§ 1.02. Goals of Policing

The goals of policing are to promote a safe and secure society, to preserve the peace, to address crime, and to uphold the law.


a. Goals of policing. The fundamental end of policing is to promote the safety and security of all members of society. Safety and security are related goals, but they nonetheless are distinct. To be effective, agencies should strive not only to minimize actual crime and disorder, but also to address residents’ fear of crime and to help ensure that residents feel secure in their persons, activities, relationships, and property with respect to both other members of society and the police themselves.

Agencies can and should advance these goals in a variety of ways, including: by detecting and arresting violators of the law; by rendering aid when necessary; by adopting deterrent strategies; and by working cooperatively with the public to develop crime-prevention strategies. Agencies should ensure that all the communities they serve can depend on them to enforce the law in an impartial manner. See also § 1.12 (Interacting with Vulnerable Populations). In choosing among the many tools at their disposal, policing agencies should—consistent with these Principles—adopt strategies that best advance the goals of policing while respecting the rights of all people, promoting police legitimacy, and minimizing the potential harms that policing itself can impose. See § 1.03 (Constitutional Policing), 1.04 (Reducing Harm), 1.07 (Promoting Police Legitimacy in Individual Interactions).

Reporter’s Notes

The goals of policing enumerated in this Section are consistent with how many policing agencies define their missions and responsibilities. For example, the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics—first adopted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in 1957 and included as part of the oath that many officers take—begins by recognizing that the “fundamental duty” of law-enforcement officers “is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, the peaceful against violence and disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all people to liberty, equality and justice.” See also Austin Police Department Policy Manual at 6 (“The Austin Police Department’s basic goal is to protect life, property, and to preserve the peace in a manner consistent with the freedom secured by the United States Constitution.”); American Bar Association, Standards on Urban Police Function 1.2-4 (1980) (“The highest duties of government, and therefore the police, are to safeguard freedom, to preserve life and property, to protect the constitutional rights of citizens and maintain respect for the rule of law by proper enforcement thereof, and, thereby, to preserve democratic processes.”).

A number of law-enforcement organizations likewise have recognized the importance of ensuring not only the physical safety of residents but their sense of security as well. As a former director of the Department of Justice COPS Office emphasized, “people not only need to be safe, but they also need to feel safe. Treating both of these issues as two parts of a greater whole is a critical aspect of community policing.” Bernard K. Melekian, Letter from the Director, in GARY CORDNER, REDUCING FEAR OF CRIME: STRATEGIES FOR POLICE (2010); see also Police Bureau, The City of Portland, Oregon, “Our Mission Statement,” https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/ (“The mission of the Portland Police Bureau is to reduce crime and the fear of crime. We work with all community members to preserve life, maintain human rights, protect property and promote individual responsibility and community commitment.”).

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