The Executive Session on Policing ran from 1985 to 1991, bringing together a group including police chiefs, mayors, policy makers, and scholars to formally flesh out the contours of an emergent community policing model that borrowed heavily from the Broken Windows theory established by Kelling and Wilson in 1982. Focusing on “new approaches to crime, disorder, drugs, and fear,” the session was sponsored by the National Institute of Justice and held at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The sessions were funded by the National Institute of Justice as well as private sources including the Charles Stewart Mott and Guggenheim Foundations. The product of this Executive Session was a series of seventeen papers titled Perspectives on Policing, to be widely distributed across the country and to become a foundation for police training nationally.
Community Policing and the Police Officer by Edwin Meese III, a United States Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan, represents the fifteenth of these seventeen papers. Meese’s vision of the community police officer borrows heavily from Broken Windows theory, imagining a deregulated police force that is focused on preventing crime and policing minor infractions. According to Meese, this deregulation would be implemented by eroding rigid prescriptions for police conduct and limitations on police action, standards that had been set by central authority as regulatory checks against police corruption and operational error. This deregulation, according to Meese, would foster a creative expansion of police responsibilities and would permit an expansion of officer discretion, always unique to the myriad settings and contexts in which an officer might be working.