Establishing Goals and Objectives

Good Practice 1

Approach community engagement and community-oriented policing as long-term, sustained strategies, not short-term tactics, and do the requisite research in order to understand local problems and grievances so that a local community is not targeted for security reasons but is engaged for its own benefit.

Community engagement requires building trust between officials and community members in order to establish a relationship of collaboration. Experience proves that such relationships cannot be built overnight and should be cultivated and maintained over time in order to have effect. It is critical to have at least the beginnings of such relationships in place before engaging the community on the issue of radicalization to violence and empowering them to become part of the solution. Furthermore, officials should approach communities with basic knowledge of their local dynamics and the issues they face in order to demonstrate to the community that they are not engaging the community solely because of potential security threats arising within the community. Both officials and community leaders emphasize that a securitized relationship – one in which the security concerns of officials crowd out community concerns in other areas of government responsibility – is counterproductive to genuine community engagement and ultimately leads to distrust and bad relations. In community-oriented policing, initiatives should focus on proactively engaging the local community to share information and better serve their needs – not just employing traditional law enforcement methods or gathering security related information.

 

Good Practice 2

Establish the methods with which to build trust in the community.

Trust is an integral part of community engagement and community-oriented policing, but one that does not occur naturally and without concerted and sustained efforts. Community members across many regions have stated that to build trust, practitioners and officials should be honest and transparent in their efforts to engage the community, respect the community’s traditions and culture, listen to their grievances and make demonstrable efforts to address them, and ensure that they maintain integrity and professionalism in their conduct and interactions with the community. If possible, it is helpful to use officials who come from a similar culture and background to the community with which they are engaging; this can help facilitate trust. Openness, candor and humor are powerful tools in the hands of engaging officials; however, humor should be used with great care, as it does not always translate well across cultures. Engaging officials need to be accessible to communities when communities need them.

 

Good Practice 3

Ensure that engagement efforts are broad based and fully inclusive, not solely focused on one community or one specific ideology.

It is important to counter all ideologically-motivated crime, taking in- to account that the appeal to committing violent actions by an individual in a community is based on a violent ideology that justifies these actions. Furthermore, engaging only certain communities or ideologies undercuts the credibility of governments and practitioners who declare that violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations must be countered. Those undertaking community engagement and community-oriented policing efforts should therefore define the parameters of violent extremism and counter it impartially in whatever forms it may take.