Community policing is meant to combat citizen mistrust of the police force. This policing model was developed in the mid-20th century to help officers work more collaboratively with the communities they are assigned to. The hope was that activities such as town hall meetings and “meet and greet” foot patrols would create a partnership between citizens and the police force, increasing trust and ultimately leading to reduced crime. Studies in the 1990s from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia showed that these goals can be achieved in certain circumstances. Many metropolitan areas in the Global North have since included community policing as part of their standard operating procedures.
However, a recent study of six locations in the Global South—Brazil, Colombia, Liberia, the Philippines, Uganda, and Pakistan—showed no significant positive effect associated with community policing across the range of countries. The study, published in Science, was co-authored by a large group of researchers including political scientists Dorothy Kronick and Guy Grossman of the School of Arts & Sciences and affiliated with the Penn Development Research Initiative.
Penn Today spoke with Grossman and Kronick to discuss the study's findings and police reform.
(Stephanie M. McPherson, writing for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, contributed to the report.)
Dorothy Kronick is an assistant professor of political science in the School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She studies Latin American political economy, focusing on Venezuela and the politics of crime and policing.
Guy Grossman is a professor of political science and the founder and co-director of Penn’s Development Research Initiative. His research is in applied political economy, with substantive focus on the intersection of technology and governance, political accountability, forced migration and conflict processes, and a regional focus on sub-Saharan Africa and Israel-Palestine.