Traditional definitions of community emphasize commonality and similarity, but do not address the diversity and complexity that exist in many communities. Traditionally, the police viewed the community through a single lens, but community policing embraces a multifaceted view. Each interpretation impacts the roles and relationship between the police and the community. This entry discusses how the definitions of community have changed and affected the roles and relationship between community and police over time.

Changing Roles

The common police motto “to protect and serve” assumes the role of police to be caretakers of the community. It also suggests that the role of the community in addressing crime is passive. That may be an effective role if a community is small, demographically similar, and experiences low levels of crime. ...

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