A Framework Document by Drew Diamond and Deirdre Mead Weiss

"Advancing Community Policing Through Community Governance"

Richard Smaby

This is a slim book (76 pages), packed with content. It analyzes various aspects of policing and outlines in detail how, by involving a community in governing, the practice of policing can provide better outcomes for the community and the police (who are after all members of the community, at the very least because they work in the community). This book had a big impact on me, making me hopeful for the future, if Pierce County and its cities follow its advice. My review cannot have that same impact on you. Only studying the book itself will move you to a similar view. It is available in .pdf format. The link is at the bottom of my review.

“.. police departments need a broad range of multidisciplinary partnerships with the community to address local public safety problems. This means partnerships with community-based organizations (e.g., advocacy organizations, faith-based groups, Rotary clubs), community businesses, individual community members, and government agencies— especially at the municipal level.”

I was struck by the practical advice. One point made often was that human nature becomes enthusiastic for reform of an institution, but over time loses interest, with nothing but a few bureaucratic documents to show for all their effort. But imagine increasing the stakeholders in a democratic governing process to the point of critical mass, so as one stakeholder wanes another rises to lead.

Another ingredient in concerted and effective action is leadership. Many are willing to work for a cause, but only a few are willing or able to put in the huge amount of time to lead a stakeholder group. Municipal midlevel managers are key to effective government and need to receive support from the city council and mayor. It is also important to find the leaders of stakeholder groups in the community.

Community policing involves people working and living in the community, but also government agencies, non-profits and other community-based organizations, and businesses. As police departments strengthen their ties to the community, they form liaisons with other departments in their city government and with community organizations.

“Community policing seeks to amend the shortcomings of this ‘professionalism’ or ‘traditional policing’ model, by bringing the officer and the community back into contact with each other. Community policing places a much stronger focus on developing and maintaining trust and positive relationships between the police and all people they serve.”

Community governance kicks the above idea up a notch, establishing a collaborative governance model. This book focuses on police to show how policing issues can be addressed by community governance. The book stresses that community policing through community governance is not a program enacted by the city. Rather it is a living philosophy of city life that never ends, continually recognizing and dealing with new challenges.

“Community governance is a philosophical approach to local governance in which municipal agencies, city leaders, and the community (e.g., nonprofit and community-based organizations, individuals, and businesses) view themselves as partners and collaborate to address community problems and improve the overall quality of life.”

“[Some] municipal leaders have begun to shift their approach from government (an institution) to governance (a process). These leaders often point to the need for civil servants to have new skill sets that allow them to act as facilitators, consensus builders, collaborators, and community builders who engage the public in decision-making processes. These ideas are also embraced by proponents of community policing, who stress that the police and the community share the responsibility for community safety and often act as facilitators and collaborators when engaging the community in problemsolving efforts around crime and disorder issues.”

The final section of the book contains 5 case studies of cities that worked to implement the framework of the book: Anaheim, California, Irving, Texas, Longmont, Colorado, Prince William County, Virginia, and Wichita, Kansas.

Advancing Community Policing Through Community Governance: A Framework Document (usdoj.gov)

The first author is Drew Diamond, who was a Tulsa police officer for 22 years and served as chief for four until he resigned in 1991. He is recognized nationally as an expert on community-based policing.

The second author, Deirdre Mead Weiss, was in 2015 Assistant Director Training and Technical Assistance Police Executive Research Forum of the Urban Institute.