (3) the area contained between 600 and 2,000 households. In Asheville, a total of 99 surveys were completed for an 87% response rate. In Greensboro, 99 surveys were completed for a 65% response rate.


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William M. Rohe, Richard E. Adams, and Thomas A. Arcury

Rohe is a professor of city and regional planning and the director ofthe Center for Urban and Regional Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is co-author of Planning with Neighborhoods (University of North Carolina Press, 1985) and more than 40 journal articles on the topics of housing and community development policy and practice. Adams is a senior research associate on a study examining social factors affecting substance abuse at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. His research interests include quality of life in urban neighborhoods and social factors affecting physical and mental health. Arcury is a research associate professor and research director in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and an adjunct associate professor of anthropology at Wake Forest University. His research focuses on health and aging in rural and minority communities.

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