Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Sociology
Community-Oriented Policing Services (COPS) emerged in response to longstanding criticisms revolving around police accountability and effectiveness. It emphasizes civilian participation in crime-prevention and problem-solving efforts to build trust between the police and minoritized communities with whom they have had an antagonistic relationship. Traditional policing is reactive in nature, with officers acting only after crime has been committed or a call for service has been made; it enforces the law; “legitimizes” use of violence; and emulates military structure and tactics. In this study I describe it as “enforcement” or “crime-fighting policing.” COPS programs are embedded within this structure. Unlike traditional policing, COPS is characterized by four dimensions: philosophical, strategic, tactical, and organizational (Cordner 1999). Kennedy and Moore (1995) argue that the proper unit of analysis is not the program, but the police organization and its capacity to be flexible, innovative, and collaborative. However, there is a lack of research that focuses on community-oriented policing programs and examines how they are embedded within police departments and communities. This study adds to the literature critical of COP philosophy and implementation. My research questions include: What are the purpose/goals of the CAPS program, and does the entire department share them? How does the program nested within the CPD seek to achieve these goals? Why has CAPS/COP been unable to resolve the critiques levied against policing? I used a combination of seven semi-structured in-depth interviews and eight observations of Beat Meetings. Interviews were conducted with both CAPS officers and “enforcement” officers. An analysis of the data revealed that police officers can often be categorized as empathetic or punitive. The compassion and community-service background of empathetic officers makes them well-suited to CAPS work. Policing tactics cannot adequately address community problems because they disregard the structural components of crime, public safety, police misconduct, and other community problems. The CPD has used the CAPS program as a marketing strategy rather than adopting the transformative COP philosophy.
Gaines, Kian Spencer, "You Ca N’t Police Your Way out of these Problems: Disregarding the Structural Components of Community Problems" (2023). Theses and Dissertations. 1744.