I think at this stage it is worth looking to history for inspiration. Sir Robert Peel invented the modern police service so I think his views on how things should work are worth remembering:
- The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
- The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.
- Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
- The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
- Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
- Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient.
- Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
- Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
- The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.
More at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peelian_Principles
For several years, the police has operated neighbourhood policing where local meetings called Neighbourhood Action Panels set the local priorities for their local neighbourhood area. Experience shows that the typical priorities are 'anti-social behaviour', litter, speeding and youth nuisance.
Anti-social behaviour is currently the number 1 national priority for police forces because it is the public's number 1 priority. It is high volume, low level issues, often not even crime.
Robert Peel's nine principles includes an interesting contradiction to this trend.
5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
Most the the principles include the public but it also maintains that to be effective, the public must sit back and allow the police as professionals to decide where priorities should be placed, not the public. I think we could do much worse than simply adopt all these principles as they are. They are extremely insightful for over 150 years ago but seem to be just what modern policing requires.