Community Policing
Community Policing
  • Michael Collins, Community Policing Officer (Forsyth County Sheriff’s Deputy)
  • Trent Thornton, Community Policing Officer (Forsyth County Sheriff’s Deputy)
  • Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office 336-727-2112 (Non-Emergency)


*The Town of Rural Hall’s Community Policing Officers are typically on duty seven days a week from 11:00 AM until 11:00 PM. 

Plan to be away for a few days? You can request for community policing to do a security check while you are out-of-town or away from your home. You can call the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Non-Emergency Line at 336-727-2112 to request a security check. We can take your information over the phone, or you can email the following information to the dates you will out-of-town, name, address, contact number(s), and a list of anyone who will be visiting the home and reason, any vehicles that will be at the residence, and if any lights will be left on.

If you ever have an emergency, call 911 (not Town Hall or the non-emergency number above).

What is Community Policing?

When Professor Herman Goldstein of the University of Wisconsin Law School developed the concept of problem-oriented policing (also known as community policing and neighborhood policing), he must have envisioned what an important role this theory would have on the future of police work.  Professor Goldstein’s theory is based mostly on what seems to be a common-sense way of approaching crime problems in the community, that is, to address the problems that cause or encourage criminal activity not merely to enforce the laws that prohibit such activities.  At the heart of every community-oriented policing program is this concept.

In theory, community-oriented policing is straight-forward and easy to understand, but in many places, implementing such a program has proven difficult and time consuming because for decades police work has generally focused on highly traditional and rigid law enforcement tactics.  These traditional tactics generally include the police officer responding to a call for help from a citizen, then recording all the relevant data surrounding the case, then attempting to solve the individual crime.  “But if responding to incidents is all that the police do, the community problems that cause or explain many of these incidents will never be addressed, and so the incidents will continue and the number will perhaps increase.”  (James Q. Wilson, “Making Neighborhoods Safe,” The Atlantic Monthly, 2/89.)

Three elements must be present before a crime can be committed:

  1. Someone must be motivated to commit the crime;
  2. A suitable target must be present;
  3. The target must be (relatively) unguarded.  (Lawrence Cohen, “Social Change and Crime Rate Trends,” American Sociological Review 8/89.)

Community-oriented policing works to eliminate one or more of these elements by reducing motivation or opportunities for individuals to commit crimes.  In-depth analysis of the factors that encourage crime can lead to a successful crime reduction program.  For example, in community-oriented policing, after responding to many requests for service in a particularly dark alley, the police might take steps to improve the lighting to reduce the opportunity that exists for thieves and robbers to attack people.

Community-oriented policing is easily linked to the “broken window” theory (invented by well-known police theorist James Q. Wilson), which holds that simply fixing broken windows, improving lighting and cleaning up an area that is associated with high crime has a much greater impact on reducing crime and the opportunity to commit crime than merely assigning more police personnel to the area.  By fixing these “broken windows,” whatever they may be, the community slowly regains pride in living in the area.  As a result, citizens who feared the streets begin to come out and use them again, reinforcing the community’s support for the police and community-oriented policing.  In the past several years, many communities have experienced tremendous benefits from community-oriented police programs.

The benefits that come with community-oriented policing are numerous.  Almost immediately, the police department establishes a better rapport with the community.  Police officers enter an area that is experiencing high rates of crime and become not only law enforcers, but social agents who are really concerned about the community’s problems and the reduction of crime and fear.  When police officers become involved in the community at this level, they become community organizers, planners  and educators.  This not only benefits the community but it gives the individual police officer increased job satisfaction.  Community-oriented policing introduces philosophical changes in the nature of police work that allow police executives to implement more modern management practices that would be ineffective in the traditional, highly centralized, bureaucratic organizational structures existing in many police departments.  These practices include allowing lower ranking officers to become more involved in crime reduction programs and “mid-level managers can further encourage effective and innovative efforts by rewarding the officers who undertake them.”  Instead of concentrating on ticket writing and responding to calls, officers become problem solvers and innovators who are seen by citizens as community leaders.  The entire police department must shift its focus from “internal efficiency to external effectiveness.”  (John Eck, “The Police and the Delivery of Local Government Services,”  Police Journal, 3/89.)  The end result is that police officers and departments learn how to work together with the citizens they serve, within the department and with other police departments and other local government agencies.  United police efforts benefit society and the department, as citizens begin to wholeheartedly support the efforts of the police department.

How Does Community Policing Differ From Traditional Policing?

Traditional Policing
Indirectly available
Strategic response
Community Policing
Responds appropriately

What Can a Community Expect From Community Policing?

– Increase in calls, initially
– Increase in response time when officer is on duty
– Necessity for call screening and differential response
– Decrease in arrests
– Increase in community leadership by citizens and officers
– Increase in community respect of Community Policing Officer
– More authority given to Community Policing Officer
– Increase in Community Policing Officer’s satisfaction
– Increase in quality of life for community
– Community Policing Officer participates with citizen groups, businesses, neighborhoods and individuals to solve problems.

Key Elements to the Success of Community Policing

  • Identify the role of the Community Policing Officer
  • Clear Direction to Community Policing Officer
  • Open communication with Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department leaders
  • Open communication with other County Officers, especially those working in the area
  • Formal training for Community Policing Officer
  • Scheduling of work days and hours
  • Media
  • Community involvement; business, neighborhood, individual and citizen interaction
  • Establish good working relationships with elected officials, manager and staff
  • Establish good working relationships with other agencies (Fire Dept., Schools, etc.)
  • Thorough knowledge of Town Ordinance
  • Evaluation of community policing program

What Does a Community Expect of Police?

Safety and security.

Traditional Policing Methods – Community Policing Methods

Make arrests
Respond quickly
Citizen Respect
Paramilitary organization
Prevent Crime
Respond appropriately
Improve quality of life/citizen cooperation
Increase officer authority
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