Community Mobilization and Policing: Building Crime Control From the Inside Out

Andrea M. Leverentz, Office of the Illinois Attorney General

Research and policy currently is concentrated on community policing, and involving residents in crime control strategies. In line with the community policing philosophy are community mobilization programs. One such program, implemented through a state law enforcement agency, concentrates on very small scale community development, with the ultimate goal of reducing disorder, crime, and gang activity. A major focus of the program design is integration with the surroundng community, most notably the police department. This paper is based on an on-going evaluation of a state law enforcement agency's community mobilization program. As a part of this evaluation, researchers have conducted periodic interviews with residents and police officers (including neighborhood relations, patrol, and gang and tactical officers). I first describe community mobilization and how it compares to community policing programs. Then I explain some of the strengths as well as problems and limitations inherent in community policing/mobilization approaches. While there is a largely positive view of the police among residents, there is still skepticism about the role and response of the police. In addition, police knowledge and involvement with mobilization rarely extends beyond community policing officers and beat officers. This often limits the effect that mobilization can have on the policing of gangs.

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Updated 05/20/2006