Community Policing and Human Terrain

I think it’s important for TI or anyone for that matter to get acquainted and understand the modern policing and how it defines its own role in society. Remember the saying “if you’ve done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about”? The premise of that saying is that police will only react to the crime or criminal behavior. Modern day policing is different animal all together where the emphasis is placed on society as a whole having to self-police through self-governing informal and formal social norms, implied and learned behavior and police have tools resembling invisible strings to influence communities through various newly baked doctrines (at least thats what they think). Community is treated as a unit, who’s needs and problems can be addressed through multi agency cooperation, monitoring and intervention. Implied assumption is that community knows whats best for it. I guess this model would work if everyone participated in the closed knit community as in primitive democracy aka one household so information flow is distributed evenly and openly to everyone (at least in theory). Now this model lowered from above and it’s implementation is not self-organizing, the structure is not self-serving and it does not really represent a community, but something community as a whole doesn’t even know exist. Communities exist only on paper, only as units of appearance. Is it a form of control by hidden hand where benefits outweigh possible quirks and abuses? It looks like a shift from individualism that free society is supposed to value, defend and respect towards something free society isn’t. Maybe issues raised by anti-communitarian activists are worth looking into?

Community policing is a value system which permeates a police department, in which the primary organizational goal is working cooperatively with individual citizens, groups of citizens, and both public and private organizations to identify and resolve issues which potentially effect the livability of specific neighborhoods, areas, or the city as a whole. Community-based police departments recognize the fact that the police cannot effectively deal with such issues alone, and must partner with others who share a mutual responsibility for resolving problems. Community policing stresses prevention, early identification, and timely intervention to deal with issues before they become unwieldy problems. Individual officers tend to function as general-purpose practitioners who bring together both government and private resources to achieve results. Officers are encouraged to spend considerable time and effort in developing and maintaining personal relationships with citizens, businesses, schools, and community organizations.

Rather than merely responding to demands for police services, the department employees a Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) approach: identifying emergent problems, gathering data, bringing together stakeholders, and implementing specific strategies targeting the problem. The police response to an on-going or repetitive problem seldom involves only police resources. The police are concerned not only with high-visibility crimes, but with minor offenses which contribute to fear of crime, and negatively effect public perception of city or neighborhood safety

What is problem oriented policing approach?

Problem-oriented policing (POP) is a policing strategy that involves the identification and analysis of specific crime and disorder problems, in order to develop effective response strategies in conjunction with ongoing assessment. This strategy places more emphasis on research and analysis as well as crime prevention and the engagement of public and private organizations in the reduction of community problems.

Another policing strategy that is implemented along the lines of POP and community policing is Intelligence Led Policing.

Intelligence-led policing (ILP) is a policing model that has emerged in recent years which is “built around risk assessment and risk management.”ILP is “a strategic, future-oriented and targeted approach to crime control, focusing upon the identification, analysis and ‘management’ of persisting and developing ‘problems’ or ‘risks.’” In simpler terms, “it is a model of policing in which intelligence serves as a guide to operations, rather than the reverse.

Community policing serves also as a source of third party policing and intelligence policing. It’s strange how many definitions and arguments exists in criminology literature of these strategies and disciplines knowing how widely are they implemented. It just shows that interpretation and evolution is ongoing just as society is catching up to them. One thing is clear – these strategies do not help to solve the crime – the idea is for them to help to prevent and reduce crime. Maybe it’s because of realization that punishment for the crime isn’t effective measure – it’s expensive and changes little apart of isolation of the criminal. Each of new policing strategy implementation and transition is gradual and doesn’t show the whole picture. Modern and old methods coexists hand in hand. Now police gets involved not in solving crimes, but in solving problems. So what if you haven’t committed a crime and unexplained authority is paying attention to you? Who defined you as a problem? Is it a rumor? Or rumor is a pretext? If you have no or little reputation (like someone who just moved into the area) you can be on extremely shaky ground and very vulnerable.

The shift from evidence based towards intelligence based policing also fits into bigger picture of global war on terror where assumption is that intelligence is the key in preventing incidents of terrorism. Where am i going with this? The recent highly controversial and very expensive DOD program called Human Terrain Systems that is being widely employed in war theater in the Afghanistan and Iraq. The name itself is something causing a pause as if people are something to be walked over. Controversy is basically coming only from progressive anthropologists themselves as they argue that “asking an anthropologist to gather intelligence that may lead to someone’s death or imprisonment […] is like asking an army doctor to kill a wounded insurgent”; it goes against their code of ethics and is wrong in many different levels. Why I’m making connection with community policing or policing in general? Not me:

Although the past shows incidents of the abuse of this information (local copy), the current human terrain system has been used effectively to allow communities in Iraq and Afghanistan to self govern through informal forms of social control, while teaching organic law enforcement agencies to provide the more formal forms of social control (when needed). This environment is similar to the development of the community policing model in the United States. Community-oriented policing is not a new phenomenon in the history of policing; however it, too, has had a questionable history at times, which has led to the current form of intelligence-led, problem-solving policing.

Basically what they argue that occupied culture already has informal community policing models in place that is just different than of ours. So we need an interpreting/analytical tools to understand these mechanism in order to influence and exploit them for everyones (occupiers and occupied) good.

Information on social groups and their interests, beliefs, and leaders, and what drives a group of people to adhere to a commonly held set of rules for conduct is a core necessity for maintaining social order in both a domestic law enforcement setting and on the foreign battle field through human terrain systems. The social order of a community is maintained largely through the influence and enforcement of informal social controls which can be supported by the presence of agents that support both governmental and non-governmental partners within the community

Successful implementation of the community-oriented policing would have involved the citizenry in identifying problems and allowed for an open relationship with law enforcement where these problems could be addressed”. Most glaring was the assumption of many agencies that they could adopt the mantle of community-oriented policing without tackling the most important aspects of the movement; fully engaging the community in the co-production of public safety.

So in essence it’s all about compliance and effective mechanisms to enforce it under guise of self-governance. Another sentence that could be applied to organized stalking: “community-oriented policing does not take into account the development of the community into self governance, which comes as a result of the individuals within the community taking responsibility for controlling those that deviate from the social norm”. It doesn’t mean that TI’s are targeted because they are deviant from social norms (although it might be – idea of normalcy is pretty much oxymoron term). This quote just points to informal social control mechanisms that exists without us even noticing them as we have learned to fear and respect them, but how do you exploit them? Is it possible to amplify them towards a targeted person by using existing dynamic environment? Hard to say. But looking at screen shots of software used to generate and analyze “human terrain” in Afghanistan/Iraq it doesn’t look like far fetched idea. If you map non-aversive patterns that targeted individual experience daily and inject aversive element to sensitize him/her to these elements through association, the task is not that hard. Most of the work would be done by TI themselves.


Law enforcement around the world in fight against crime and terrorism is adopting convergence strategy ( – very complex and wide reaching options to fuse and analyze information to detect, prevent crime and enforce the law in fight against terrorism.

Policing must be a convergent strategy that fights crime and disorder while creating hostile environments for terrorists. The theme of convergence illustrates the coupling of local resources, namely police, with the ability to recognize ordinary crimes that terrorists have been known to commit in preparation for their operational attack: committing traffic violations, obtaining fake identification papers, smuggling, human trafficking, counterfeiting, committing piracy, drug trafficking, or participating in any other criminal enterprise that intersects with terrorists’ needs. Local police serve as the eyes and ears of communities; as such, they are best positioned to observe behaviors that have a nexus to terrorism. It has been the LAPD’s goal to institutionalize the idea of counterterrorism efforts throughout the department and the communities it serves—not to make counterterrorism measures the priority, but a priority. Converging community policing and counterterrorism strategies and implementing them under the guiding philosophy of intelligence-led policing will focus law enforcement efforts and better equip agencies to partner with communities in the pursuit to make the United States safe. Ultimately, the success of all of these convergent strategies will be measured by the prevention of terrorist acts, the countering of extremist ideologies and their local influence, and the resiliency of U.S. communities in the face of man-made and natural disasters.

Again it blurs the line between ordinary crime and terrorism as to justify the use of new surveillance and enforcement powers against population. So if human terrain system is a missing link in policing Iraq and Afghanistan through community policing system and if you pretend that occupying army is police and local tribe is community – what is analogue of human terrain system in democratic world? Is our free world human terrain mapped? Do TI’s stick out like a sore thumb according to some predefined criteria in that software? Community liaison police officer would be something similar to human terrain team member. Crimemapping would be somewhat analogous to human terrain mapping.

Check this abstract where human terrain social scientists propose the solution to Iraqis to prevent IED’s. It’s hard to say if Stanford Prison Experiment used as a model to explain IED’s or as a model to influence prevention:

Akers (1998 and 1985) posits that learned behavior forms the behavioral prerequisites for both normative and deviant actions. Swidler (1986) argues that in unsettled times, individuals return to their ideational toolkits, their definitions, and focus on those elements that will let them survive. Zimbardo’s (1973) Stanford Prison Experiments clearly demonstrated that the weakest of identities, differential associations, specifically those randomly assigned, become not only strong but destructive under stress. Tajfel (1978), Tajfel and Billings (1974), and Tajfel et al (1971) further demonstrated these concepts. During OIF6/2008 Human Terrain Team Iraq 6 (HTT IZ6) was presented with an educational and learning problem set by the 2BCT/1AD: how to help local Iraqi educators develop a supplementary curriculum in order to promote, teach, and inculcate definitions unfavorable to engaging in suicide bombings and improvised explosive devise (IED) emplacement. The purpose of this paper is to present the theoretical development and implementation of the supplemental curriculum, utilizing social learning theories, by members of HTT IZ6.

Many private contractors are participating in Human Terrain program (, but it’s not the program itself, but it’s focus on using anthropologists and social scientists and subsequent usage of their generated data for kinetic and non-kinetic actions. War on terror is global so all these methods should be used along the lines of normal law enforcement only in less obvious manner as monitoring, surveillance and threat interpreting apparatus is already in place. So question is once again what is the definition of the threat? Most of TI’s have no idea why are they targeted, just like most of the people on no-fly list have no idea why they were put on it.

There is a book by Tomo Shibato about Organized stalking: The Invisible Maiming Torture Enterprise of Organized Stalking Assaults. I haven’t read it, maybe someone did?


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