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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 220583 Find in a Library
Title: Force Multiplier: People as a Policing Resource
Journal: International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice  Volume:31  Issue:1  Dated:Spring 2007  Pages:73-100
Author(s): Julie Ayling
Date Published: 2007
Page Count: 28
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article identifies various forms of voluntary citizen participation in law enforcement, some of the benefits of such participation, its costs and risks, and ways in which the risks might be minimized.
Abstract: Citizens' voluntary law-enforcement involvement includes working without pay within the structure of a police organization in order to supplement and assist it in the performance of its duties. A second domain of citizen voluntary assistance in law enforcement involves residents policing their communities. This can take the form of citizen patrols; citizen surveillance and reporting of suspicious activity observed in their neighborhoods; and citizen-initiated programs that target specific types of crime, such as exposing users of Internet "chatrooms" who have engaged in predatory communications with minors who use the "chatrooms." Citizens also engage in law-enforcement actions when they hire private police to perform protective services for facilities and activities in which citizens have a security interest. The benefits of these citizen law-enforcement activities include an increase in law-enforcement resources, citizen involvement in ensuring their own protection, increased police responsiveness to community public safety needs, and an improved quality of life for communities. Some of the costs of citizen volunteers involved in policing are the time and money spent by professional police in recruiting, training, and supervising citizen volunteers. Some of the risks of citizen-initiated law enforcement activities are encroachments on citizen privacy and confidentiality; harms caused by untrained, excessive reporting of perceived suspicious activity; and vigilantism. The key to minimizing the risks posed by citizen involvement in law enforcement is for governments to define the nature and limits of citizen involvement in policing, as well as for the public police to oversee and monitor various patterns of citizen involvement in public-safety activities. 1 table, 13 notes, and 84 references
Main Term(s): Police department volunteers
Index Term(s): Block watch; Community involvement; Police volunteer training; Volunteer programs; Volunteer training
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