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Re-evaluating community policing in a polycentric system



Elinor Ostrom and her colleagues in The Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University in Bloomington conducted fieldwork in metropolitan police departments across the United States. Their findings in support of community policing dealt a blow to the popular belief that consolidation and centralization of services was the only way to effectively provide citizens with public goods. However, subsequent empirical literature suggests that the widespread implementation of community policing has been generally ineffective and in many ways unsustainable. We argue that the failures are the result of strategic interplay between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that has resulted in the prioritization of federal over community initiatives, the militarization of domestic police, and the erosion of genuine community-police partnerships.


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