A Community Policing Ethnography: How Police Talk About Police-Community Partnerships

Sandra Kaminska Costello, University of Illinois at Chicago

Working in partnership with the community is a new experience for many police officers. Although police agencies have been experimenting with the philosophy of community policing and collaborative problem-solving for nearly 20 years, the relationships between officers and community members still fall into largely traditional patterns. Based on more than a decade of work in innovative police agencies, this paper discusses the evolution of police-community relationships from the point of view of the street-level police officers. Utilizing survey, interview, and focus group data, we will explore if-and, if so, to what extent- police have re-imagined their own roles vis-a-vis the community, made recommendations for re-shaping police agencies to better accommodate and support police-community partnerships, and changed their attitudes and expectations regarding their community partners.

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Updated 05/20/2006