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AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION
Consistent with the founding principles of the Regional Centers for Policing Innovation network and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), every Center within the RCPI network provides training and technical assistance on certain topics that have been undertaken as training initiatives of the COPS Office. Additionally, however, Centers are encouraged to develop their own areas of specialization in order to meet the needs of their catchment areas. The Texas RCPI currently specializes in: (a) distance learning and interactive television, (b) formation and maintenance of police/probation partnerships, and (c) efforts to include in community policing historically excluded populations.
Distance Learning and Interactive Television
Society today is rapidly gaining in technological advances. Keeping abreast of these changes, TRCPI is committed to delivering training by employing both web-based streaming video as well as interactive television in the classroom. By utilizing both of these services, TRCPI is able to reach some of the most remote regions in the state of Texas, thereby effectively providing training to many of our constituents.
Forming partnerships with others is a fundamental principle of community policing. So too are prevention and early intervention. Police/probation partnerships are emerging as effective means of maintaining in the community offenders who are high risk for reoffending where such placement is appropriate, and quickly returning them to more secure placements (i.e., prison) where dictated by the needs of public safety.
Not only does this approach fit well within the community policing framework, but also, it dovetails nicely with contemporary movements in community supervision. The Reinventing Probation movement, for example, seeks, among other things, to get probation officers out in the field. This approach parallels decentralization efforts in policing. Moreover, the Broken Windows Probation philosophy emphasizes prevention using techniques and models that borrow directly from Community Oriented Policing.
Historically Excluded Populations
Community policing is premised on the notion of community involvement. In a pluralistic and democratic society, it is important that we include all relevant stakeholders. Some segments of the community have been left out of community policing efforts because of their legal status and historical tension between themselves and the police. Undocumented persons and gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered people fall into this category. Others have been left out because of assumptions about their ability to participate as full members of the community-assumptions that are often erroneous. Children fall into this category, as do people with mental illness or cognitive impairment.
Outreach efforts with these populations are in keeping with the tenets of community policing in several key ways. First, community policing is about problem solving and each of these populations has its own set of crime and social disorder problems (e.g., children, bullying; gay / lesbian / bisexual / transgendered people, hate crimes; mentally ill and cognitively impaired people, problematic encounters with the police; undocumented persons, armed robbery).
Second, community involvement should encompass the full range of persons for whom police services are made available. Everyone within the jurisdiction of every police agency in the United States has certain civil rights, including access to police services and protection. Moreover, these rights do not lay dormant until one reaches the age of majority.
Finally, the prevention and early intervention philosophy of community policing suggests that we should reach out to those we know are at heightened risk for victimization, whether by robbery, bullying, hate crimes, or manipulation and exploitation. The early intervention philosophy also encourages us to prepare youth for civic responsibilities before those responsibilities are thrust upon them. Involvement in community policing effort promotes that goal.