top of page

Adaptable Community Policing Officers: Navigating Challenges and Building Trust

Two police on a road


Community Policing Officers (CPOs) play a crucial role in maintaining peace, safety, and trust within their communities. The COVID-19 pandemic brought forth unprecedented challenges that required CPOs to adapt and find innovative ways to serve their communities. This blog explores how CPOs demonstrated their adaptability, emphasized the value of empathy, and highlighted the importance of proactive community engagement during the pandemic.

Adaptability in the Face of Unprecedented Challenges

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the traditional practices of CPOs. What once worked to fulfill their roles no longer applied in the new normal. However, CPOs across different communities rallied as a team to overcome these challenges and serve their communities effectively.

Communities were hit hard by the pandemic, creating new opportunities for CPOs to step up and make a difference. For instance, some CPOs found themselves delivering food to those in need, demonstrating their commitment to community service. This shift in focus allowed them to address pressing issues and support those most affected by the pandemic.

The Value of Empathy in Problem Solving

During the pandemic, CPOs recognized the incredible value of empathy when working with their communities to identify and resolve pandemic-related problems. They shared stories of how empathy and teamwork allowed them to address issues in a holistic and caring manner.

For example, CPOs encountered a lady and her two children facing dire circumstances, living in a motel room with limited resources. Through empathy, they connected her with housing options and even organized furniture donations for her new home. Such acts of compassion and understanding made a world of difference in the lives of those they served.

The Shift from Reactive to Proactive Policing

The pandemic reinforced the importance of proactive policing for CPOs. They realized the power of positive interactions with the public, emphasizing that a simple smile or a friendly facial expression could de-escalate tense situations. Unfortunately, the use of masks during the pandemic hindered this practice, but once restrictions were lifted, CPOs noticed the positive impact of being able to smile at the community.

Additionally, CPOs understood that meaningful conversations with community members who may be causing problems were more impactful than immediate reprimands. These conversations allowed them to empathize with individuals and, in many cases, find non-punitive solutions to issues.

CPOs believed in the need to differentiate themselves from traditional patrol officers, who are often seen as the enforcers of the law. By engaging with individuals and showing them respect, CPOs aimed to build positive relationships, especially following incidents like the murder of George Floyd, which had led to community backlash against the police. These efforts aimed to rebuild trust and demonstrate that CPOs are there to serve and protect their communities.

The Importance of Integrated Resourcing

Finally, it's essential to understand that effective Community Oriented Policing (COP) requires integrated resourcing. CPOs recognized that they were doing vital work in their communities, but they lacked the necessary resources to fully realize their potential. In many cases, proactive policing requires a multi-pronged approach, involving not just the police but also social services, city resources, and more. The lack of these resources hindered their ability to address crime problems effectively and impacted their ability to differentiate themselves from reactive policing models.

In essence, the study of CPOs' experiences during the pandemic underscores the theoretical assumptions of COP, emphasizing the importance of relationship-building and trust within the community. It also highlights the challenges faced by CPOs when trying to implement COP in less than ideal conditions, such as during a pandemic. The ability to adapt, show empathy, engage proactively with the community, and secure adequate resources are all critical factors in the success of community-oriented policing.


Community Policing Officers proved their adaptability and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, reaffirming the importance of community-oriented policing. Their dedication to building trust, solving problems with empathy, and shifting towards proactive engagement with their communities is commendable. For COP to be truly effective, adequate resources and support are essential. By recognizing and addressing these challenges, CPOs can continue to serve as pillars of strength within their communities, fostering cooperation and understanding in the face of adversity.


bottom of page