n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Understanding the true meaning of the concept Community Policing : a final comment?

Volume 29 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Solutions to the complexities surrounding the police role, since ancient times, have not yet come full circle. The birth of modern policing started with Sir Robert Peel, who laid the foundation for what is known today as 'partnership policing'. Police reform in the United States also led to adopting community-oriented policing (COP) and problem-oriented policing (POP) approaches in the late 1980s to the early 1990s. With the advent of democracy in 1994, the South African Police Service (SAPS) replaced authoritarian policing with community policing (a service orientation closely resembling 'democratic policing values'). However, since 2010 the SAPS has reverted from a service to a force with a typical reactive kind of posture and a re-militarised rank structure similar to that of 'apartheid-policing' prior to 1994. Apparently, all these 'manoeuvres' eventually contributed to endless uncertainties regarding the appropriate policing model to apply. The present study provides useful empirical grist for the 'police manager's mill', administrative planners and academics to address concerns about the strengths, weaknesses and eventual viability of community policing, calculated to serve a diverse democratic-oriented society. The present study is poised to unravel uncertainties that may be present among police officers such as: do they understand the concept community policing in terms of its operational impact on people's expectations, and how do they react to working with diverse communities given the political history of the country, and the apparent low level of public trust in policing? Bivariate data analysis reveals good support for utilitarian-variables by gender and good to mild support for operational variables, cross-correlated with rank. Complete transformation of the SAPS and improved leadership explaining the dynamics and proper management of community policing in a close network with the public are indispensable to maintain law and order in South Africa.

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