Proactive Alliance: Combining policing and counselling psychology
This article is related directly to the 6th International Law Enforcement & Public Health (LEPH) Virtual Conference in March 2021.
Keywords:community-oriented policing, problem-solving, community engagement, mental health, police training, police officer wellness
The philosophy of community-oriented policing (COP) has been widely adopted by police departments around the world and has important benefits, such as improving community members’ satisfaction with police and their perceptions of police legitimacy. However, implementing COP is challenging. Police departments report difficulties obtaining the support of officers on the ground and knowing how best to engage communities—which often contain multiple, overlapping, and sometimes competing groups within the same geographic area—in effective problem-solving and crime prevention.
This article describes Proactive Alliance, an innovative training program that draws from criminological theory and
evidence-based principles in counselling psychology to teach police officers specific, immediately applicable techniques to establish rapport and long-term working relationships with community stakeholders. The training addresses two key challenges of COP: building meaningful collaboration across diverse communities and empowering frontline officers to become change agents in pursuit of the “co-production” of public safety. It builds on the original theory of broken windows policing, which emphasized the importance of harnessing police officers’ personalities to facilitate successful community engagement and crime prevention, and provides practical tools based on those used by mental health professionals to enable officers to engage in active listening, to connect, and to problem-solve with the community while protecting their own well-being. We conclude by describing the potential of Proactive Alliance to strengthen COP and evidence-based policing more broadly.
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