Reparing Broken Windows: The Role of the Police Officer in Community-Oriented Policing

Robert B. Clayton, The College of Wooster


This thesis explores the role of the police officer in community-oriented policing from the perspective of police officers, an area of inquiry that has been virtually ignored in previous research on community policing. Various theories of community and urban development; bureaucracy, rationality, and organizational management; and police-officer socialization and the police subculture suggest some of the more significant social forces that influence the community-policing officer's role. To determine how these forces shape the ways in which community-policing officers view their role, a survey questionnaire was distributed to 92 police officers in police departments of three small Ohio communities, each of which has implemented community-oriented policing. Additionally, interviews were conducted with several police officers and administrators in each department to assess the ways in which issues of community, organizational management, and socialization mold the community-policing officer's role. Findings indicate that these issues are of great importance in shaping the role of the community-policing officer. Moreover, findings suggest that the community-policing officer's role is not constant, but shifts according to variations in how issues of community, organizational management, and socialization are manifested across police agencies. Directions for future research are suggested. Specifically, further research on the role of the community-policing officer should draw from a more heterogeneous sample of police agencies and police officers than the one used in this study. Further, future research should aim to identify additional issues in community-oriented policing that may influence the role of the community-policing officer .


© Copyright 1999 Robert B. Clayton