Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



In: The future of law enforcement: A consideration of potential allies and adversaries, edited by J. A. Scherer & J. P. Jarvis,141-150. Quantico, VA: Federal Bureau of Investigations.


A popular axiom attributed to British policing is the police are the public and the public are the police. Inherent in this term is a blurring of the distinction between the police and the public they serve; the police are cast as being little different from the citizenry and citizens are cast into a role of responsibility for the safety and well-being of the community. In effect, communities are framed as allies in the fight to ensure safe and secure neighborhoods. Across space and time this idea has held uneven sway within American policing ideologies. This essay considers the relationship between the police and the policed, as well as how that relationship might be influenced be technological and social evolutions. The essay begins with an overview of the very notion of ―community‖ and their relationship with crime and disorder. This is followed by a brief review of the historical trajectory of police-community interactions within American policing. We then consider how emerging and future technologies might modify what ―community‖ means. The essay concludes with a consideration of police and community interactions and partnerships in the digital age.