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New Wine in Old Bottles: The Time Has Come for Therapeutic Community Policing for Youth

Becker, Harold K
June 4, 2015

Source: (2000) International Journal of Police Science Management. 3(2):103-110.

Data collection was conducted during 1997-98 and was of a non-experimental descriptive design. Data were obtained by a series of surveys and personal interviews with police and youths in gang and non-gang neighborhoods in four California counties. A total of 151 youths were surveyed and separated into two categories: youths living in gang neighborhoods (GNs) and youths living in non-gang neighborhoods (NGNs). The youths in GNs had approximately two times the amount of alcohol and drug usage and were more negatively influenced by aggressive police behavior (being arrested); gangs (gang membership, gang sign language, tattoos, and wearing gang attire); fear of crime (the carrying of weapons for self-protection); and the potential for physical conflict between youths and the police. Police were overly optimistic about the influence of community policing on youths, and they showed a lack of understanding of at-risk youths and how to deal with them in positive ways. The community policing programs made no distinction between the levels of risk for youths. If the police are to be successful in preventing youth crime, there must be greater positive interaction between police and youth, and the police must achieve a more accurate assessment of youth problems. There must also be a decrease in aggressive police behavior toward youth. It is necessary to move beyond the current community policing concept to a therapeutic community policing model that relies on open communication, participation, and trust to prevent at-risk behavior by youths.


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