The Future of Community-Policing: How crowdsourcing can mutually benefit law enforcement and citizens

community policing

As reminders of the escalating tension and broken trust between police departments and the communities they serve grow more and more frequent, law enforcement agencies are equally stepping up their efforts to improve community relations. From cities trying to recruit more minority officers to President Obama’s Executive Order that established a Task Force on 21st Century Policing, it is clear that reducing tensions and strengthening community trust and collaboration is, and continues to be, a top priority for law enforcement.

Without question, in this age of unfiltered social media, law enforcement must be diligent in selecting innovative methods of communication. In our work with domestic and international police departments, we have witnessed crowdsourcing technology’s positive role in facilitating the restorative process between citizens and police officers. Crowdsourcing platforms provide the infrastructure for quality, large-scale conversations. In particular, when they are instituted with intention and proven moderation practices, they can produce these results:

  • Increased avenues for citizens to be heard. Crowdsourcing platforms help break barriers between police and citizens, and allow for agencies to collaborate with the public in order to respond to public concerns. For instance, the New York Police Department started a pilot program in order to get feedback directly from citizens about things that the NYPD could do to help improve quality of life.
  • Hyper-local, moderated conversation. Platforms like IdeaScale allow police to have a localized (specific zip codes) and focused conversation with a larger group of residents. Submissions are made anonymously and commanders can screen out issues that are not police actionable. For residents, they are able to participate in an easy, low-impact way. That is, they can contribute from anywhere at anytime, thereby lowering the barrier to participation.
  • Community-sourced agendas for action. Because citizens are helping police determine which issues resonate within their communities, they therefore are able to direct attention and police resources to what needs to be addressed. These are issues that are most important to people at that time and place.
  • Decreased crime and increased transparency. Police can track work on actionable items, interact on specific issues, and show results using real two-way communication. In this light, NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner Zach Tumin recently announced that our work together has directly helped increase community engagement, empower command, uncover new crime insights, and increase quality of life and safety for both officers and citizens in NYC.

This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

This post is by Tim Sussman, Director of Government Solutions at IdeaScale.


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