Section 2.3: Government Partnerships

Police Methods by Adam J. McKee

As policing students preparing to engage with the articles on “Government Partnerships,” it is essential to recognize their significance in understanding the evolving landscape of community policing and its deep integration with community governance. These readings offer a comprehensive view of how law enforcement agencies, government executives, and community organizations can collaborate for public safety and quality of life improvement.

You are encouraged to pay close attention to the strategies and frameworks proposed for effective community policing, noting especially the roles of various civic leaders, such as mayors and city managers, in steering this collaborative effort. The articles underline the necessity for a holistic approach in addressing complex social issues, emphasizing the importance of leveraging both governmental and non-governmental resources.

As future law enforcement professionals, understanding these dynamics will be crucial for your role in fostering safer, more cohesive communities. The articles will equip you with insights on the practical aspects of forming multidisciplinary partnerships, the challenges of inter-agency collaboration, and the innovative approaches to problem-solving in community policing, all of which are pivotal in shaping a modern, community-oriented policing framework.

City and Community Resources

The long-term success of community policing in transforming the law enforcement profession depends on the willingness of local governments to pursue effective integration. Elected and appointed administrators must understand the law enforcement agency’s implementation strategy and participate in its development. Mayors, city managers, legislative representatives, and other government executives must not be passive partners in this process; they must guide the expansion of this movement toward “community-oriented government” at the local level. Just as the police need to determine the best ways to respond to and solve problems of crime and violence, political leaders and service providers need to find ways to direct all available resources at these critical social problems. Law enforcement agencies alone do not have the resources to address all contemporary problems; however, community policing can be a catalyst for mobilizing resources at the national, State, and local levels to impact these problems more successfully.

Collaboration between the police agency and local government officials is essential, since officers and supervisors will routinely seek assistance from local government departments for services from sanitation to health. Regular communication with the heads of government agencies will help secure their assistance and will allow them to prepare their personnel for the additional service requests that will be received.

Nongovernment agencies and institutions constitute another important community asset. The chief or sheriff should enlist the support of these private agencies in community policing efforts. One department invited representatives from these organizations to participate in training sessions on community-oriented policing.

Depending on the nature and scope of the problem addressed, the composition of problem-solving teams could be restricted to police personnel or could include representatives from the community, government agencies, and social agencies. The department must develop close cooperative links with all community policing partners who contribute to the problem-solving process, and explicit procedures must be established that facilitate the appropriate use of resources.

Every member of the police organization can contribute to the development of a comprehensive list of available government and private resources. This list should include names, addresses, phone numbers, and a description of services. This information should be easily accessible to allow patrol officers, supervisors, and dispatchers to provide references to community members.

Source:  Understanding Community Policing:  A Framework for Action.   p. 28 – 29.

Advancing Community Policing Through Community Governance

Section I: The Emergence of Community Governance 

Community governance is a philosophical approach to local governance in which municipal agencies, city leaders, and the community (e.g., nonprofit and community-based organizations, individuals, and businesses) view themselves as partners and collaborate to address community problems and improve the overall quality of life. Community governance, still a relatively new concept, is being adopted in many cities and towns across the United States. These cities believe that there is a need for a holistic, collaborative approach to providing municipal services and addressing community problems. They recognize that city departments need to work with each other and the communities they serve to effectively address the complex, multidisciplinary challenges that face cities and towns today. Additionally, these jurisdictions understand that their agencies and the community can contribute a part of the answer to seemingly intractable community problems and, therefore, they regularly use the resources and expertise of both groups.

Some of community governance’s strongest advocates today include police chiefs, city managers and administrators, and mayors who have embraced the community governance concept for its ability to bring municipal agencies, community organizations, businesses, and individuals together and engage them to address local problems, improve community quality of life, and plan for the future. For many local leaders, especially police chiefs, community governance is the natural extension of community policing. It applies the community policing philosophy and its elements at the citywide level. For other local leaders, community governance has emerged from their understanding that both municipal agencies and the community have roles and responsibilities to fill. They include working together to share the responsibility for public safety and community quality of life. Municipal agency coordination and responsiveness are essential to these efforts but, unfortunately, generally have been lacking in matters requiring action across municipal agencies and with community organizations. Still other municipal leaders have begun to shift their approach from government (an institution) to governance (a process). These leaders often point to the need for civil servants to have new skill sets that allow them to act as facilitators, consensus builders, collaborators, and community builders who engage the public in decision-making processes. These ideas are also embraced by proponents of community policing, who stress that the police and the community share the responsibility for community safety and often act as facilitators and collaborators when engaging the community in problem solving efforts around crime and disorder issues.


The Transition from Community Policing to Community Governance

Many police departments engaged in community policing, as well as scholars who research it, have realized that police departments need a broad range of multidisciplinary partnerships with the community to address local public safety problems. This means partnerships with community-based organizations (e.g., advocacy organizations, faith-based groups, Rotary clubs), community businesses, individual community members, and government agencies— especially at the municipal level. Many police departments view partnerships with their fellow municipal agencies as an essential component of successful community policing. Police departments need the assistance of their municipal agency counterparts to address recurring crime, disorder, and other problem issues identified by the community. The problem of burglaries in overcrowded apartments or break-ins in abandoned or unkempt buildings, for example, often touch on code enforcement or environmental health issues. Similarly, youth vandalism of community parks has implications for police as well as parks and recreation, schools, and youth officials. 

In some communities, police officials and their municipal agency counterparts have been able to collaborate and work together easily to address address these issues and resolve or reduce identified problems.  In other communities, however, police officials have not been as successful in developing and maintaining collaborative relationships with their municipal agency counterparts and have attributed these difficulties to various organizational philosophies and approaches to service and collaboration. Still other communities have seen short-term successes in interdepartmental and community collaborations, but have used these methods merely as short-term responses to specific community problems rather than as an ongoing, citywide operating philosophy. For these reasons, there has been a growing interest, especially among policing leaders and city administrators, in seeing the elements of community policing and its service orientation adopted throughout of local government. These officials believe that such efforts will make their community policing efforts more successful and will contribute to a thriving community in which people want to live and work.


Section II: Defining Community Governance

Community governance, like community policing, is not a set of programs. Rather, community governance is a philosophical approach to local governance. At its core, community governance seeks to help cities better coordinate their service delivery and collaboratively solve community problems. Community governance focuses on “governance” as a process rather than on “government” as an institution. Community governance relies on municipal agencies to engage each other and work together and with their community to address community problems, improve the quality of life, and plan for the future. Agencies engaged in community governance, just like those engaged in community policing, need to make organizational changes to support this approach to local government. Four elements comprise the community governance philosophy:

      1. Partnerships among municipal agencies. 
      2. Partnerships with the community. 
      3. Collaborative problem-solving efforts. 
      4. Organizational change.

Element 1: Partnerships Among Municipal Agencies 

In community governance, municipalities take a collaborative, holistic approach to delivering services to the community. Municipal department staff members at all ranks and levels should not only be knowledgeable about the services provided by their colleagues in other city agencies, but also should work with each other and with the community to coordinate their responses to problems and to provide services. Municipal agency executives and their staff members may act as facilitators, consensus builders, and partnership builders in problem-solving efforts and decision-making processes. These efforts should focus on fostering inclusive processes that bring together diverse opinions and interests in the community and local government to concentrate on getting things done collectively. Municipal civil servants and elected officials—from city administrators to agency executives and their supervisory staffs—must be willing to provide resources, expertise, and time for their employees to develop strong collaborative relationships with other persons working in city government. The leaders in municipal agencies should encourage the employees they supervise to proactively address community concerns and they should hold employees accountable for their efforts. 

Operationalizing Partnerships Among Municipal Agencies 

In practice, municipal agencies should work together to achieve the common good for the community. This concept, however, is often easier to express in theory than in practice. The reality is that often a city’s leaders develop a vision for the community and its future, but each municipal agency has its own distinct mission and goals based on its competencies and role in local government. This can pose some challenges to providing a holistic approach to services because city agencies will clearly want to focus on the specific services they provide. Each agency’s mission and goals, therefore, should support the city’s overall vision.  

While each agency should focus on delivering the services in which it specializes, agency leaders and their staff members must realize that agency activities, decisions, policies, and procedures do not exist in isolation, but rather affect the rest of local government. This is one of many reasons why there needs to be timely and substantive communication across city agencies. Another reason is that each agency has specific strengths and can provide specific services. Coordinating the services can prove to be an efficient and effective use of resources. 

Communication among city agencies and coordination of activities are some of the first and easiest steps that municipal agencies can undertake in community governance. These efforts describe a relationship among city agencies; the next step is to move toward a partnership characterized by shared decision-making processes, the contribution of resources to address specific problems, and joint ownership of the results. Partnership activities require collaboration between municipal agency leaders and city administrators; both must view themselves and their colleagues as part of a city management team. These activities also require strong leadership and communication within municipal agencies— from executives to supervisors and their staff members and vice versa. Hence, partnerships require strong communication both horizontally and vertically within the city and its agencies’ structures. 

Within each agency, line-level staff members play an important role in fostering relationships and partnerships between municipal departments. For these reasons, municipal agency staff members should have an understanding of the services, expertise, and resources provided by others within the city and should be encouraged to collaborate with their colleagues from other agencies when working on broad issues. It is in these areas that the expertise of multiple departments will prove useful. 

A rash of graffiti by teenagers in neighborhood parks, for example, should be an impetus for parks and recreation officials to work with other city departments to respond to the problem. Law enforcement, sanitation, and code enforcement officials, as well as youth authorities can bring their own insights, experiences, and expertise to the situation. 

Role of Leadership 

City administrators’ leadership is critical to getting municipal agencies to work in partnership with each other. The idea of collaboration in government must be stressed at the highest levels of leadership within the city, as well as encouraged among all city employees. The administrator should stress that the city’s agencies and their staff members comprise a team that seeks to provide a comprehensive approach to local government services. He or she also must stress that there are no organizational “silos” within the city; departments must work together to address the needs of the community.

Within each municipal agency, the executive must also clearly stress the need for partnerships among municipal agencies and model that through his or her behavior. Within each organization, midlevel managers will be critical to the success of the department’s and the city’s efforts. These managers should be brought into the process early and engaged in these activities so they will be more likely to buy into the transition to community governance. Finally, the linelevel officers are the ambassadors for this work because they are encouraged to work with other city agency employees and community stakeholders to address community issues and problems. These efforts clearly require the daily support of agency leaders.

Challenges to Implementation and Sustainability 

Municipalities that want to develop stronger partnerships between municipal agencies can expect challenges as they make the transition to community governance. Some of the most pressing issues cities may face include poor relations between municipal agencies, unsuccessful past attempts at collaboration, and a lack of interest in developing partnerships. Cities should identify where these challenges are present and take steps to address these issues. 

Poor relations between municipal agencies.  In some cities, a few municipal agencies have a history of tense relations with other city departments. This may come from a perceived view that one agency and its employees have more resources at their disposal than other agencies or that an agency does not view itself as part of city government. These poor relations can also emerge from friction between municipal department heads that over time become a part of agency culture. Regardless of why these poor relations exist, they pose challenges to adopting the community governance philosophy. Here, the role of leadership is once again paramount. The city administrators set the tone for how municipal agencies do or do not work together. By stressing partnerships, modelling the behaviors, and rewarding partnerships, cities can begin to take steps to build and strengthen collaborative efforts.

Unsuccessful past attempts at collaboration. Some city leaders and staff members may view the move toward community governance with scepticism and they may approach these ideas with a “been there, done that” outlook. They may believe that they have undertaken some of these efforts in the past but for any number of reasons—such as political will or lack of funding—they did not continue down that path in the long term. For these individuals, it is particularly important to explain why the city is adopting the community governance philosophy and what efforts it is undertaking to ensure sustainability over time.

Lack of interest in developing partnerships. For some municipal agency staff members and their leadership, the idea of working in partnership to address community issues is new. For many, partnerships may be viewed as yet another task added to their workload. They may not see the purpose of these efforts or why they should engage in them. Furthermore, they may view building relationships and partnerships with their other city colleagues as taking them away from their other work responsibilities. This may particularly be the case with midlevel supervisors concerned about allocating resources to partnership activities, especially if it is not part of the city’s scheme for evaluating employees. Without midlevel managers’ support of their staff members’ partnership activities, these efforts face significant challenges. To address some of these challenges, city leaders should explain how community governance efforts can actually help city employees and the community they serve.

Element 2: Partnerships with the Community 

Community members are essential partners of municipalities that are committed to community governance. Along with individuals, other stakeholders include community-based and nonprofit organizations (e.g., faith-based organizations, issue advocacy groups, fraternal organizations, and service providers, and local elementary and secondary schools), community businesses, and individuals. They also include other municipal government agencies and agencies at the state and federal levels (e.g., state department of corrections, Federal Bureau of Investigation). Community stakeholders help municipal agencies determine priorities, and they contribute time and resources to addressing identified problems. When confronting neighborhood issues, local schools in particular can convey trust and credibility in the municipal government to residents while encouraging their involvement. By devoting their own resources, the community stakeholders show their commitment to working with their municipal agency partners. The community should be recognized for its efforts and also should also be held accountable, as should city government. This notion of dual accountability stresses that community safety and quality of life are the shared responsibility of the community and its local government.

Operationalizing Partnerships with the Community 

Municipalities engaged in community governance efforts develop partnerships with community stakeholders to address problems and enhance overall quality of life in the community.

These partnerships with the community are similar in many ways to the partnerships previously described among municipal agencies. The move toward partnerships is characterized first by creating (where needed) and strengthening communication between community stakeholders and municipal government. As with partnerships among municipal agencies, partnerships with the community are characterized by joint identification of problem areas, collaboratively developing and implementing a plan to address the problems, and jointly owning the results of the efforts. 

Partnership efforts with the community provide a vehicle through which local government can listen to the community and identify what community members think are their most pressing issues. To be successful, local government officials need to be open and honest, rather than defensive about the challenges facing the city and its neighborhoods. City leaders also need to engage a range of stakeholders that represent various interests in the community. This provides government officials with a balanced perspective of community views. Too often, cities rely on a small but active group of individuals to provide input. Community governance seeks to broaden these efforts and include comprehensive interests in problem-solving efforts. Community governance recognizes that local people want to be involved in what affects their daily lives and neighborhood—and it take steps to encourage their involvement. 

Community members are not passive actors in community governance; rather, they are expected to contribute resources to address problems and improve quality of life. Clearly, individual community members and even community organizations are not expected to bear the entire cost of working to resolve the problem. Instead, by investing some of their own resources to address a problem, the community, and not just the local government, has a stake in the outcome. Community members can bring a wide variety of resources, such as time, knowledge, skills, and money, to the table. These efforts need to be nurtured and sustained over time. 

The process of developing and sustaining partnerships with community stakeholders helps local government officials in many ways: It helps them identify problem areas; it assists departments in identifying their strengths and weaknesses in providing services; and it provides local government employees with direct feedback from the public they serve. There are other benefits to partnerships, as well. Partnership efforts not only encourage the public to become more engaged with their local government, but also provide a vehicle for community education. Community members who partner with local government learn about their city and how municipal government functions. They learn who to go to when they experience various problems, and they become aware of the limited resources and the restrictions on activities that the municipal agencies face. Additionally, community members learn about activities that violate local ordinances, and they are more likely to report those violations when they see them, or to let their neighbors know about the ordinances. Partnership activities also stress that municipal departments are part of a city team that provide services. This can enhance the public’s trust in various city agencies. Another by-product of partnerships with the community is an increased community capacity to deal with problems. Neighborhoods learn the skills they need to work together to take on important neighborhood issues. They understand what resources exist in the community and how they can be put to use (along with government resources). This knowledge gives the community the confidence and wherewithal to take actions independently where they can best address a problem and to work with local government to address other challenges. 

Role of Leadership 

In many aspects, the role of city leadership in developing and strengthening partnerships with the community is similar to the role it should play in building and sustaining those partnerships among municipal agencies. City administrators and municipal department executives must continually emphasize and model the behaviors they want to see from staff members of all municipal government agencies. They also need to cultivate and ensure that they have the support of midlevel managers. Their support and guidance of line-level staff members are at the core of developing partnerships. To get support from midlevel managers, some organizational changes may be needed, such as criteria for promotion and evaluation of employees.

There are also some distinct aspects to the role of leadership in building partnerships with the community. City leaders must use some of their own personal “capital” to get members of the community involved in community governance. Often, personally contacting community members will gain their participation. City administrators, the executives of municipal agencies, and many senior managers in the agencies have a wide variety of community contacts on which to draw. 

Another area in which city administrators and their department heads need to assert leadership is in marketing the city team to the community. At community events, some members of city agencies are much easier to spot than others. Police officers, for example, are easily recognized by their uniform, and many citizens view them as a symbol of security for the neighborhood. Other city agency staff members may be present at these events but are not recognized as such. Even if they are recognized, some community members will still approach a police officer to discuss a problem, even one that is not traditionally in the officer’s purview (e.g., a complaint about a broken stove in front of a neighbor’s house for three weeks). For these reasons, city managers need to market the entire city team and build knowledge with the public about what each department does. These efforts reinforce the idea that the city departments comprise a team and that all have important contributions to make in addressing community problems and maintaining and improving quality of life. These efforts also have the potential to motivate staff members to engage in community governance activities. 

Challenges to Implementation and Sustainability 

Municipalities that want to develop stronger partnerships with community stakeholders can also expect challenges as they make the transition to community governance. Some of the most pressing issues cities may face include committing to the hard work of building partnerships, a lack of interest in partnerships among members of the community, and community concerns about the transition to community governance. Cities should take steps to identify and address these challenges. 

Building partnerships is hard work. Developing partnerships and sustaining them over the long run is challenging. It is not an effort that municipalities can engage in periodically over time or only when they face crises and expect to succeed. Rather, this is an effort that must be continuous among municipal agencies. Developing partnerships requires time and effort from agency staff—time that some supervisors and staff members may feel would be better spent on other work. Similarly, it takes a lot of time and energy to educate the public about local government and to gather input into future efforts. These efforts, however, are essential to any agency wanting to adopt the community governance philosophy. 

Lack of interest among the community. Community engagement in local issues tends to wax and wane. Community members tend to be more active during times of crisis and often are less active when they are satisfied with the current situation. This challenge can be quite difficult to overcome. Cities, therefore, should undertake a wide variety of activities to engage people from different backgrounds and interests. When cities always rely on a small group of persons, sustaining their efforts will be difficult because people get tired and burned out. Additionally, cities should look at how technology can help them engage the public while recognizing the limitations of this approach, namely, that it excludes a segment of the population that is not technologically savvy. City leaders should also take steps to continually reach out to the neighborhoods and people who generally avoid participating in government.

Community concerns. Community members often become highly engaged when NIMBY (not in my backyard) issues come to their attention. For example, in some communities, transitional housing for persons returning to the community from prison is a highly controversial issue and often neighborhoods express concern that they are not getting a fair share of city resources compared to other neighbourhoods. Education efforts can help to counter both types of community concerns. These education efforts, however, may require cities to devote a significant amount of time to building a knowledge base on the issue. For these reasons, it is also important to engage community members from the outset when these decisions are being made. Community members can then better understand how and why decisions are made, and cities can build community support for their efforts.

Another community concern focuses on personnel matters. For some cities engaged in community governance, city employees become well-known in various neighborhoods. Community members feel that they work well with these individuals and would like to see them stay in the neighborhood. When these staff members are promoted, some community members may become upset that “their” city employee will no longer be working with them, and the neighborhood residents may be a bit apprehensive about working with someone new. City leaders sometimes need to step in and reassure community members that a personnel change does not indicate that they have abandoned community governance, but rather gives the staff member the chance to expand his or her skills.

Element 3: Collaborative Problem-Solving Efforts 

Municipal agencies engaged in community governance develop collaborative relationships with each other and with the community they serve. These relationships and partnerships can be leveraged for problem-solving activities that focus on specific community problems that run the gamut of local government responsibilities, such as public safety, public health, environmental protection, business development, and housing issues. Collaborative problem solving efforts provide a vehicle by which local municipal agencies can identify existing and emerging community concerns and develop collaborative efforts to address them. Collaborative problem-solving efforts bring the community into local government decision-making, and, in doing so, educate community members about how government operates and the issues facing the city as viewed by a broad range of community stakeholders. Collaborative problem solving also shares the responsibility of community quality of life and public safety between municipal government and the community. Each entity has its own roles and responsibilities, as well as specific competencies and resources that can be brought to bear on complex community problems. 

Operationalizing Collaborative Problem-Solving Efforts 

Collaborative problem solving is an analytic process for identifying and analyzing specific problems and then, developing and evaluating responses to the problems. The SARA model (scanning, analysis, response and assessment) is one example of a problem-solving process. An analytical process is essential to problem-solving efforts because it helps stakeholders distinguish between symptoms of a problem and root causes, thereby understanding the problem. Through problem solving, stakeholders try to identify and work on root causes of problems. These activities should not be limited to those who hold management positions in municipal government. Cities engaged in collaborative problem solving encourage staff members at all levels of municipal agencies to engage in this process.

Collaborative problem-solving efforts give city employees a broad vision of their job so they can view and understand problems as they are experienced by community members who live and work in the area. Municipal agency staff members engaged in collaborative problem-solving efforts have the benefit of working closely with the community and developing a better understanding of what various community stakeholders see as existing and emerging issues that need to be addressed, and what they want their city to be like in the future. The problems identified in this process often may not always be the same as the problems that city officials have noted. Community members may bring new issues and problems to the attention of city officials. By working collaboratively with the community, city officials can also begin to identify priorities in various neighborhoods. These priorities may or may not be what city officials expect to hear from community stakeholders. 

Once problems have been identified jointly by municipal agencies and community stakeholders, they need to choose the problems they want to work on first. This decision can be quite challenging in communities where there are a number of issues that persons are highly interested in addressing. It is particularly important, therefore, to enumerate the reasons for working on a specific problem first. Additionally, it is critical for all stakeholders to note that complex community problems are not one-dimensional, but rather touch on many areas, a number of which were likely already identified by stakeholders. For example, many communities experience high rates of recidivism of persons returning to the community after release from jail. If this is an issue a community wants to address, a number of related problems will be touched on, such as mental health services, substance abuse services, education, employment, housing, and family matters.

It is also important that all stakeholders know that collaborative problem solving is not a single, one-time effort and that other problems will be tackled over time. Agencies can also work on multiple issues at a certain point, given agency and community interest and resources. When communities identify emerging issues, they may want to take steps to address them before they reach a crisis level. Additionally, cities planning various activities, such as major street improvements, will want to engage the community in identifying and making plans to mitigate potential problems resulting from the work. Efforts to engage citizens and seek their input can help projects move forward. 

After municipal agency and community stakeholders decide which issues they will work on first, they conduct a thorough analysis of each problem. For this process, information and data from both municipal agencies and the community will be important. Community data may take the form of anecdotes, personal experiences, or more systemized data. City agencies collect a wide variety of data that can prove useful to the process of analyzing a local problem. Police agencies that utilize geographic information systems, such as mapping or CompStat, may find those resources and technologies helpful. Agencies that have begun to take steps to bring their various citywide technologies and resources together will find that those efforts prove exceptionally useful in collaborative problem solving.

Critical to any analysis effort is information-sharing. For collaborative problem solving to be successful, municipal agencies must be willing to share their data with their city partners and with the community and vice versa. Clearly, all data-sharing should be conducted in accordance with local, state, and federal statutes; some of these may place restrictions on the type of information and with whom data can be shared. Municipal legal departments can clarify these regulations and convey the restrictions to community stakeholders. This transparency can help community members understand why specific, personalized information cannot be shared, for example. 

Once stakeholders have utilized available data and information to develop a broad understanding of the problem, they develop and later implement specific plans to eliminate or reduce the problem. These implementation plans may call on both community stakeholders and the local government, to commit time and resources to address the problem. 

Problem-solving activities should be evaluated to determine their success and whether stakeholders should continue or end specific efforts. When results of an effort are not as successful as hoped, problem-solving models encourage stakeholders to reconsider their analyses and conduct further studies or implement new activities to address the problem. 

Role of Leadership

City administrators and municipal department executives should encourage agency staff at all levels to use problem-solving processes with the community and also within their own agencies to address specific problems. The more municipal agency staff members use these tools and skills, the more they will become a part of everyday activities and, hence, become institutionalized in the agency culture. 

City and agency leaders also should cultivate, and ensure that they have the support of, midlevel managers. Their support and guidance of line-level staff members are at the core of developing and sustaining collaborative problem solving. As discussed in the other elements, to gain support from midlevel managers, some organizational changes may be needed in the criteria for promotion and evaluation of employees. These changes would stress the importance of problem solving. 

Challenges to Implementation and Sustainability 

Municipalities that want to have strong collaborative problem-solving efforts between municipal agencies and the community can expect challenges as they make the transition to community governance. Some of the most pressing issues cities may face include a lack of interest by the community and technological challenges.

Lack of interest in the community. A lack of interest within the community poses challenges to collaborative problem solving, just as it does to developing partnerships within the community. Interest in problem solving may vary over time depending on the issues that are being addressed.

Just as when the city develops partnerships, it also should take steps to engage a wide variety of stakeholders in collaborative problem-solving efforts. City officials should also stress to the community that these efforts are not simply processes to gain input. Rather, collaborative problem solving implies that municipal agencies and the community collaborate through the entire process of problem solving. This idea will be new for some members of the community and it may take some time for them to get used to the fact that they are not only expected to voice their opinions, but also to contribute to improving a situation or solving a problem. This transition from passive to active participation is a benefit that cities can stress to show that the city is engaged in a collaborative effort to be responsive to community needs. 

Technological challenges.  Collaborative problem-solving activities require that municipal agencies contribute their relevant information to analysis activities. This allows for a an understanding of a much broader picture of the problem. The tools used by various municipal agencies are not always interoperable, nor are there mechanisms through which information can be shared or combined. These technological problems can affect the efficiency and sometimes even the quality of information that can be analyzed for problem-solving purposes. For these reasons, cities engaged in collaborative problem solving need to develop processes through which municipal agencies can share information with each other. Cities should work through any technological challenges that make these activities difficult to undertake. 


Source:  COPS Office.  Advancing Community Policing Through Community Governance: A Framework Document. 

Modification History

File Created:  08/10/2019

Last Modified:  01/11/2023

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1 thought on “Section 2.3: Government Partnerships

  1. The fourth element that comprises the community governance philosophy (Organizational change) and its descriptive paragraph is missing from the book.

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